Who Subsidized the Electric Car?

John Seiler:

A 2006 documentary is called, “Who Killed the Electric Car?” According to IMDB.com, it’s “A documentary that investigates the birth and death of the electric car, as well as the role of renewable energy and sustainable living in the future.” It’s narrated by leftist bigshot Martin Sheen.

In the 2011 sequel, “Revenge of the Electric Car,” according to IMDB.com, “Director Chris Paine takes his film crew behind the closed doors of Nissan, GM, and the Silicon Valley start-up Tesla Motors to chronicle the story of the global resurgence of electric cars.” The flick’s slogan is the unimaginative, “It’s Alive,” a takeoff on 1970s horror movies.

Except that GM’s Chevy Volt catches fire. Even though it not only enjoys a $7,500 tax credit for buyers, but $250,000 in subsidies from taxpayers. That’s part of $3 billion in taxpayer subsidies for the car.

For that $250K you could buy a brand new Rolls Royce Ghost Sedan, 6.6L V12 Twin-turbo 8-speed Automatic. And it doesn’t catch fire.

Now, another electric car seeking revenge has turned out to be a disaster: the Fisker Karma, by the Fisker company of Anaheim. It costs a cool $102,000, base price. That doesn’t include each car’s portion of the $529 million in subsidies the Obama adminstration lavished on Fisker, even though the car actually is manufactured in Finland. The Karma — pictured at right — does look nice. But….

Consumer Reports, the independent magazine, bought a Karma and tested it. It found:

“Our Fisker Karma cost us $107,850. It is super sleek, high-tech—and now it’s broken.

 We have owned our car for just a few days; it has less than 200 miles on its odometer. While doing speedometer calibration runs on our test track (a procedure we do for every test car before putting it in service by driving the car at a constant 65 mph between two measured points), the dashboard flashed a message and sounded a “bing“ showing a major fault. Our technician got the car off the track and put it into Park to go through the owner’s manual to interpret the warning. At that point, the transmission went into Neutral and wouldn’t engage any gear through its electronic shifter except Park and Neutral.

“We let the car sit for about an hour and restarted it. We could now engage Drive and the same error message disappeared. After moving it only a few feet the error message reappeared and when we tried to engage Reverse the transmission went straight to Park and again no motion gear could be engaged. After calling the dealer, which is about 100 miles away, they promptly sent a flatbed tow truck to haul away the disabled Fisker.

“We buy about 80 cars a year and this is the first time in memory that we have had a car that is undriveable before it has finished our check-in process….”

The reason these cars don’t work is because battery technology has not advanced far enough. Perhaps it will some day, likely when the government gets out of the way and lets private industry figure it out. How well do you think Apple, Google and Intel would do if the government was this deeply involved in their product creation?

The only “revenge” that has happened is the usual one of the government carjacking taxpayers, throwing them to the ground, kicking them, gouging them, and lifting their wallets.

March 16, 2012



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  1. Rob McMillin
    Rob McMillin 16 March, 2012, 09:21

    This piece would be a lot more credible if it left off the penultimate paragraph. The reason this car didn’t work is because … well, we don’t rightly know at the moment, but I think it’s safe to say that neither of us has a good idea without looking under the hood. As for battery technology, the key two words are “energy density”. Batteries don’t have it. Even with a lot of impetus from hungry iPhones and laptops, we still don’t have a good answer, and improvements are coming in at only a single-digit annual increase.

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  2. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 16 March, 2012, 10:38

    Mr. McMillin: The last sentence just reflected my disgust as a taxpayer who was robbed once again.

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
    NTHEOC 16 March, 2012, 13:09

    the rise in gas prices has almost nothing to do with energy policy. It has everything to do with America’s continuing failure to adequately regulate Wall Street. But don’t hold your breath waiting for Republicans to tell the truth!!!

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