In the first presidential debate, Mitt Romney said of Obama’s green energy initiatives “You don’t pick winners and losers, you only pick losers.” The list of so-called losers, which already included the well-known Solyndra and the Chevy Volt also included Finnish car company Fisker. Fisker’s new electric vehicle, Karma, was created with a $529 million loan guarantee from Obama’s Department of Energy (DOE) and, as with previous green projects, it is not looking as though the taxpayers can expect repayment.
The high-end luxury vehicle has a price tax of $102,000 (more than $10,000 more than projected) and the main question is, will it sell? Will Fisker be able to repay the taxpayers? It’s looking like the answer is no. Extreme Tech reviewed the car, saying “Bottom line: The Fisker Karma is a pretty much a Chevrolet Volt in a better wrapper. Just multiply the wow factor, handling, and cost by a factor of three…Whether that’s worth $100,000 is less certain.” With the Volt and lesser-known competitor Nissan Leaf selling so poorly, it is reasonable to be skeptical.
The DOE has said that Fisker has “experienced some delays in its sales and production schedule.” They have also recalled the vehicle three times, once due to fire, which causes one to be even more skeptical that it is even safe to drive. Or if you would want to. Consumer Reports says “The controls are a nightmare, and the interior of the car is quite claustrophobic. In addition, acceleration isn’t what you’d expect from a sports car…You can do better.” Surely, for such a steep price tag, it should be the pinnacle of electric automobiles.
Another failed facet of the Karma is the promise of American jobs. Fisker was to open a production plant in Delaware which would begin hiring employees in July. They were to hire 40 employees initially with an additional 80 this fall. By 2014, Fisker projected 2,000 jobs at the facility plus 3,000 supplier jobs by 2014. Instead, out of money, they halted work and began laying off employees in Delaware as well as laying off employees at their California plant in August.
Obama has invested $5 billion in electric cars, but sales are far from reaching their goal of 1 million electric vehicles on American roads by 2015. The Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf are far below expectations. Is there any reason to expect that the public is clamoring for the Karma? Perhaps we should let the open market decide rather than gambling with taxpayer money.