“If we want to make the best products, we also have to invest in the best ideas.” This language along with “energy independence” and “clean energy “are a reoccurring themes with the Obama Administration, but are actions by the Department of Energy backing up the rhetoric?
Let’s circle back to the President’s 2011 State of the Union Address, in which he promised that the United States would become “the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.”
Recently, the Department of Energy has backed away from this target. Shocking, right? Well, with only 71,000 electric vehicles currently on the road, the Administration has a long way to go in order to fulfill its promise to the American taxpayers.
The Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program (ATVM), a program designated to achieve better technology, innovation, and jobs, has since come under scrutiny. In a recent Washington Post article, Carol D. Leonning notes:
The program, “which is run by the Energy Department, invited ‘green’ carmakers to compete for huge, low-interest government loans that they could use to ramp up production, inside the United States, of electric and alternative vehicles that would reduce fuel emissions…So far, the program has only loaned $8.5 billion of its authorized funds.”
Headlining the New York Times earlier this week, John M. Broder’s less-than laudatory review of the Tesla Model S Sedan illustrates the failure of the electric vehicle to retain a battery charge and maintain operation within the allotted mile range between charges. Tesla is just one of the five recipients of the Department’s ATVM Program, and part of the “solution” which the Administration boasted about, according to the Broder’s review:
“The federal government has invested in the effort to find a solution. Three years ago, Steven Chu, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist and secretary of energy, proudly announced a $465 million loan to Tesla as part of an advanced vehicles program intended to cut fossil fuel use and address global warming.”
One critic, Charles Lane of the Washington Post, went so far as to declare the ATVM loan program a “case study in unchecked righteousness.” We agree. Who is holding the DOE accountable for their poor selections in loan recipients? Why did the DOE reject other, well-qualified candidates? And on what basis were these loans awarded?
Take XP Vehicles, for example. They’re a green-energy startup based out of San Francisco, California who applied for the ATVM loan program in November 2008. Their design cost less than $20,000, required no gasoline or extension cords to charge, was easy to repair and build, and used crash effect reduction materials. So why aren’t their affordable and reliable cars out on the road? DOE denied their loan.
Cause of Action has since stepped in, and is challenging the DOE’s process through which they granted these loans. We’re concerned the DOE has acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner, inconsistently favoring some, while disadvantaging other applicants. These loan programs were intended to promote U.S. advanced technology companies and to reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil. Instead, we’ve only found ourselves with thousands of unsold cars, unfulfilled promises, and a growing distrust in the government.
There are other more deserving applicants of the ATVM loan program. We’re certain of it.
XP Vehicles may be just one of many applicants worthy of reconsideration, but they’re certainly a good place to start.