Report: 56 percent of taxpayer-backed green automakers have closed up shop

Michael Bastasch | Contributor

It seems that even begging Uncle Sam for money doesn’t guarantee you’ll stay in business — just ask Solyndra.

Documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request show that 10 out of 18 green car companies that asked the federal government for support have since gone bankrupt or halted operations, reports Jalopnik.

The Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program was intended to hand out loans to companies to create advanced technology vehicles that would meet higher fuel efficiency standards.

However, the program has been controversial ever since the near collapse of the luxury hybrid maker Fisker Automotive, which got a $192 million loan guarantee and now appears unlikely to repay the entire loan.

The program has since come under intense criticism by Republicans who say taxpayer money was wasted and that the program failed to deliver on its promises of job creation.

“Fisker’s troubles are a sad reminder of the Department of Energy’s loan failures. The jobs we were promised never materialized,” said Michigan Republican Rep. Fred Upton and Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Tim Murphy.

However, many of the car companies that failed blamed their failure on the fact that they did not receive any taxpayer dollars, reports Jalopnik.

“Each of these applicants has been caught for several years in a costly and extensive DOE due-diligence process,” said William Santana Li, CEO of Carbon Motors — one of the companies that did not get government funding. “Carbon Motors simply appears to be the last victim of this political gamesmanship.”

Jalopnik obtained documents from September 2011, so the list of companies that applied is not a complete one. However, no money has been handed out by the DOE since the failure of the solar company Solyndra.

Fisker and the Vehicle Production Group (VPG) both received federal loan guarantees and are on the verge of bankruptcy. VPG got a $50 million government loan and has stopped production and laid off all their employees.

VPG was estimated to make up to 22,000 gasoline and natural gas-powered vehicles annually and create 900 permanent jobs, but the company halted production last year after the DOE cut off its funding — they only built 2,500 MV-1 vans.

Fisker lost $557,000 on each of the 2,000 luxury hybrid Karmas it sold worldwide — only 900 were sold in the United States. The company has not built a car since July 2012.

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