Romney Labels Tesla and Fisker “Losers” in Debate
Neither U.S. electric car manufacturers nor Sesame Street’s Big Bird were safe from political barbs during the first Presidential debate held on Wednesday, October 3, in Denver. Republican nominee Mitt Romney took aim at everything from government support for PBS broadcasting, to electric car companies such as Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive, which he labeled as “losers” in President Obama’s plan to support green energy firms with billions of dollars in loans and tax breaks.
In 2009, Tesla Motors received $465 million in U.S. loans to help expedite production of the Model S sedan, which went on sale this year. Fisker Automotive received a loan of $529 million and is presently working to bring the smaller and more affordable Atlantic sedan to market. Perhaps in response to Mr. Romney’s labeling his company as a loser, Tesla Motor’s CEO Elon Musk issued an online statement regarding an accelerated repayment plan of the government loan.
“Far from being worried about our survival, the DOE [Department of Energy] is highly bullish about our future and doesn’t want us to delay early repayment of the loan if we have the cash on hand to do so,” wrote Mr. Musk, as reported by Bloomberg. “I am happy to announce that we will be initiating an advance payment today to prefund the principal payment that is due in March 2013.”
Fisker has not commented directly to the Presidential debate comments, though the company’s chief executive officer, Tony Posawatz, recently told reporters Fisker has a long “to-do list” and has been in discussions with “strategic partners.” While not every aspect of the Federal government’s green initiative has gone according to plan – failed solar panel maker Solyndra was also hit with Romney’s L-word – it seems remarkably premature to completely write off upstart EV makers like Tesla and Fisker.
Both companies have had their fair share of difficulties, be it production delays or mysterious engine fires. Yet Mr. Romney, who was widely accepted as the winner of Wednesday’s debate, underlined his opinion of these new enterprises with the brusque comment that they should already be considered failures.
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