NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Fisker May Never Build Electric Cars in United States

June 6, 2012

After receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in Department of Energy loans, luxury carmaker Fisker Automotive is turning out to be a bad investment.  The Obama administration encouraged the company to pursue production of its electric plug-in vehicles through substantial financial backing, but its operations are plagued by inefficiency and delays, says ABC News.

Fisker Automotive's problems began with its first, government-funded model -- the Fisker Karma.

  • Of the $529 million government loan it received, Fisker used the first $169 million to bring to market the Karma, a flashy $100,000 hybrid sports sedan that it assembles in Finland.
  • After a series of delays and stumbles, the company announced it had sold its first 1,000 Karmas.
  • Subsequent safety performance has been less than impressive: one of the Karmas stopped working in the middle of a Consumer Reports road test earlier this year.
  • Finally, and still under investigation, an unplugged Karma was the source of a fire in a Texas home in May -- the implications of this event still have not panned out entirely.

The poor performance of the Karma has caused administration wariness of Fisker promises, specifically in regards to its new model, the Atlantic.  The development of the clean-burning gas-electric family car was the original purpose of the government loan.  Now, however, its progress is in question, as Department of Energy officials froze Fisker's green energy loan in response to its poor performance.

This raises the question of the value of the loan entirely.

  • A large portion of the federal funds received by Fisker were allocated to help purchase a shuttered General Motors plant in Delaware for the production of the Atlantic.
  • The company predicted that it would employ 2,000 workers at the site.
  • Now, however, with its loaned funds frozen, Fisker spokespersons have publicly opened up the possibility of moving their operations overseas, thereby failing to contribute to the American job market.

Thus far, the Department of Energy loan has funded the production of a high-end luxury vehicle with a shoddy safety record.  It remains to be seen if the remainder of that loan was used to purchase and renovate a factory that will remain dormant.

Source: Matthew Mosk, "Fisker May Never Build Electric Cars in US," ABC News, May 30, 2012.

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