Let me just say at the outset: I drive an electric car. I received a $7500 tax credit from the feds, and a $2500 tax credit from the state, so I’ve definitely benefitted from government’s largesse. I even get free car-charging (for the moment) at work.
However, the hypocrisy from the right on environmental issues continues. Joe McCarthy-like CA Republican Darrel Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight And Government Reform Committee, along with other right-wing, fossil-fuel-interested hypocrites, constantly preaches the “Government should not be choosing winners and losers” sermon when they’re faced with government loans to green energy companies and electric vehicle makers. Except, that is, if that winner-picking is for a constituent. During the grilling of Fisker execs recently, it was revealed that Issa was responsible (along with another San Diego-area Republican) with trying to secure loans for constituent Aptera, Inc., the maker of a-three wheeled electric car, which failed in 2011. (Yes, I nearly put a $100 refundable deposit down on this car back in those pre-EV car days of 2007.)
Here’s this from Think Progress:
Issa himself acknowledged one thing during the hearing that may have slipped by most observers: He tried, and failed, to get a loan guarantee for a company called Aptera Motors. Based in Issa’s district, Aptera had designed a three-wheeled electric car. The company failed and has since been purchased by a Chinese-American partnership, but there may have been more fundamental issues with the company’s business plan as Wiredreported in 2011:
“Southern California electric vehicle startup Aptera Motors is out of time, out of money and out of luck. It announced today that it is shutting its doors, liquidating its assets and laying off its staff…. The truth is, Aptera always faced long odds and has been in trouble for at least two years. The audience for a sperm-shaped, three-wheeled, electric two-seater was never anything but small.” (Emphasis theirs.)
Design issues aside, when Issa was flacking it, Aptera had other concerns. Initially, three-wheeled cars were ineligible for DoE loans. But Rep. Issa and Rep. Brian Bilbray got the law changed so that the car would be eligible. The company also received funding from one of Issa’s campaign donors, and the firm’s CFO paid a $40,000 fine to the SEC for an accounting fraud charge from her time working at Delphi. All of this did not stop Issa from sending a letter to Energy Secretary Chu requesting a loan (reported to be $150 million) for the company through the ATVM loan program.
Issa has complained about delays in the loan guarantee program, but with funding requests like this to parse through, a rigorous process is an asset to taxpayers. To date, Issa’s Oversight Committee has not held a hearing to investigate congressional support for projects such as these.
- Electric car maker Aptera Motors pulls the plug (daveibsen.typepad.com)