Fox News Attacks US Loans to Fisker and Tesla

According to Fox News, the US Department of Energy threw away nearly $1 billion in loans to Fisker Automotive and Tesla Motors—two Calif.-based auto startups trying to produce the next generation of American-made energy-efficient cars. On several of its shows, including America’s Newsroom and Your World, Fox News criticized the loans because Fisker and Tesla currently produce expensive cars that are made in Europe.

Moreover, Fox insinuated that Fisker received the DOE loan because of its connection with former vice-president and global warming activist Al Gore. America’s Newsroom co-host Martha MacCallum said: “Listen to this. The US government is making a $529 million loan to a small car company that happens to be backed by former Vice President Al Gore. Get this. It’s called the Karma. It’s a hybrid. It’s built by Fisker Automotive. The price tag for this greenmobile is about $89,000.”

During the segment, on-screen text read, “Americans Fund Car Co That Will Create Jobs…In Finland.”

Fox News contributor Stephen Moore stated, “I think most of the people watching this show, I think, would question the wisdom of the Department of Energy giving out these grants in the first place. But I think the vast, vast majority of Americans would say, at least if we do it, find an American company that’s going to employ American workers to do this.”

Clip of Fox News’s America’s Newsroom, pulled by the non-profit Media Matters.

While the all-electric Tesla Roadster is currently being built in England, and components of the Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid are made in Finland, Fox neglected to fully explain that the loans will be used to establish US manufacturing facilities for more affordable future models.

The DOE loan will support Fisker engineering work to be conducted at the company’s Pontiac, Mich. office, with support from its Irvine, Calif. headquarters. Fisker estimates that it will produce 75,000 to 100,000 of a more affordable plug-in hybrid—about $45,000—every year beginning in late 2012. DOE officials said they spent months working with Fisker on its application, touring its Irvine and Pontiac facilities and test-driving prototypes.

Tesla received a $465 million government loan to support production of its Model S—expected to sell for around $55,000. Production is scheduled to begin in 2011 and ramp up to 20,000 vehicles per year by the end of 2013. The new manufacturing facility is expected to create 1,000 jobs in Southern California. The rest of the loan will support a new facility to manufacture battery packs and electric drivetrains, employing about 650 people in Northern California.”

Your World host Neil Cavuto acknowledged, “Some of that cash will go toward building cars here, but that is years down the road.”

Fisker’s top investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a veteran Silicon Valley venture-capital firm of which Gore is a partner. Employees of KPCB have donated more than $2.2 million to political campaigns, mostly for Democrats, including President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Congress established the $25 billion alternative vehicle loan program during former President George Bush’s administration in 2007 to provide incentives for automakers to invest in green technology. The DOE has awarded $8 billion to Ford and Nissan. The low-cost loans will carry a discounted interest rate of about 5 percent. Automakers have up to 25 years to repay the money.


  • Corby Ziesman

    I think it’s also worth noting that not even all of the cars made by the big three American car companies are 100% built in the USA. Many models are badge-engineered captive imports… just re-branded models made by foreign divisions like Opel or Holden… or else made by different car companies altogether like Toyota or Suzuki.

  • Tony

    Newsflash (no pun intended) but it was the liberal/greenish blog Earth2Tech that first reported – approvingly I might add – that the allocation of federal funds to cleantech startups is correlated to their relationships with political connections of the current administration, with Al Gore being named specifically. Even the causal observer would have to agree that the odds against the funding decision being made completely independently of Gore’s relationship with the recipients is like a quadrillion to one.

    I’m not saying that some of the money isn’t going to be spent domestically (as you pointed out that FNC acknowledged). I’m not even saying the funding is a bad idea. I’d love to have the option to buy a $45k version of something using technology even remotely related to that contained in the Tesla Roadster. But when you start complaining loudly and irrationally about a media outlet that has the gall to report accurately about something, you start to sound like — well, like Media Matters. And if you don’t watch it, you’re going to end up tarnishing not only yourselves, but all of us, with about their level of credibility.

  • jonathan king

    Hardly comes as a surprise that Fox News (what a misnomer !) is a mouthpiece for the republican right wing. Partial truths, deliberately misleading headlines and conclusions, and willful ignorance of how the world economy works, all masquerading as a news channel?
    Where does Fox think Chevrolet are going to get the batteries for the Volt ? Where does america buy its oil from ?

    The trouble is, media does matter, it’s where most people get their ‘information’ from, and most are too busy, and some too lazy, to double check what they read or hear.

