To combat the negative press that followed the loss of $535 million in the Solyndra bankruptcy, the Department of Energy (DOE) created a slideshow highlighting their favorite loan recipients. Oddly, the presentation emphasizes a Finnish electric car company that received a $529 million loan guarantee, but recently began laying off employees and reportedly planning to cancel the manufacture of vehicles in the United States.
Fisker’s Karma, a $115,000 electric car, received the 2012 Design of the Year award from Automobile Magazine. The award came with a warning, though: “There is no way to know yet whether Fisker will be a Lamborghini-style success or a De Lorean-style failure.”
DOE mentioned the Fisker award in its “Beyond Solyndra” slideshow. “In fact, while critics have focused their attention on the Department’s loan guarantee to Solyndra, the full story is that the Department’s loan portfolio as a whole is having a transformative impact,” DOE said in a note on the presentation.
House Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee said it is “beyond belief” that Fisker would make such a highlight reel.
Two months after winning the Design Award, Fisker laid off 66 employees, as it was running out of the $193 million of the loan that DOE had already disbursed. The remainder of the loan was frozen in May 2011 because “Fisker has experienced some delays in its sales and production schedule,” DOE spokesman Damien Lavera explained.
Fisker, which is based in Finland, threatened in April to pull out of Delaware – three years after Vice President Joe Biden visited the factory in his state that was supposed to employ about 2500 people — if the federal government didn’t provide subsidies.
“[I]t is indeed clear that the automaker is all set to drop its plans of building next generation hybrid electric vehicles in U.S.,” Auto World News reported at the end of May 2012. “The impossible yet possible decision comes from the world class automaker Fisker even after the Barack Obama administration issues a hefty loan check of approximate $200 million to its credit.”