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Fisker Karma  (Source: jalopnik.com)
A total of 26 employees were laid off

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) pulled the plug on a federal loan it provided to Fisker Automotive, forcing the automaker to stop work on a Delaware factory.

California-based Fisker Automotive, known for the $102,000 Karma plug-in and the Nina midsize sedan, received a total of $529 million in loans from DOE in April 2010. The loans were part of a program to progress development of high-tech vehicles, where Fisker received $169 million for Karma engineering and $359 million for Nina production. The loans were also meant to revamp a closed General Motors plant in Wilmington, Delaware for Fisker auto production. So far, Fisker has drawn down $193 million from its loans.

Fisker has been behind schedule on selling its first auto here in the U.S., and in May 2011, DOE blocked the loans previously provided to the automaker due to "unmet milestones." According to Damien LaVera, DOE only allows Fisker to use the loan if the auto company upholds its end of the deal and shows results. However, Fisker has been a little behind.

The lack of access to loans has affected work on the Delaware factory. In fact, work on the auto factory has now been halted, and 26 people were laid off.

"It's been frustrating that Fisker and the Department of Energy weren't able to come to terms on the revisions to the loan in time to avoid this," said Brian Selander, a spokesman for Delaware Governor Jack Markell. "I'd say the project is on hold while the two sides try to get things sorted out."

DOE seems to be a bit more cautious of who it provides its financial offerings to after the series of alternative energy failures through 2011 and 2012. In September 2011, Silicon Valley-based solar panel company Solyndra filed for bankruptcy after receiving a $535 million loan from DOE in 2009. Government officials reportedly warned the administration about Solyndra's viability back at that time, but these warnings were set aside to meet political deadlines.

In November 2011, Beacon Power, a company that creates flywheels to store power and increase grid efficiency by preventing blackouts, filed for bankruptcy after receiving a $43 million loan guarantee from DOE in August 2010.

Just last month, auto electric battery maker Ener1, whose EnerDel subsidiary received a $118.5 million DOE grant in August 2009, filed for bankruptcy.

Electric vehicles haven't had a great year, either. Last year, General Motors' Chevrolet Volt was heavily criticized after three Volts sparked or caught fire in a series of side-impact crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Fisker had some battery issues of its own as well back in December 2011, where over 200 Karma's were recalled.

Also, somewhat similar to Fisker's factory situation, an Indiana Think City EV plant has been sitting stagnant after failing to produce the Think City EVs, which are tiny two-seater EVs manufactured by Think Global.

Fisker CEO Henrik Fisker said the company sent 225 Karmas to dealers in December, with another 1,200 on the way.

Sources: The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek



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RE: The media hurt the Volt not the crashes
By Shig on 2/7/2012 1:35:10 PM , Rating: 1
The Toyota Prius sold <2000 it's first year, explain to me how it was a failure now.


RE: The media hurt the Volt not the crashes
By Shig on 2/7/2012 1:37:26 PM , Rating: 1
@Conflict of interest - You do realize the economic prosperity post WW2, that every republican likes to mention, was from that same 'conflict of interest'. Why are you so against the US helping it's own companies, they always have and every other major nation does the same. You clearly don't have a clue what you're talking about.


RE: The media hurt the Volt not the crashes
By Reclaimer77 on 2/7/2012 1:51:32 PM , Rating: 2
There is a clear conflict of interest when a government agency is in charge of investigating a government supported vehicle like the Volt. This would be a much more dangerous country if those that speak out against such conflicts are shouted down, as you and your Volt supporters want to do. These conflicts can occur in other areas and a President campaigning on GM's success while maintaining taxpayers' investment stake in the company sets a horrible precedent. How safe the Volt actually is isn't the point. The clear conflict of interest is.

The evidence is there that NHTSA waited over five months before disclosing that there was a fire. And that was only after a Bloomberg report hit that said that that fire existed. So there just seems to have been a double standard with how they treated the Toyota investigation and how they treated the Chevy Volt.

I don't know if you're being naive or overly-dismissive of these concerns. Seems like you're going to say anything to shout down the other side.


RE: The media hurt the Volt not the crashes
By Shig on 2/7/2012 2:01:40 PM , Rating: 2
Well the original claim was that the Volt would catch on fire weeks after a severe crash and it had not been attended to. This is true of any car, you cannot just leave a totaled car sitting somewhere with a volatile fuel source (any energy dense source) without taking care of it, that's common sense.

It reminds me of when that lady spilled coffee on herself and sued McDonalds, it's like really? You need to be told that?

Then after all this was said and done, the NHTSA constantly tested and still deemed it to be perfectly safe. In the case of Toyota's recall someone actually got hurt and could have killed others.

I agree that one could argue a slight conflict of interest, but it is blown way out of proportion. The NHTSA's job is to keep people safe and they did that.


RE: The media hurt the Volt not the crashes
By Reclaimer77 on 2/7/2012 2:33:10 PM , Rating: 2
But the people have a right to know these things. You seem to think it's fine for a Government agency to sit on a report for five months because it might look bad for the Government supported auto-makers new political flagship. That's not a situation I'm comfortable with. There's a clear conflict of interest here.

You act like Fox put sticks of dynamite in the Volt to show it exploding like Dateline NBC did with Gm trucks back in the 80's.

quote:
This is true of any car, you cannot just leave a totaled car sitting somewhere with a volatile fuel source (any energy dense source) without taking care of it, that's common sense.


Huh? I've been in accidents and had cars totaled, and at no point did the fuel tank have to be drained as a precaution. If fuel isn't leaking, there is virtually no potential risk.

quote:
Well the original claim was that the Volt would catch on fire weeks after a severe crash and it had not been attended to.


