The whole Fisker Automotive loan debacle is just becoming inane now, if it wasn’t already. U.S. House of Representatives member Darrell Issa, R-California, is now seeing if the money that went to Fisker could have been better served going to another start-up automaker like, oh, Aptera, a venture that’s actually failed. Fisker, for all intents, is on life support, clinging to the last of its workers and not having produced a car since last year.
But it’s still alive.
Aptera, lest you forget, was a futuristic car that looked like a helicopter cockpit on three wheels. Issa supported the automaker, and even wrote to now-former Energy Secretary Steven Chu for support, to get money for the electric car maker. The company closed in December 2011, with workers destroying prototypes and recording it on video. Issa wanted this company to build cars!
Fisker “is a design company, not a manufacturing company,” Issa said in an interview with Automotive News. “It was destined to fail from the beginning. The greater concern is, does this affect more viable companies, whether they received loans or not.”
Fisker never built a car in the U.S. It sourced parts from General Motors and manufactured its cars in Finland with the help of a manufacturing firm that has built everything from the Fisker Karma to the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, a model not sold in the U.S. It was planning on using part of the $529 million in U.S. Department of Energy Loans it received to revive a shuttered GM plant in Delaware for production of its next car, the Fisker Atlantic. But after missing some milestones, it didn’t get all of the money, sought private financing, and the car never came to fruition.
Over the past few months, Fisker has tried finding an outside backer, mostly Chinese companies. The DOE loan money it did receive inhibited its ability to find any companies, though.
In addition, battery supplier for Fisker, A123, went bust, being sold to a Chinese firm. It’s now called, creatively enough, B456. That limited Fisker’s supplies. In retrospect, Fisker could have been run better and had more sources from which to get its supplies, been engineered better so that its early cars didn’t spontaneously catch on fire, and maybe have done better calculations with money-spending. But it was a start-up. Issa, contrary to most Republicans, isn’t talking about making what once was an Invisible Hand invisible again. He wanted to give Fisker’s cash to another failed business.
Free enterprise is and will always be a risk. If the government wants to get into the business of businesses, it should be prepared for companies to go under. To reuse a phrase from the 1990s for Issa describing his affinity for Aptera: The boat sank. Get over it.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)