  • Samie

    Agree w/ most of the comments however I would say that you could argue the Department of Energy should only give out loans/grants to those who assemble their vehicles in the United States. If you want manufacturing jobs, reward those who assemble their vehicles in the U.S even if unfinished parts come from other countries. So it does not matter if its a Prius or Volt, as long as you assemble it here. I agree this is not Fox News point, but it is a legitimate question the key here is Al Gore nothing more or less… Most media liberal or conservative fails to look at the real issues only narrow he said she said garbage w/o looking at the full spectrum of issues only to distract most of society from the real issues….

  • dank2345

    I have to agree with Jonathan King. I consider myself a politically independant so I don’t care about party connections. I think back to what all of our grandmothers taught us; whats worse than a lie? 1/2 the truth.

  • Anonymous

    Lol, Fox news is notorious for withholding key information and reporting under false pretenses. I’m surprised they haven’t been sued for slander.

  • uktiger

    who cares what FauX news reports…Thank goodness a little bit of money found its way to innovators. Good luck Fisker and Tesla.

  • Slandy

    The truth of the matter is that both Fisker and Tesla are American companies, and both are based in California. Fisker’s engineering center is in Pontiac, MI. Fisker’s first model, the Karma, will be assembled in Finland, by the company that currently assembles the Porsche Boxster and Cayman. The loan that is the subject here is to develop a lower cost model THAT WILL BE PRODUCED IN THE US. Fox News is sensationalizing and misrepresenting this story – specifically to try to undermine the Obama administration. It was correctly pointed out already that the Bush administration set this program up, and Nissan has already been given a much larger loan than this, and they are based in Japan – which is where the intellectual property resides, as well as where the profits go, regardless of the manufacturing location. I’d rather my tax dollarsgo to Fisker and Tesla than Nissan or Toyota any day.

  • Eric

    One thing I’ve learned from Fox News…If they report something as good or bad the opposite is closer to the truth.

    Fair and Balanced? Who do you think you are fooling?

  • Jason

    Some how Steve Moore took a $500 Million loan and turned it into a $1 Billion loan. Let me be clear, yes $1 Billion was spent on Fisker and Tesla. BUT! I noticed that there was no mention of Tesla building the Model S in California. Steve Moore also mentions, to put his foot in his mouth, that it would be OK if we backed an American company and American workers……TESLA! Like dank’s grandmother said 1/2 truths are more dangerous then lies, because you don’t know when to believe them and when not.

    There was also no mention of Daimler investing in Tesla and buying the Tesla battery to install into the European eSmart Car. (P.S. Why doesn’t America cell this eSmart car?) GM had the EV1 and look what happened to that in the 90′s. Bush tried to help the oil companies develop fuel cells. We can charge our car at the house and not give any money to the oil companies. Not on Bush’s watch. If the cars were fuel cell then we would still have to go to a “filling station”, pay and DEPEND on big oil to get us around. So lets build H-2′s at 8 miles to the gallon (because it is cool) and scrap the EV1 (because it is too out there.)

    Capitalism works when there is demand. In the case of new technologies it has always been the rich that buy these specialty products. The technology then gets better and cheaper and more people can afford it so the demand goes up. This creates competition. Competition creates a race to make better lighter and cheaper versions of the “new trend.” (Not to mention new companies and JOBS!) Look at cell phones. Look at computers. Better yet look at Flat Screen TV’s. I bought a 22 inch flat screen 6 years ago for $1,200. 2 years ago I bought a 32 inch for $900. That was only 4 years! As far as a car company is concerned, I would have rather given Tesla and Fisker the Billions that the crooks at GM got!

  • Scott Z

    Normal Fox garbage. The most bias news channel there is. If you can call it news. Show me an American car company that designs, buys parts and builds 100% in America. There are none. The Chevy Volt is buying their batteries from Korea. It is a world market. That’s just a fact.

    I really hate all this political bias. I fall in the middle so I get to hate both sides.

  • BOBSKY

    Re: Tony

    Fox news, and CNN for that matter, DISTORTS the truth. Of course it is true that money is going to these companies. Of course it is true that they employ folks on the other side of the pond. At issue here is what Fox does on an extremely regular basis – Concentrate on the bad and give a VERY short mention of the good. Fox news is only a news organization if you consider tabloids news.

    Fox News – We distort, you decide! (…and we make gobs of money spreading ignorance!)