Yes but we need testing to know these things! How can you honestly expect people to not be concerned about something that might burn down, weeks later, after a collision? Normal cars just don't do that. What if the car doesn't have to be totaled for the battery to get compromised? What if it's sitting in a garage in your house and goes up in flames? Or the repair shop?

quote:
The NHTSA's job is to keep people safe and they did that.


Yes and because of that, GM is now wielding steel plates around the battery to further secure it. That's the point of testing. So what's the problem here? There was clearly a problem, NHTSA sat on that problem for half a year. Of course the media is going to jump on a story like that. Why did it take 5+ months? Politics is a pretty good guess.


By Keeir on 2/7/2012 7:26:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
But the people have a right to know these things. You seem to think it's fine for a Government agency to sit on a report for five months because it might look bad for the Government supported auto-makers new political flagship. That's not a situation I'm comfortable with. There's a clear conflict of interest here.


Just to be clear though... if the Government did not own shares of GM, you'd be perfectly fine with handling of the situation?

quote:
Huh? I've been in accidents and had cars totaled, and at no point did the fuel tank have to be drained as a precaution. If fuel isn't leaking, there is virtually no potential risk.


Haven't really been in a total car then huh? Read your owners manual. Your not even recommended to use roadside flares if your suspect fuel leakage... or emergency lights.

quote:
Normal cars just don't do that.


No. Normal cars have a risk of catching fire at ANY time. Including but not limited to sitting alone in a garage. All cars have electrical systems that a run on a battery. The presence of the charged battery creates a system that can catch fire under numerous, albeit unlikely, situations.

quote:
GM is now wielding steel plates around the battery to further secure it.


Complete and total PR move. This does not prove there was a problem. This proves that GM thought it was cheaper to weld plates to 6,000 batteries than convince people it was not a problem.

quote:
Why did it take 5+ months?


That's a short frame of time. Why does Toyota still not have an adequate response to the thousands of acceleration issues reported from 2000-2008.

Reclaimer, I really don't understand why you're having difficulty here.

A car caught fire outside of a normal testing procedure with unknown causes and conflicts. The testing agency contacted with the OEM to conduct an investigation into an anomaly that might potentially have been safety related. Instead of rushing to report or conclude data the Agency and the OEM choose to conduct further testing to outline the anomaly. At no point was it clear there was a public safety issue, as running you car full speed into a pole and then sitting in it for weeks is not an expected consumer usage of a car.

You can choose to bring politics into the issue if you want... but the above situation occurs -daily-. I wouldn't doubt there are thousands of issues right now similar to the above, many of them significant worse than the Volt issues.


By Ringold on 2/7/2012 3:57:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You do realize the economic prosperity post WW2, that every republican likes to mention, was from that same 'conflict of interest'.


lolwut? You just oversimplified a million things way over your head, like going from little infrastructure to well-built out, natural gains that accrue to a free market economy from advances in technology, and world-beating competitiveness that also leads from that, as well as the steady advancement of GATT/WTO, and.. many other factors.

Besides, the country grew impressively at different points prior to WW2, when government spending as a % of GDP was miniscule. When it did pick up, it was at first for infrastructure (something which delivers a one time large gain, marginal from there) and military spending (which is by and large economically unproductive, if nationally necessary).


RE: The media hurt the Volt not the crashes
By kattanna on 2/7/2012 1:54:47 PM , Rating: 2
simple. it was a failure. and in its 1st year, 1997, it actually only sold around 300 total units. and they continued to lose money even though in 1998/1999 they sold 17K and 15K units.

the only thing that made it a success is the fact that toyota stuck with it for years and started selling it outside the japanese market, in 2000, before sales finally stated to amount to something that then made it profitable and allowed it to become the success we see today.

it wasnt until its 4th or 5th year that they started to make money off of it.

so.. is the volt a failure, you bet. the question is does GM have the cojones to hang in there for the long haul to see if this could be a success?

and to call it anything but the failure it is is simply deluding oneself with short sighted feel good euphemisms


RE: The media hurt the Volt not the crashes
By Shig on 2/7/2012 2:07:59 PM , Rating: 2
With that logic, cell phones, computers, the automobile itself, the internet, CD players, etc were all failures because they weren't wildly successful and insanely profitable the first year.


By kattanna on 2/7/2012 2:12:11 PM , Rating: 2
LOL !! man you remind me of this really old saying

quote:
trying to win an argument on the internet is like running in the special olympics, even if you win, your still a retard


its a horrible saying to be sure, but it certainly pertains to you.

go be an ignorant troll somewhere else

;>)



By Trisped on 2/7/2012 2:40:17 PM , Rating: 2
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Failure
quote:
Failure refers to the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success. Product failure ranges from failure to sell the product to fracture of the product, in the worst cases leading to personal injury, the province of forensic engineering.

By my understanding of the word, the Prius is not a failure. That it did not do well its first year is true. The Volt, also did not do well its first year, but there is still hope that it will become a popular and successful model.


By Keeir on 2/7/2012 7:45:22 PM , Rating: 2
Try more like 7 years. It wasn't until the 5th year they started making a marginal profit.

The real "profit" of the Prius is that it was a Halo product that convinced the US and Japanese public that Toyota sold fuel efficient cars, regardless of the facts of the situation. Given the mix of Toyota models actually available (in the US), Toyota is really only middling when it comes to fuel economy especially from 2005-2010.

As a Halo product Prius might have been work 100 dollars per car sold. Thats where the big profit is/has been. Image creation.


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