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Fisker Karma
This is the same program that funded Fisker Automotive

South Dakota's Republican senator wants to terminate the federal loan program that gave millions of dollars to Fisker Automotive -- an automaker that has failed to produce a car in over a year and is now missing loan payments to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). 

According to The Detroit News, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) wants to get rid of the $25 billion Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program due to failures like Fisker Automotive wasting taxpayer money. He has already proposed an amendment that would “permanently end the ATVM program and save taxpayers from paying for more of President Obama’s bad green-energy bets.”

Thune's amendment comes after the DOE said it would auction off Fisker Automotive's $168 million unpaid loan earlier this week. DOE plans to launch the auction in early October. 

Fisker Automotive is an auto startup that received $529 million in DOE loans back in April 2010. However, Fisker fell a little behind on its production schedule, and in May 2011, DOE froze the loans due to "unmet milestones." Fisker had only drawn $193 million of it at that point. It hasn't been able to build a car since July 2012, and started looking for a buyer so it doesn't have to claim bankruptcy.

But Fisker isn't the only auto company that failed after receiving money from the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program. Vehicle Production Group LLC -- which is a Michigan-based startup building wheelchair-accessible compressed natural gas vehicles -- was awarded $50 million in loans back in March 2011, but has since halted production.

Senator John Thune

DOE sold its unpaid $50 million loan for Vehicle Production Group LLC to AM General for $3 million earlier this month. According to The Detroit News, taxpayers lost about $42 million on that sale.

The Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program was created by Congress in 2007 in an effort to reach the goal of 1 million EVs on U.S. roads by 2015, but the program hasn't made a new loan since March 2011. This is mainly due to the fact that two of the five companies (Fisker and Vehicle Production Group) that received government loans stopped production. 

The Obama administration received a lot of flak for these failures, but the program wasn't all bad. The other three loans -- $5.9 billion to Ford, $1.4 billion to Nissan and $465 million to EV startup Tesla Motors -- proved to be successful. Tesla even managed to pay its full sum back nine years early, which was a great feat for a startup. 

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said last month that the Obama administration is interested in reviving the $25 billion Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program. He noted that it plans to draw a new round of loan requests (but is not actively considering any applications for retooling loans) and reexamine its lending criteria in order to avoid problems it encountered in the past. 

Source: The Detroit News

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If a car is worth buying it doesn't need a subsidy
By mkrohn on 9/19/2013 11:39:21 AM , Rating: 2
The Volt sickens me so much because of how much it relies on the government subsidies to sell.

If you want to be green just buy a VW TDI and laugh at these fools running around with batteries that pollute the world more than just burning more gas. In real world usage the TDI's actually get better fuel economy than these hybrids. I was an HCH driver in Michigan and every time the temps dropped below 50F my fuel economy tanked to that of the normal civic or even worse in some cases because of the added weight of the hybrid crap. I'm looking forward to picking up a TDI at some point but for now I'm sticking with my '74 Beetle. Yes the gas mileage is pretty crappy but its still cheaper to drive than most vehicles.

By superflex on 9/19/2013 12:06:28 PM , Rating: 3
I came to the realization years ago that battery powered anything sucks. Sure, it's convenient to pull out the 18V Dewalt drill vs the powered Bosch, but once you realize those $90 batteries need replacement every 2-3 years unless you like driving 15 deck screws between charges, you are better of using a traditional power source.
Dewalt sells battery powered drills cheap because the money is in the replacement batteries.
I guess the general public is too stupid to realize this is inkjet printer madness all over again. $20 dollar printers and $50 replacement carts.
PT Barnum was right.

By toffty on 9/19/2013 1:58:05 PM , Rating: 2
I guess you don't know the battery in your dewalt drill is completely different than an EV's battery.

I hope no one buys inkjet printers anymore. Laser printers save so much money over the long run that the higher initial investment is nothing.

I've driven my Nissan Leaf for 2 years now and the only maintenance cost I've had in that time was $12 for a cabin air filter which I replaced. I’ve also rotated the tires. No oil changes or other parts replacements. With no transmission - only reduction gears – there are very few moving parts that can break in an EV compared to an ICE vehicle. I have not noticed any range loss either.

Worst case scenario: Battery is below 70% capacity after 10 years. By then a 24 kWh battery will probably be close to if not less than $5k (US). This is far less than the savings over the same time period in fuel alone -- (ICE) $10k to drive 100k miles @ 35 mpg @ $3.5 miles per gal compared to (EV) $2750 to drive 100k miles @ 4 kWh per mile @ $0.11 per kWh -- and the cost of oil changes ($1.5k for 3 oil changes a year @ $50 per oil change over 10 years), 25k, 50k, 75k vehicle checks (another grand at least).

By Solandri on 9/19/2013 3:07:22 PM , Rating: 2
I guess you don't know the battery in your dewalt drill is completely different than an EV's battery.

