For Obama’s green-car revolution, fits and startsSo you know, alchemy was once all the rage. The world's greatest minds thought they could turn lead into gold. Sweet!
By Carol D. Leonnig and Joe Stephens, Washington Post
The Obama administration has poured roughly $5 billion in taxpayer funds into the electric-car industry, offering incentives to manufacturers, their suppliers and even car buyers who might want to go green.
But analysts say the risk is rising that taxpayers in many cases will not see a return on their money soon, if ever. Instead, they warn that some federally subsidized companies could be forced to shut down in coming months.
For President Obama, who has made clean-technology investment a hallmark of his job creation efforts, troubles in the electric-car sector pose a potential new political problem after the collapse of solar-panel maker Solyndra, which recently defaulted on a half-billion-dollar federal loan after filing for bankruptcy. The administration has channeled an estimated $80 billion of the stimulus recovery effort into grants and loans to clean energy and energy efficiency programs, companies and research.
Obama predicted in 2008 that green cars would create thousands of new U.S. jobs as demand soared. But in recent months, production lines and sales expectations have been dramatically scaled back.
A123 Systems, a battery maker that received $380 million in government support, announced recently that declining orders had forced layoffs. Instead of up to 3,000 new Michigan jobs as Obama and the company had predicted, it now has 690 employees.
Battery maker EnerDel, recipient of a a $118 million federal grant, took a hit when its key customer, electric-car maker Think, declared bankruptcy this year. Johnson Controls, which received a $299 million stimulus grant, opted to build one factory instead of two because of lower-than-projected demand, a company official said, and that one is now operating at half capacity.
California electric-car maker Aptera announced it was shutting its doors because of problems raising capital. And General Motors — whose moderately priced Volt was supposed to drive Obama’s push for 1 million alternative vehicles by 2015 — revealed last week that it would fall roughly 38 percent shy of its goal of selling 10,000 Volts this year.
“Many in this industry have jumped the gun on how aggressive the growth of electric vehicles will be,” said Kevin C. See, an analyst at Lux Research. [link]
Today scientists - descendents of those alchemists all - laugh at those who were duped by such a notion.
Today they work to perfect a vehicle that few human beings want, fewer can afford, and one whose technology is laughably inadequate.
Yet on Obama's warriors for "green" go. Unaffected. Oblivious. Righteous.
Just a few more billions and we can turn it to gold. Just a few more billions ...