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, Bobsky, I just have to disagree on the facts. Fox News doesn’t tell me things that aren’t true. They are the only news outlet about which I can make that claim.

  • Klee

    Right on Slandy!

  • Tony

    Samie,

    The only reason that the location where the jobs will be created is an issue is because we’re talking about Recovery Act funds. The specific purpose of the Recovery Act is to help create jobs here in the US.

    As you point out, whether federal money in general should be spent on activities that will create jobs outside the US is debatable. Whether Recovery Act funds should be spent in such a manner is not debatable — they should not be.

  • Anonymous

    “Fox News doesn’t tell me things that aren’t true”. C’mon…ok, there is a difference between responsibly and irresponsibly reporting the facts. Just admit to that at least. If you disagree, then I’d guess that you think Bill Clinton didn’t “lie” when he said “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”.

  • Anonymous

    Do you know how long it takes to get a car to production? And they didn’t even design this car yet, not to mention they haven’t even built the building in which it will be produced. This car is at the very least, 4 years away.

    The loans need to go to a car company that will make an affordable car, $45-$55K is too high. Make a hybrid sedan for under $20K and I will support the loan, I don’t care what country they are made in.

  • DaveC

    This is the pinnacle of irresponsible reporting!! I won’t single FOX out since I think most networks these days are pushing an agenda..but Wow..I don’t even know where to start with the misinformation and cherry picked facts.

    Bottom line is that there isn’t a manufacturing company in the US these days that isn’t outsourcing some part of their production to another part of the world. And this is a LOAN..from a program specifically set up to advance fuel efficient vehicles (not create jobs)..they have to pay it back with interest. It’s great that they are creating jobs both in the US and elsewhere..but this wasn’t a criteria for the loan. Most of Detroit was just handed a bail out for decades of irresponsible business practice. This is really want should be outraging tax payers!

    Additional they kept showing the new Tesla Model S while quoting the $109,000 Roadster price tag. These are different cars. The Model S is still expensive at $50k..but the price is dropping fast and the 3rd gen car is expected be in the $30k range.

    I think Tesla and Fisker have shown very innovative business models. They are getting customers/”investors” with the interest and money to do so, to take a bit of risk and fund the next development cycle. The longer you can wait for this..the better and cheaper the product will be. This is the future and as time has shown us, new technologies start costly and come rapidly down in price. Thankfully, there are people/early adopters that are willing to take a chance and pay the price so that these things become available to everyone.

  • Russell Datz

    FOX News did all Americans a disservice by misrepresenting the facts. The key messages here are that all of the funds must be spent within the US that they will create or save at least 5,000 American jobs and ultimately prevent the import of some 43 million barrels of oil. FOX also called Fisker Automotive a Finnish company, when in fact it is based in Irvine, California and has already supported, with private funding, hundreds of US jobs through the worst period the auto industry has ever faced.

  • Anonymous

    this gives crazy like a fox a whole new meaning

  • smatalec44

    Why wasn’t anyone complaining about the $4,000 junker incentive that was allowed on American and foreign cars.Why should our taxes make Toyota,Honda etc. easier to sell and increase their bottom line at the expense of our American workers.

    Isn’t it bad enough that the foreign countries are subsidizing and dumping their foreign car product in America.We as taxpayers are also subsidizing them with the $4,000 junker deal.

  • Truth Sayer

    You sir are a right wing TOOL, as in, you swollow all the boneheaded illogical retoric of the rightwing media TOOL Fox. Just once I would like to see these morons who fall for the rights scare tactics and end up voting for and supporting policies the hurt THEM. they seem to be too stupid to realize that the right is all about corporate profits. When will these people come to thier collective senses and see that they are hurting themselves. They are sheep that don’t seem to realize that they are not included in the rights vision of a prosperous nation. Just the 1% of the population that holds 95% of the wealth. WAKE UP!

  • Tony

    “Fox News doesn’t tell me things that aren’t true”.
    C’mon…ok, there is a difference between responsibly and irresponsibly reporting the facts.

    I don’t take your point. There is a difference between accurately and inaccurately reporting the facts, and like their point of view or not, Fox is the one cable news outlet out there that does not habitually inaccurately report the facts.

    “Just admit to that at least. If you disagree, then I’d guess that you think Bill Clinton didn’t “lie” when he said “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”.

