Friday, October 21, 2011

Fisker-gate?

On the heels of the Solyndra scandal, ABC News has "uncovered" another DOE loan program that appears--at first glance--to be another mess for the administration. Appearances can be deceiving.

From the ABC News article:
With the approval of the Obama administration, an electric car company that received a $529 million federal government loan guarantee is assembling its first line of cars in Finland, saying it could not find a facility in the United States capable of doing the work. 
Vice President Joseph Biden heralded the Energy Department's $529 million loan to the start-up electric car company called Fisker as a bright new path to thousands of American manufacturing jobs. But two years after the loan was announced, the job of assembling the flashy electric Fisker Karma sports car has been outsourced to Finland.
Looks bad, right? A US company taking government monies, then building its product overseas. But here's the thing, the DOE loan program that Fisker successfully applied to doesn't require the company to limit itself. And in fact, the company claims that none of the government loan monies are being used to fund the Finnish operations. I'd guess this could be easily verified  and doubt the company would lie. It has gotten substantial investments from the private sector, too.

Remember, the real problem with the Solyndra mess is that it was improperly vetted, it was a bad investment and this was obvious from the get-go. We can't yet say that about Fisker.

It's fair to question the loan program, of course. One might argue that the DOE shouldn't be doling out these kinds of monies at all, that companies should make due with the private sector investors. And that's completely fair, in my opinion. I think it's also completely correct.

But the program is there. The money is on the table. Fisker applied for the loan and met the requirements. From all I've seen and read, they have a real product to offer with a real market for that product. The attack on the company for doing what it feels is necessary to achieve that end is unjustified. The "jobs in Finland" angle isn't a legitimate complaint, it's ginned up outrage.

Cheers, all.

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