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Fox News this week attacked Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive with blatantly inaccurate commentary claiming they were European companies and infering they received money illegitimately. Fox has not apologied for these mistatements.  (Source: AutoBlog)

Fisker is actually a U.S. firm and its DOE loan to retool a plant to shift the majority of the production of its hot electric sports cars back into the U.S.  (Source: AutoBlog)

Tesla Motors is in fact a U.S. company -- and for the first time a profitable one. The new loan will in fact help it expand its U.S. operations and offerings.
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Fox News anchors aggressively attacked Fisker and Tesla -- two independent leaders of America's growing electric car movement -- after the U.S. Department of Energy granted the companies loans to help further expand and commercialize promising products.  Leading the attack was Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum who emphasized that Al Gore had invested in Fisker, while failing to note that prominent conservative Colin Powell was also an investor and strong supporter (to Fox News' credit, the Wall Street Journal took a similar route).

However, that was the least skewed portion of segment.  Fox News and its analysts went on to infer that Tesla and Fisker were not American companies and had illegitimately obtained loans from U.S. taxpayers.  The commentators claimed that Tesla was based in England and Fisker in Finland.  They also criticized the vehicles for being too expensive for "most Americans" to afford.  Cheered by the Fox News anchor, hosted analyst David Williams remarked, "This isn't going to help average Americans.  This isn't going to help the working class get these cars." [video here, courtesy of Media Matters]

In both cases the testimony was misleading.  Tesla's European headquarters is indeed based in Windsor, UK.  However, the majority of its business is within the United States, as is its international headquarters -- located in San Carlos, California.  Similarly, Fisker does have a Finnish connection -- its plug-in hybrid Karma sports car is being sub-manufactured by Valet Automotive in Finland.  Fisker's headquarters, though, is in Irvine, California.  Furthermore, the practice of outsourcing manufacturing is commonplace among the U.S.'s larger automakers, GM, Ford, and Chrysler.  A recent study indicated that Toyota Motors -- a non-American firm has in fact, the greatest amount of parts, monetarily, produced in the U.S.

The $528.7M USD for Fisker and $465M USD doled out to Tesla hardly seem egregious in comparison to the tens of billions that GM and Chrysler received.  Even Ford has received far more -- receiving $5.9B USD in the most recent round of advanced technology loans.  

Fisker chose to put out a press release to try to correct these inaccuracies, while declining to specifically target Fox News.  CEO, Henrik Fisker writes, "American automaker Fisker Automotive was recently approved for a conditional loan of $528 million by the Department of Energy (DOE). While news reports were mostly factual, some ignored or marginalized the truth, or sensationalized irrelevant aspects of the loan and our company."

The release emphasizes that the DOE funding will not be used in overseas operations and will, in fact, help create or save 5,000 U.S. jobs.  The company laments that the Karma is being assembled in Finland, saying it only turned to outsourcing when no U.S. plant would agree to produce the vehicle, likely due to its small production numbers.  It says that much of the loan money is going towards retooling a U.S. assembly plant for its $40,000 plug-in hybrid (Project NINA) – the facility will have the capacity to build 75,000 to 100,000 vehicles a year by 2012.  It also states that it is confident that it will be able to repay taxpayers, with interest.

Fisker concludes, "It is unfortunate how false information can be disseminated and it is our intention to correct as much of it as possible."





"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher
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