Wednesday, August 25, 2010

3: Obama Accounting: Green as in Clean Energy or Money, Money, Money?

Obama White House website observers noted the absence of Obama Clean Energy funding information around August 23, 2010. Why would Obama scrub his website clean of popular environmental projects?

The $1.5 Billion Obama Department of Energy (DoE) Fisker Automotive electric hybrid grants and loans may be one reason why. The February 17, 2010 Wall Street Journal (WSJ) featured the most recent readily available information about Fisker hybrid cars, noting "Gore-Backed Car Firm Gets Large US Loan".

Henrik Fisker, a California custom car designer, gained automotive experience at BMW and Aston Martin. In 2007, Henrik worked for Tesla, a "start-up" electric hybrid California automotive company, under a $565 million DoE grant for the proposed Tesla $109,000 roadster.

Henrik Fisker left Tesla to join Barney Koehler of "Fisker Coachbuilder". The 10/23/2009 WSJ reported Koehler became co-founder and COO of Fisker Automotive. Koehler's Fisker Coachbuilder redesigned a General Motors (GM) door handle for the proposed Fisker "Karma" model.

That's FisKer, not FisHer (Coachbuilder).

In April, 2008, Tesla investors filed against Henrik Fisker alleging stolen technology used to develop the "Fisker Karma". Tesla claimed the Tesla "Model S" design by Koehler of "Fisker Coachbuilder" was substandard and that Fisker Automotive diverted the best ideas to the "Fisker Karma".

In September, 2009, DoE gave Fisker Automotive a $529 million grant. An additional $500 million DoE loan was made to the Fisker Automotive "start-up".

Congress established a $25 billion fund under DoE Section 136 Energy Independence Act of 2007 for Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program (ATVM) in 2007for grants and direct loans to automotive and automobile part manufacturers for the cost of re-equipping and establishing manufacturing facilities in the US to produce advanced technology vehicles or qualified components and for associated engineering integration costs.

There are 2 proposed Fisker models, the "Karma" and the Project NINA "Kx". The Kx is a $39,000-$48,000 car due on the market by 2012.

Fisker's Karma originally was slated to be manufactured in Valmet, Finland. However, the DoE grant/direct loan program specifies a US location.

DoE project deadlines approached. Fisker now knew if there was no site, the award was lost, and the whole company was out of business.

Kyle Braden, VP Real Estate, and Mike Deighan, VP Marketing Motor Liquidators Co. (MLC) became property liquidators in the General Motors (GM) bankruptcy/bailout plan. MLC said "GM left behind" several old facilities in the bankruptcy, particularly the Wilmington, DE (Delaware) Boxwood Rd. plant.

MLC, involved in restructuring GM properties and assets also were investors in New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI), a Fremont, CA company run by Kunihiko Oguka, whom they mentioned in early negotiations for a CA site for Fisker Automotive. MLC, owner/managers of the GM bankruptcy plants, and Linda Lovelace, of Washington, DC Wellford Energy Advisor representative for Fisker Automotive, discussed possible plans with CA Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger and CA Senator Barbara Boxer, for a site for engineering work to complete the first Fisker car, the Karma. Other possible former GM manufacturing sites included plants in Michigan and Ohio.

Fisker decided on the Wilmington, DE GM Boxwood Rd. plant. President Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden, from Delaware, were to meet to announce the deal in October, 2009. Vice President Biden promoted the deal for jobs and money to re-tool the old GM manufacturing facility.

Visit the Fisker corporate website for concept photographs of the Karma and the Kx. The Fisker Automotive slogan is "Designed to Get You Hot, Not the Planet". Fisker Automotive employs only 100, far fewer than the usual 1,000 employees for work on a new model.

Fisker Automotive only designs and promotes the cars the company designs. Almost everything is outsourced to other companies, battery, electric power train, parts, and accessories.
"Designed to Get You Hot, Not the Planet."
Fisker Automotive investors include: 1) Eco-Drive Capital partners, LLC with Vinood Khosha, formerly of Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers Venture Capital firm, who has donated $3.2 million to Barack Obama and other Democratic Party politicians including Hillary Clinton, and 2) Qatar, the state-run investor.

Vinood Khosha also consulted with O. John Coletta, Eco-Motors, Intl. of Troy, MI, who was a good sport about being denied a $20 million DoE loan for their hybrid car. Scott Redmond, CEO XP Vehicles, was denied $40 million by the DoE for their proposed $15,000-$25,000 hybrid.

It is only August 2010. But is it too soon to call Obama DoE Secretary Steven Chu's Deputy Secretary Missy Biden Owens to ask when we can expect to see the Fisker Karma and Kx on the showroom in Delaware, $1.5 billion later?

References: The Wall Street Journal,,

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