“Obama suggests $10,000 credit for hybrids and electric vehicles,” Bloomberg reported.
Despite low sales of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and Nissan’s Leaf, the President proposed expanded tax credits and community research grants to make alternative-energy cars and trucks more attractive to buyers.
For the past couple of years purchasers of electric-powered vehicles have qualified for a $7,500 tax credit. Money does not seem to be the answer to boost sales.
Proof: Through the first quarter of this year, Chevrolet’s Volt plug-in hybrid has rung up sales of 3,915. That amounts to .008 percent of total Chevrolet sales for the period.
The Leaf has faltered even more: Only 1,733 sales in three months, or .005 percent of Nissan’s U.S. sales for the first quarter of 2012.
Let’s look at the Fed’s success so far for “Retooling for Fuel Efficiency”:
• 2007 -- The Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program is established as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act.
• 2008 -- Congress appropriates $7.5 billion to support a maximum of $25 billion in loans under the program. It kicks in another $10 million for the U.S. Department of Energy to administer it.
• 2009 -- DOE makes first loan commitment to Ford Motor Co. for $5.9 billion to help the automaker retool 11 factories in five states.
• Jan. 2010 -- Nissan Motor Co. receives a $465 million loan agreement to reopen the former New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. factory in Fremont, Calif., to build the electrical Model S, as well as battery packs and electric motors.
• April 2010 -- Fisker Automotive gets a $529 million loan agreement to retool a former General Motors plant in Wilmington, Del., for production of plug-in hybrids.
• Jan. 2011 - General Motors withdraws its request for $14.4 billion in loans, saying it has enough cash to fund vehicle development.
• March 2011 - The Vehicle Production Group gets a $50 million loan commitment to build a wheelchair accessible vehicle that runs on compressed natural gas.
• Dec. 2011 - Electric Vehicle startup Aptera Motors closes, saying delays in the DOE loan process hurt its ability to attract other investors. It had sought a $150 million government loan.
• Feb. 2012 - Fisker Automotive suspends work at its Wilmington, Del., plant, where it had planned to start production on plug-in hybrids. It lays off 26 workers as it renegotiates its DOE loan. Fisker, marketing a $103,000 sports car, has been troubled by two recall campaigns.
• Feb. 2012 - Bright Automotive a producer of plug-in hybrid vans, closes its plant in Michigan, after withdrawing a $314 million DOE loan application.
• Feb. 2012 - Chrysler Group withdraws request for less than $3.5 billion in loans, saying the terms were too restrictive.
• Feb. 2012 - DOE denies a $315 million request from Carbon Motors, an Indiana company that aimed to build diesel-powered police cars.
Another relatively new startup, A213 Systems Inc., was the supplier of a lithium-ion battery that recently exploded in a GM testing laboratory. The A213 company has received a $249 million loan from our federal government to build battery plants.
Also, Azure Dynamics Corp., a maker of electric delivery vans has folded. It sold only 800 vans last year vs. breakeven projected sales of 3,000.
Thanks to Automotive News for some of the data printed above.
And, now, some GOOD NEWS! Automotive News reports “BMW beefs up global sales goal: 2 million in 2016.”
It was reported CEO Norbert Reithofer has officially raised the bar for BMW. The two million includes Mini and Rolls Royce brands.
Hitting its mark four years earlier than previously planned would make the milestone coincide with BMW’s 100th birthday.
This IS good news -- for the state of South Carolina AND the port of Charleston!
Dr. George G. Spaulding is a retired General Motors executive and distinguished executive-in-residence emeritus at the School of Business at the College of Charleston. He can be reached at 2 Wharfside St. 2A Charleston SC 29401.