    I still don’t understand what you’re saying. Bill Clinton said he hadn’t had sexual relations with that woman when he had had sexual relations with that woman. Thus he lied. You could either report that he did lie, which would be accurate, or that he did not, which would be inaccurate. The only examples I can come up with of irresponsible reporting would be the accurate reporting of facts that could bring some kind of harm. For example the reporting of classified material. I don’t see any connection here at all, which I presume means I’m missing what you’re trying to convey.

    Fox News reported that recovery act funds were going to EV companies that are supported by Al Gore (true); which probably received the funds as a result of their connection to Al Gore (true); and that were going to spend at least a large portion of those funds outside the US (again, true). They could have been a bit clearer about the fact that the funds in question were recovery act funds, intended expressly to create jobs in the US, which is the reason the loans were inappropriate. Keep in mind that there were also preexisting government loan guarantee programs already in place – thanks to George W. Bush – for these same kinds of investments. These loans in and of themselves aren’t controversial, at least not to Republicans — heck, they were our idea! The sole issue is the use of recovery act funds for purposes not directly resulting in the creation of US jobs. And I submit that any news organization failing to report on that is acting, in a word, irresponsibly.

  • Tom

    All news sources distort the truth, fox comes from a more traditional view point, that does not make them wrong, all of the networks do this. Frankly having been independent in views and being a detroit grown democrat, I often watch fox more than the others because I was brought up to love the country I live in and not second guess everything the government does which all the other stations seem to clearly have an anti-repulican view, I don’t need that crap either, I don’t need either view point shoved down my throat, so I favor the one that at least does not make everything done by our country the past 60 years to be wrong. Also I did not like Bush, but I did not hate him either and the way the office was treated by the democrat party for the past 6 years especially, well this past election I voted republican for the 1st time, which would make me racist except I’m a proud hard working african american, and the left now call’s me an uncle tom for not towing the line? I will not be back to the democrat party until it starts to come back to me.

  • Rae V

    $45-55k is too high? When was the last time you even looked at a new car sticker?! The only thing new you will get for under $20k is a tiny four-banger econo-box… and with a hybrid version of any current vehicle running anywhere from $4k-10k more, there is no chance a full-electric will be anywhere near that $20 k mark, probably ever considering the rate at which automobile baseline prices continue to rise. Your average middle-class American family right now is swinging 2 car notes for $30k-$50k for all those guzzling SUV’s… $45k is right in the range most Americans that are buying cars pay.

  • ACAGal

    Fisker’s HQ is in So CA (Irvine) CA, the drive train is made by Quantum, also of the OC, as is the solar. The deal in Finland was set up before GM folded. The federal deal is for a family car, “Nina” to be made in the USA. Maybe Fox is unhappy because both Tesla and the Karma are so Californian, and far ahead of the old boy’s club..

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  • JamesDavis

    Faux is a bucket of rotten republican apples that modeled themselves after their demi-god Bush Jr. and every time they open their mouths…they spew lies and deception.

    Telsa and Fisher is more American than any of the three big auto makers and Faux News knows that. I look forward to the day when the only cars on the road will be Telsa and Fisher.

  • Duke

    Is Mr. Cavuto’s car engine and many other parts made by GM? Does he ever check Wikipedia or corporate web sites even once in a while to look up info about the kind and caring people who pay US taxes working for Fisker Automotive in a number of US cities?

    Nationalism aside, I would be more than happy to take Mr. Cavuto out for a ride when I receive mine. Yes… Americans are supporting American car companies based in California AND American Oil companies when we drive past the initial 50 miles of electric charge and the GM engine kicks in.

    During our incredible ride experience, I will be pointing out that the electricity used to propel this awesome looking and mechanically inspired work of art, just happens to be made in the US. I also will share that my zero CO2 emissions, when in pure electric mode, will not be contributing to any plant photosynthesis aside the US roads we are journeying past. So sorry.

    Then I’ll ask Mr. Cavuto whether he would prefer a Finish assembled Fisker because their employees probably buy US made products from time to time, or wait for a couple more years for a less costly version significantly made and assembled on US soil… because the US Government lent, not gave, this company some money to provide US jobs at that US manufacturing facility and at all the Fisker dealerships across America.

    P.S. To fully disclose, which I can’t recall if I ever hear Fox News personalities or guests do, I do own shares in at least one of the companies contributing parts and expertise in the building of my soon to be made Fisker Karma. And, I believe that I placed my financially supportive deposit before former V.P. Al Gore joined one investment group initially funding Fisker Automotive. Plus most importantly, I appreciate all the hard work and dedication of everyone at hybridcars.com and offer a Karma ride to some of you as well. So there…