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The Cornerstone of Obama’s Electric Car Dream Dies in Chapter 11

Obama's electric car dream dies in Chapter 11 What began with glorious promises of jobs, cleaner air, and a whole new automotive industry died this week in bankruptcy court.

In another story generating huge business headlines and being read all over the web (but virtually ignored by the mainstream media),  battery manufacturer A123 filed for bankruptcy Tuesday. The story of A123, which was founded in 2001, was created by entrepreneurs to make lithium ion phosphate batteries that could be used for generating significant power and long-life storage.

The company got $6 million grant from the Bush administration in 2007 to study and develop an effective, working model.  But then the company became part of Obama’s fairy tale — as the Wall Street Journal put it — about green jobs, that claimed millions of them that he could conjured up by investing taxpayer money.

In 2009, the feds doled out nearly $2.4 billion in grants to develop the next generation of electric powered cars and trucks. The Obama administration called it “the infrastructure of innovation.” Things went south from there.

The A123 battery needed a market, or a place to put the battery. So Obama doled out $529 million to the now ill-fated Fisker Car Company to produce plug-in cars that would use A123 products. But the Fisker quickly showed it was an unreliable line — one of the cars died and caught fire during a test drive in California, and the model tested by Consumer Reports died with less than 200 miles on it. The car had to be towed away on a flatbed truck! Fisker has stopped production,and defaulted on its $529 million loan to the feds.

Johnson Controls, a respected company in the U.S., will apparently get what’s left of the A123 company, and will continue to research and develop a battery that someday could effectively power a full-size car. But as the Wall Street Journal said, this isn’t so much about a technological failure; it goes beyond that:

More than any single failure, the larger lesson here is the eternal one about the folly of government industrial policy. Someday someone will find a way to store electric power for long periods, and someday someone may build a commercially viable electric car. We will be the first to cheer….

In 2008 President Obama sold voters a fairy tale about millions of “green jobs” that he could conjure up merely by “investing” taxpayer money. The 2012 election is in part a referendum on whether Americans can be fooled again.

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