Fisker Automotive has laid off most of its employees, a sign of impending doom for a company some called Solyndra on wheels, with good reason. Fisker got a federal Advanced Vehicle Technology Loan of $529 million, about the same amount Solyndra received before laying off its employees and going bankrupt. The $529 million came from the federal energy department, but the true source is embattled American taxpayers, few of whom could afford the luxury Fisker vehicles or those from Tesla, also plugged into federal money.
The federal government, led by Vice President Joe Biden, claimed that the loan to Fisker would shake loose a windfall of jobs. The trouble is, Fisker built the cars not in the United States but in Finland. The Fisker Karma vehicles had to be shipped halfway around the world to the USA, where some of them caught fire at the port of Newark during Hurricane Sandy. Fisker and Vice President Biden announced in 2009 that the company would build a less expensive model, the Atlantic, at a former GM plant in Biden’s home state of Delaware. But the Atlantic still has an existential problem. The company also stopped producing the Karma and co-founder Henrik Fisker jumped ship. Now most of the employees have been laid off, which one green-car analyst at Edmunds called “pretty close to a death knell for Fisker.”
We have here a prime example of government waste and corporate welfare, compounded with irresponsibility. Vice President Biden did not hold a press conference on the Fisker fiasco, just as president Obama fell silent when Solyndra went south.
We also have a case of government professing to know what’s best for Americans, who do not show much enthusiasm for electric cars, even ones they can afford. Toyota took note of the market by withdrawing its iQ electric model last year. Perhaps the company, which did not take federal stimulus money, also saw the double standard of federal regulatory policy.
The EPA requires new-car labels to list the miles per gallon of gasoline conventional cars achieve. But electric cars need not quantify the distance drivers get from charging the vehicle, nor the environmental costs of the charging source. The charging service is not “free” and the government does not pay for it. On the other hand, the government will loan $529 million to build luxury cars in Finland.