Actually the battery is the same (either NiMH or Li-ion). The difference is a $90 replacement battery is within most people's impulse buy budget. A $5000 replacement car battery is not.

So the drill maker has an incentive to design the batteries to fail quickly (to make you buy new ones). And that's exactly what they do. They let you charge it to 100% and drain it to 0%, which is what shortens their endurance (reduces the charge capacity so you can only drive in 15 screws between charges).

EV batteries are designed to avoid that pitfall. Most of them only charge to 75%-80% of max capacity, and discharge to only 25%-20%. By avoiding the 100% and 0% extremes, you preserve their endurance.

By toffty on 9/19/2013 8:00:37 PM , Rating: 2
Yes they are both based off of Lithium but the other metals are different. There are many different kinds of Li-ion battery chemistries and that's what's different.

See here:

By half_duplex on 9/19/2013 12:38:59 PM , Rating: 2
People who think electric cars are better for the environment are misinformed.

The mining of rare earth metals in China is FAR worse than a highly efficient diesel.

Too bad more people don't have STEM degrees in this country, we'd be in a lot better shape.

By foxalopex on 9/19/2013 1:13:03 PM , Rating: 1
EVs are better for the environment. For starters Lithium batteries use very little lithium. A lot of lithium batteries actually have more copper in them than you'd realize.

It takes a huge amount of resources and power to refine oil. Even worse if you've ever seen what happens out in the tar sands which typically burn one barrel of oil for every two that comes out. Strip mining the land, water pollution and the huge settling ponds certainly don't help. Never mind the occasional oil spill or well blowout in the Gulf which probably cost the US government more money to cleanup than the subsidies for EV.

It takes a huge amount of electricity to refine and pump oil to reach you. This electricity could have instead be used to charge an EV for travel.

EV's don't produce toxic exhaust that causes smog in our cities and deaths every year. This alone would be one of the biggest benefits an EV brings.

As a regular car ages, it actually causes more pollution. With an EV it'll probably be 20 years before the battery needs replacing and then it'll likely be recycled because metals such as copper in the batteries are worth recycling.

The main issue with EVs are that they don't have the carefree range that a gas car has. Otherwise there's little wrong with them.

By ritualm on 9/19/2013 8:08:59 PM , Rating: 2
EVs are better for the environment

What kind of BS are you smoking, sir?

EVs themselves are clean. All the mining, production and energy creation processes required to build and maintain EVs are not.

Electricity doesn't grow on trees. It needs to be created by converting another energy source into the stuff an EV battery can use. In other words, an EV merely shifts the source of pollution elsewhere.

This is why I laugh every time someone says we need to abolish nuclear power. The stuff is deadly to mere mortals, its waste byproducts remain toxic for centuries, limited global uranium supplies (unless we start converting existing plants to run off thorium), lots of location restrictions, and there's always a chance of catastrophic meltdown. However, compared to clean electricity generation: high power output and dependable regardless of weather; compared to conventional electricity generation: much cleaner emissions.

But if we kill off nuclear power, we have to make up the shortfall from other sources, and the most promising of all viable power generation technology is a minimum of ten years from commercialization. Good luck with that.

By Mint on 9/19/2013 9:38:59 PM , Rating: 2
I don't see where folaplex said he's anti-nuclear.

And even an EV powered by a non-renewable natural gas plant is far cleaner than a hybrid on gasoline, particularly in cities.

By flyingpants1 on 9/20/2013 8:43:53 AM , Rating: 2
Um yeah.. Everything you said applies twofold for ICE vehicles, because they are less efficient.

I can plug an electric car into a solar panel. There is no such thing as solar gasoline.

So, EVs are better for the environment.

By Reclaimer77 on 9/20/2013 10:40:26 AM , Rating: 2
So, EVs are better for the environment.

Ev's just transfer the environmental impact elsewhere. Just because you can't see the pollution, doesn't mean it's not there.

Having said that, who freaking cares? You drive what you want, I'll drive what I want. And no, nobody is dying or suffering because of it.

I can plug an electric car into a solar panel.

And I can grow my own fuel from algae /shrug.

By Brovane on 9/20/2013 12:36:25 PM , Rating: 2
Power Plant Generators run at much better efficiency than small internal combustion engines which usually run at around 30% efficiency. A large Generator at a power plant can hit over 60%+ Efficiency. So this allows it to be more efficienty with the fuel that it burns, even if it is coal. Also over the years the US electrical grid has been getting cleaner so as time progresses the source of electricity for the EV's will get cleaner.

By Mint on 9/19/2013 9:30:51 PM , Rating: 2
People who think electric cars are better for the environment are misinformed.

The mining of rare earth metals in China is FAR worse than a highly efficient diesel.
Talk about pot calling kettle black. If you're so informed, then when why are you bringing up the rare earth boogeyman?

