Bloomberg Conceals Fisker Loan's Bush-Era Roots

Blog ››› ››› MAX GREENBERG

Source: Car and Driver

A Bloomberg article on troubled electric automaker Fisker reports that the company's co-founder was first encouraged by the Department of Energy to pursue its federal loan guarantee, but never clarifies that those overtures, as well as the loan program itself, began during the Bush administration.

Reporting on testimony by Henrik Fisker at a House committee hearing, Bloomberg wrote that the former executive "applied for taxpayer financing after being encouraged to by the Energy Department."

However, Bloomberg failed to note Fisker's statement that he was approached about the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) program during the Bush administration, even as it quoted a Republican congressman suggesting the Obama administration had chosen the company inexplicably. From Fisker's testimony:

In January 2008, Fisker Automotive showed the concept car for the Kanna at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Soon after, I was approached at a sustainability conference in California by Mr. John Mizroch, the then-Acting Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. We discussed the technology that Fisker Automotive was developing and he encouraged the company to apply for a loan from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program (ATVM). Fisker continued its conversations with the Department and the company applied for a loan at the end of 2008. At that time, we already had significant financial backing from private investors.

As noted by Politifact in 2012, Fisker also applied for the loan guarantee under George W. Bush, who had signed the program into law after it received broad bipartisan support: 

[Fisker received a loan guarantee from] the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program through the Energy Department. And it's not funded by Obama's stimulus bill -- otherwise known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. It is, in fact, a program signed into existence by President George W. Bush in 2007 and first funded by legislation Bush signed in 2008. The program was designed to support development of advanced technology vehicles. The Bush administration was in charge when the automaker filed its application. The Obama administration was in charge when the company's loan was approved.

The $193 million disbursed to Fisker (of $529 million originally granted) represents only 2.6 percent of the $7.5 billion set aside by Congress to cover losses from the ATVM program.

Another electric carmaker that received an ATVM loan, Tesla Motors, plans on paying back that loan five years early after making a profit in the first quarter of 2013.

UPDATE (4/24/13): Bloomberg has revised its headline and lede to reflect that the DOE urged Fisker to apply under the Bush administration. It has also added that Bush signed the ATVM program into law.

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