Solyndra Redux in Electric Car Industry
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  • Range, reliability on the road and some semblance of affordability when things go wrong.

    Tesla factoid: the Model S carries no spare tire. A flat tire requires a call to and potentially hours-long wait for Tesla’s proprietary roadside service. Run-flat tires are not an option, last I’d heard. And a new tire is roughly $750. An early adopter acquaintance of mine has had three flats in as many months.

    • Andrew Allison

      ‘Nuff said!

  • Andrew Allison

    The presumption that Telsa can succeed is (sorry!) presumptuous. The truth is that in order to be viable, electric vehicles need much, much more cost- and weight-effective batteries. For a realistic assessment of the market, see: http://tinyurl.com/bufczk5

  • Fat_Man

    “its money would be much better spent on research and development of new
    technology. Battery technology would be a good place to start”

    No, it would not. Batteries are very old technology. Volta invented them over 200 years ago. They rely on inorganic chemistry, a subject that was completed, at the latest, before WWII. There is very little technological headroom to work in.

    Furthermore, the rewards for new battery technology are immediate and substantial. If there were a profitable line for research, very big corporations with enormous resources would be pursuing it. Government money is not needed, nor is it called for.

  • Carney3

    The criticism ignores the reality that there were reasonable criteria in place to qualify for the loans, and Fisker met them, such as having a credible business plan, significant private sector backing, experienced leadership, etc. In fact, if DOE had not been as mindlessly rigid in its policies, and cut off Fisker for having missed deadlines (and left other companies such as Aptera to twist in the wind waiting for an answer), these problems could probably have been avoided. After all, Fisker DID produce the Karma, which, after some teething problems inevitable in a complex business by a startup, is a functional and beautiful vehicle that does what it is intended to do.

    The article also neglects to mention that design work on the followup high volume lower priced car, the Atlantic, was essentially complete but plans to move into production have been put into limbo by the DOE suddenly turning off the money. You can’t harangue a company for having financial problems when its problems stem from your decision to starve it of cash.

    And if you’re going to respond that they should just raise it in the private marketplace, you’re missing two points. First, they did, a lot. And second, the whole point of government involvement was not to “pick winners and losers” but to encourage and accelerate actual physical production and real-world market adoption of electric cars as fast as possible.

    Blue-sky R&D that no company actually picks up and uses is irrelevant, and I’m sure if the government had done that instead and zero cars had been produced we’d have similar articles talking about how we should have provided tax credits and guaranteed loans to actually produce something drivable rather than yet more studies to gather dust on shelves.

    Finally, free market orthodoxy, and economic non-intervention, are great and everything, but yield in their importance to national security. We are in a long war with global jihadis who would not exist if it were not for oil’s monopoly on transportation power. Each year we send hundreds of billions overseas to petro-tyrannies, who spend part of that money propping up our mortal enemies. The waste of this outflow crushes even the most lavish imaginable alternative motive power subsidy program by orders of magnitude.

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