The Tesla Model S uses no rare earths in its power train. Rare earths used to be used heavily in NiMH batteries, but we now use Li-ion. They're used in DC motors, but the Tesla uses induction motors which are just copper and iron. As EV volumes go up, rare earth prices go up, and other companies work on motor technology, we'll see everyone switch to induction motors.

There's no rare earth problem. There's no lithium shortage (a Leaf battery pack has on 4kg of Li). There's no lack of grid capacity.

You're just peddling FUD.

By foxalopex on 9/19/2013 12:49:25 PM , Rating: 2
Whoah, buddy you don't know what you're talking about... I own a Volt and I live in Northwestern Ontario (Canada) which is a LOT colder than Michigan. (We're farther north). I've had the car since December of 2012 and I even took it cross country on a 3000 mile trip to Calgary and back. Care to guess what the current fuel mileage is? It's 75 mpg. I'd like to see a diesel beat that. I haven't seen a gas station since I came back from the trip in May (4 months) and I use my car everyday. I don't even think a Prius could pull that off unless you didn't drive it at all.

Driving the car is actually a lot of fun because it's perfectly safe to floor the pedal which is something you can't do in a regular car because then it'll burn excessive amounts of gas and possibly damage the engine over time. On an EV, it just uses a little more power.

The subsidies help make the car a bit more affordable. New Technology is expensive unfortunately but the government wishes to subsidize it because in the long run it benefits all. I most certainly don't miss the exhaust from cars that cause smog, diseases and ruin the air quality in the cities. And as often pointed out, electric cars only get cleaner with age because over the years we've gradually cleaned up our power plants. Gas cars slowly break down and actually produce more pollution over their lifetime.

Being cheap is great but it doesn't always translate to goodwill for all. After all junk food is cheaper than real food until you pay the price in your later years.

By ritualm on 9/19/2013 8:21:33 PM , Rating: 2
it's perfectly safe to floor the pedal which is something you can't do in a regular car because then it'll burn excessive amounts of gas and possibly damage the engine over time.

Bogus. You burn more power by flooring the pedal on an EV = you burn more gas by flooring the pedal on an ICE. In fact, what you're doing is burn those electric motors faster over time.
Gas cars slowly break down and actually produce more pollution over their lifetime.

Gas cars don't randomly burst into flames while parked and completely turned off in an empty parking lot. They also don't have to contend with a heavy battery pack that not only increases overall curb weight, but also shifts the center of gravity.

By snhoj on 9/20/2013 12:22:31 AM , Rating: 2
Bogus. You burn more power by flooring the pedal on an EV = you burn more gas by flooring the pedal on an ICE. In fact, what you're doing is burn those electric motors faster over time.
The reason why ICE cars and electric cars are less efficient if driven hard are quite different and as such will result in a considerable difference in the efficiency penalty for driving aggressively. ICE cars make much better power if the engine revolutions are higher so if accelerating hard the trans will hold a gear longer keeping the revs up. This happens to be where the pumping losses and internal friction are greatest making the engine less efficient, also the cars fuel system richens the mixture during hard acceleration so that the engine will accelerate smoothly. Hard acceleration accompanied by hard braking means that a lot of energy is dumped via the brakes. Driving aggressively also means higher average speeds for increased aerodynamic losses and this at least is shared in common with the EV. In an EV aggressive acceleration means higher current is demanded from the battery. The higher current means that due to the internal resistance of the battery more energy is converted to heat. How much depends on the internal resistance of the battery (it varies with chemistry) and how much current is required to make the required power. Some batteries have a very low internal resistance and if operating at a fairly high nominal voltage can make their power at fairly moderate currents. The current limits of battery cells are generally a multiple of cell capacity so larger cells can make larger currents before excessive amounts of energy are lost. So long range EV’s will have a smaller efficiency penalty if driven aggressively over short range EV’s. EV’s have regenerative braking so aggressive acceleration accompanied by aggressive braking doesn’t result in the same losses as a ICE car. Overall a modern EV should suffer a much lower efficiency penalty if driven aggressively than a modern ICE car.

By Rukkian on 9/19/2013 1:24:52 PM , Rating: 2
While GM is not neccessarily known for reliability (although they are much better now than in the past) have you looked up any reliability ratings for VW cars? No way I would touch one.

Diesel in general does have its place, and that is really as a highway car, hence why pretty much every truck uses them. Diesel engines work best and are most efficient for a constant rpm, and do not do well when they need to be revved up and down all the time, like in a typical larger city. Add to that, the higher price (usually as much or more than a comparable hybrid) and it is not the answer for everybody.

There are numerous benefits to having an electric only vehicle, as they motor should last a really long time, does not really need maintenance (no fluids) and is cheaper to run. Right now the problems we have are with the economy of scale, and getting the technology for some sort of storage of the power needed (whether that ends up being batteries, some sort of capacitors, hydrogen).

Industries have always needed assistance getting up and running at the begining to get them to profitability. If our government does not work on it, other countries will, and then we will be behind and trying to play catch up while driving nothing but chinese made pos cars.

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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