AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Elon Musk, Tesla’s ever enigmatic CEO, announced over Twitter that the company will likely repay its government debt by Wednesday, May 22.
The U.S. Department of Energy recovered $21 million from Fisker Automotive, the floundering company behind the Karma plug-in hybrid luxury car.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is backing away from its previously announced plan to see 1 million electric cars on U.S. roads by 2015, saying the timeline isn’t really all that important.
A year riddled with controversy for electric cars is winding down, but not without at least one more flare up — Chinese firm Wanxiang Group won the bidding war for A123 Systems.
When it comes to the auto industry, oil isn’t the only thing imported from foreign countries and subject to supply issues and price spikes. The same is true of the rubber in your car’s tires, though a solution could lie in a simple, resilient weed that grows freely across the American southwest.
Unlike exotic EV maker Tesla’s relative success story, Fisker’s has been one riddled with scandal and financial scrambling, the latest of which sings to the tune of $150 million.
Bright Automotive has just announced its plans to close up shop. It blames the Department of Energy (DOE) for not helping secure a $314 million loan.
In a letter to DoE secretary Steven Chu, Bright execs wrote that the government failed them and ultimately lost “hundreds of great manufacturing and technical jobs … and thousands of indirect jobs in Indiana and Michigan”
The company was founded in 2008, and planned on releasing a plug-in hybrid van (seen above) but has yet to manufacture any.
In 2007, the government offered loans to companies that would produce energy-efficient vehicles. Programs like this helped get Tesla off the ground, but lately it seems like the DOE is killing off more ideas than breeding innovation.
Readers may be reminded of another inventive company called Aptera which also closed its doors a short while ago. Both companies floundered after finding that their projected funding from the DOE program would fall through.
Last week we brought you a story about Aperta employees boorishly smashing the remaining shells of their 2e electric vehicle, including quotes from their disgruntled former CEO, Steve Fambro. You may wonder how things went so wrong.
If you haven’t been following the Aptera saga, or if you don’t know what Aptera is, this is a good time to jump in.
Rewind to 2006 where founders Steve Fambro and Chris Anthony found a company called Aptera with the intent to build and sell super-efficient electric vehicles. They planned to take advantage of a program offered by the Department of Energy by which companies could take over abandoned factories and enjoy low-interest loans if they made vehicles 25 percent more efficient than those they would replace.
Aptera had a funky three-wheeled car in mind that looked a lot like a tear drop made out of plastic composite. In September of 2008 Fambro found himself on the outside of the company, replaced as CEO by Paul Wilbur.
By December, Aptera’s application for money from the DoE had been submitted and promptly rejected— three-wheeled cars apparently didn’t qualify.
Over the next two years Tesla and Fisker both recieve hundreds of millions of dollars in DoE funding, and three wheel cars are provisioned for subsidy by the DoE.
In 2010 Aptera re-applies and was denied funding again, this time becuause the DoE says they cannot pay back capital costs for the company.
Shortly afterwards, the company re-allocated their remaining resources to developing a four-wheeled sedan that had a better chance of catching on.
At this point the DoE committed $150 million in loans on the condition that the company also secure $80 million in private funding. That proved to be too much. Aptera simply couldn’t find investors to pour money into their company after another operation failed to get funding because of their similar plastic composite bodies.
By early December of this year the company had run out of cash and needed to shut down. They decided to execute the close early enough to distribute remaining cash reserves among their employees as severance.
In an interview with Green Car Reports, Wilbur admitted that they spent too much time chasing DoE finding and that a better path would have been to look for private money from the beginning. The DoE, he said, took far too long to yield any money for Aptera to stay afloat.
[Source: Green Car Reports]
Behold, the new bar for fuel economy: 126 highway miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe). Which car is championing these figures? The Mitsubishi i electric vehicle.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Fuel Economy Guide ranked the Mitsubishi i electric vehicle at the top for fuel consumption. The competing Nissan Leaf stacks up 13 MPGe lower at a still impressive 99 MPGe. The Mitsubishi i beats the Leaf in city and highway fuel economy, making it the most efficient car on the road.
Yoichi Yokozawa, President and CEO of Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA) said the company was pleased to be rated at the top of the EPA’s Fuel Economy guide.
“With 17,000 i-MiEV-based units produced for various international markets, we look forward to providing North American consumers with an exceptionally well-engineered electric vehicle that has proven itself to be reliable, safe, efficient and very affordable in overall price and cost of operation,” he said.
The Annual Fuel Guide, published in cooperation by the EPA and Department of Energy, offers consumers information far beyond what appears on a car’s window sticker. They also offer advice on how to improve fuel efficiency.
The Mitsubishi i isn’t available at the moment, but MMNA expects to start releasing them in North America late this month.