Despite Billions In Government Subsidies, Electric Cars Are A Colossal Flop

Obama-DC-Auto-Show-2-537x355

This is what happens when the government “invests.” In a free market, capital flows to good ideas that appeal to the public. But when the government invests, capital flows to political ideas which often don’t have a lot in common with what the public actually wants or needs.

Nothing is more emblematic of the industry’s troubles than the Fisker Karma. In 2010, Fisker got a $529 million taxpayer loan to build a luxury electric sports car.

But the government cut off the loan to Fisker after $193 million when Fisker failed to meet its ambitious sales and production goals. Then, a Consumer Reports test dealt the Karma another blow.

“It is low. It is sleek. It is sensuous,” the Consumer Reports’ video narrator says.

“It’s also broken,” the narrator adds as a clip of the Fisker Karma being towed on a flatbed airs.

Fisker blamed the car’s lithium ion battery, which happened to be made by another government loan recipient, A123 Systems.

A123 got a $249 million taxpayer loan. This year’s first-quarter losses totaled $125 million.

The industry’s misfortunes have seriously undermined President Obama’s goal.

“We can replace our dependence on oil with biofuels and become the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015,” Obama said in January 2011.

To get to one million, the White House pinned its hopes on 11 models of electric vehicles — including the Karma. Our CBS News investigation found that six of the 11 — Ford Focus, Ford Transit Connect, Fisker Nina/Atlantic, Tesla Model S, Tesla Roadster and Think City — either haven’t made their first delivery or are already out of business.

Others aren’t even close to the government’s 2015 projections. For example, 36,000 Fisker Karmas and 505,000 Chevy Volts were supposed to be made. But current projections slash the Karma’s 2015 number in half to 18,000 and put the Volt at one-eighth of the goal at 62,000.

I don’t think Americans have a bias against the concept of electric cars. I think they have a bias against cars that don’t work very well and/or aren’t very practical.

Most electric cars are really just hybrids that you can plug in. They all run on gas, eventually, and the miles-per-gallon ratings aren’t really all that much of an improvement over what you can get from the more fuel efficient gas-only vehicles which also have a much lower price tag.

Americans aren’t buying electric cars because electric cars don’t work very well. They’re only on the market because, politically, they’re favored.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

Related posts

  • igx

    Coal powered cars, courtesy of Obama. 

    Switching fleet vehicles to natural gas is a way better idea. 

  • http://flamemeister.com flamemeister

    I guess the snarky “Shocker” is about worn out.

  • http://flamemeister.com flamemeister

    I heard gerbils were brought up as an option, but was slammed down by the animal rights people.  A rubber band suggestion was killed for environmental reasons.  Obama bullshit was suggested due to its abundance.  It had to be explained by a high-IQ Demoncrap that this was “just a figure of speech.”

    • Actor Richard Geer

      Gerbils did someone mention gerbils?

  • Econwarrior

    This is an example of Keynesian folly.  Trying to “increase demand” doesn’t work if there is no real demand for the product, no matter how hard the govt pushes it.

    • igx

      We are way past the era when artificially stimulating DEMAND for ANYTHING gave the illusion  of increasing prosperity. 

      We are now going to find out the hard way we have to PRODUCE what society genuinely finds to be USEFUL.  

    • $8194357

      Oh but those 100’s of millions padded so
      many slush fund for the left.

  • mickey_moussaoui

    I love the sound of a 5.4 liter V8 with straight pipes

    • $8194357

      Back in the day…

      390 c.i. 4 bbl carb in a 1966 two door Fairlane 500…..

      Sweet…

      • mickey_moussaoui

        I had a 65 fairlane convertable

        ahhh the memories

  • SigFan

    I’ve seen several articles now talking about Romney making these blunders by Obama and company a central part of the campaign.  And they deserve to be.  Without the government meddling and crony-socialism we probably would see the economy and jobs situation in much better condition than it is.  Although if Obama’s intent was to flush the economy down the tubes he’s doing quite well in that regard.

  • Hannitized, Proofs obsession

    Republican Senator: Fred Hemmings;
     

    Time To Break Old Habits:

    We need desperately to eliminate our dependence on imported oil. In that effort, the Legislature and the Hawaiian Electric Co. have, so far, kept us dependent on fossil fuels. Therefore, we should take the lead individually by embracing low-emissions, fuel-efficient hybrid technology for our own cars.

    The conservation community has for decades asked Hawaiian Electric to focus on renewable energy sources. But the truth is we have increased the percentage of fossil fuels used in Hawai’i since 1970. Given that, what can be done? To start, we need to focus state and local efforts on ground transportation, where roughly 65 percent of our petroleum is consumed. Hawai’i should build a strategy using existing or “off-the-shelf” technologies that can be rapidly deployed to achieve a significant reduction in oil consumption in the short term.

    Substantially increasing the number of hybrid cars in Hawai’i is critical to any serious plan to move our economy beyond petroleum dependence.

    Hybrids are not just one technology. They can include a wide variety of futuristic propulsion systems. The foundation for a petroleum-independent Hawai’i could be the hybrid electric vehicle. Introduced only a few years ago in the United States, hybrids have become our fastest-selling vehicles. And hybrid technology is rapidly improving.

    The waiting list for a Toyota Prius now extends six months on the Mainland and only two months in Hawai’i, according to Curt Lee, general manager of Servco Toyota. Due to our location, we are part of the international distribution scheme and are considered a stronger market than we would be if we were on the domestic distribution arrangement. In
    fact, we are comparable in clout to the entire country of Israel. We need to take advantage of this market power by purchasing more of this popular technology.

    The hybrid auto has become the technological basis for a transportation system that can drastically reduce the amount of petroleum necessary to keep our economy moving. Powered either by electric motors or fuel engines, hybrids could eventually run on
    biofuels and/or hydrogen. The possibility is that through a combination of technology and development of biofuel resources on agricultural lands, we could someday grow enough fuel stock to dramatically reduce petroleum consumption.

    Hybrids save energy by not running the engine when the vehicle is stopped and not using the engine to propel the car from a full stop, the most wasteful (and polluting) part of driving. The 2005 Toyota Prius is rated at 60 miles per gallon in town and 51 mpg on the highway.

    Hybrid batteries are charged with electricity generated by the engine (or via a regenerative braking system).

    http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2005/Oct/02/op/FP510020349.html

    • Jfisher17

      Or, we could just drill here for our own oil sitting beneath us, forgetting all the rest. Presto- less dependence on imported oil. Boy, that was hard!

      • PaulScott58

        I don’t think you understand how the oil business works. That oil isn’t “our” in the sense that if we drill all of the oil in the U.S. that the citizens of the U.S. will get the use of that oil. The private oil companies that pay a pittance for the mineral rights to drill on public lands (subsidy) will then sell that oil to the highest bidder which can be Japan, China or South American interests. It most likely won;t all go to refineries here in the U.S. 

        Since oil is a global commodity, the price is set globally. So, no matter how much we drill here, it won’t necessarily affect the price of gasoline at the corner station. As a matter of fact, the Saudis like keeping the price high, so as we drill more, they’ll curtail their drilling to keep the price high. We’ll drill our oil faster till it’s all gone, then we’ll be 100% reliant on foreign oil instead of 50% as we are now. 

        Not a smart strategic move.

    • donwalk

       Sounds like a quality individual and surfer dude.A retired Republican State Senator from Hawaii who is an avid supporter of hybrid autos – the point of your posting is?I would bet that you could find an active Republican Representative or Senator in the beltway who supported hybrids also.It still wouldn’t change the article, the facts in the article, or the intent of the article.From the “HonoluluAdvertiser.com”Originally posted on August 9, 2009Hemmings served in the state House from 1984 to 1990 and was elected to the Senate in 2000. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1990 and lieutenant governor in 1994.
      The senator said one of his biggest accomplishments was working with Gov. Linda Lingle and President Bush to establish the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, the largest marine conservation area in the United States.
      But Hemmings has often found that his ideas do not advance in a Legislature controlled by Democrats. The senator is an advocate for environmental protection and renewable energy and, while conservative on most social and economic issues, he has supported higher taxes on cigarettes to finance cancer research and other programs.
      “It’s very frustrating how partisan and one-sided and monopolistic the one-party system is at the Legislature,” he said.The senator was also disappointed by the indictment of his wife, Lydia Hemmings, on felony theft charges in May related to her past work for the nonprofit Blueprint for Change.
      Sounds like a quality individual and surfer dude.
      A retired Republican State Senator from Hawaii who is an avid supporter of hybrid autos – the point of your posting is?
      I would bet that you could find an active Republican Representative or Senator in the beltway who supported hybrids also.
      It still wouldn’t change the article, the facts in the article, or the intent of the article.

      From the “HonoluluAdvertiser.com”
      Originally posted on August 9, 2009
      Hemmings served in the state House from 1984 to 1990 and was elected to the Senate in 2000. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1990 and lieutenant governor in 1994.

      The senator said one of his biggest accomplishments was working with Gov. Linda Lingle and President Bush to establish the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, the largest marine conservation area in the United States.
      But Hemmings has often found that his ideas do not advance in a Legislature controlled by Democrats. The senator is an advocate for environmental protection and renewable energy and, while conservative on most social and economic issues, he has supported higher taxes on cigarettes to finance cancer research and other programs.
      “It’s very frustrating how partisan and one-sided and monopolistic the one-party system is at the Legislature,” he said.
      The senator was also disappointed by the indictment of his wife, Lydia Hemmings, on felony theft charges in May related to her past work for the nonprofit Blueprint for Change.
      Updated: Sep 15, 2010 5:48 PM MDT
      By Minna Sugimoto – bio | email
      HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The wife of longtime State Senator Fred Hemmings must pay $4,500 in fines and perform 150 hours of community service for stealing from a non-profit organization she used to run.

      • Hannitized, Proofs obsession

        The point is that supporting hybrid vehicles isn’t a liberal vs conservative thing.  Many conservatives see the advantages of hybrid vehicles.  They just aren’t the right choice for every American today.  That doesn’t mean that hybrids shouldn’t be sold or built.

Top