By on October 25, 2007

rollingup.jpgThere's a lot riding on battery-maker A123's high energy capacitors. Their technology must be improved, tested and perfected for GM's Chevy Volt to make the transition from vaporware to showroom smash. According to Red Herring (how ironic is that?), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and five blue chip companies have placed their chips on the Massachusetts-based high-tech firm: Procter & Gamble (think Duracell), Alliance Capital, Motorola (think cell phones), Qualcomm and General Electric. Not to mention YOU, the American taxpayer. OnPoint, the U.S. Army's investment arm (I'm not making that up) gave A123 a financial boost during its fourth, $40m round of venture capital fund raising. Earlier this week, existing (that's you again) and new investors added another $30m to A123's kitty. And yesterday, GE scored two Department of Energy projects worth $6.8m to "accelerate the development of plug-in hybrids." A123 will perform the research on GE's behalf. Meanwhile, A123 has a drop-deadline of 2010 to get the Volt's batteries ship-shape. If GM loses face on this one, A123 will find it a lot harder to raise funds in the future.  

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15 Comments on “Volt Birth Watch 9: Your Tax Money Hardly at Work...”


  • avatar
    glenn126

    The lines blur between “capitalism” and socialism all the time. Russia and red China government tax monies and military monies go into businesses, as well.

    GM, Ford and (then) Chrysler managed to swallow (and then p!ss away) tens of millions of dollars of OUR tax money in the “supercar” hybrid race under the Clinton administration.

    So what did they accomplish?

    A new 1995 through 2008 Chevrolet Volt 80 mpg hybrid family sized car? Don’t be a Dolt.

    A new 1995 through 2008 Ford MrFusion 80 mpg hybrid family sized car? You’d be under a delusion.

    A new 1995 through 2008 Chrysler Prescience 80 mpg hybrid family sized car? They were far to hesitant…..

    Socialism didn’t work well for Russians, the Chinese, Vietnamese, East Germany, western European nations, Canada…. anywhere. Yet we continue down this road. How dumb is that? The Detroit car makers, and others as indicated above, don’t mind soaking up money from Uncle Sugar, though, huh?

    So Toyota came out with Prius, developed since 1973 and paid for by their own corporate profits and the Detroit car makers snickered.

    And Honda came out with their hybrids, paid for by their own corporate profits and Detroit car makers snickered.

    Until gas hit $3.66 a gallon during hurricaine season awhile back, and oil futures recently went over $90 a barrel, now still over $88 a barrel.

    Now, Detroit ain’t laughing at Toyota or Honda any more, and they haven’t any profits to develop hybrids either, have they?

  • avatar
    kansei

    I just wanted to say excellent comment glenn126. While I would love to see some vital necessities socialized (medicine), I am revolted to think that the tax dollars I pay the government get funneled into GM, Ford, and Chrysler.

    Enough with the subsidies already! JUST LET THEM DIE. If they made decent cars, managed the companies well, and weren’t under the firm grasp of the UAW, they wouldn’t be in such a horrible situation. It isn’t MY fault they make trash cars. If they made good cars, maybe I wouldn’t buy every car I’ve ever owned from Mazda. They don’t.. they just make rental car TRASH

  • avatar

    How about a headline: US Taxpayers Back Oil Companies? This battery largesse is small potatoes compared to all the other corporate welfare going on.

    That said, remember ‘The Aviator’ scene in which Senator X (Alan Alda) tries to put the screws to Howard Hughes by recounting all the money Hughes’ companies were paid for aircraft that didn’t seem to happen? Hughes retort was that it was common throughout the industry. Some projects don’t work out, but we don’t know in advance which will and which won’t.

  • avatar
    stuntnun

    kansei –your mazda probably has a good chance of having ford dna in it –it owns over 30 percent of the company. ive got 2 rx7s and a 6 –i know the 6 has a ford duratec block under the hood.

  • avatar
    Orian

    Glenn,

    With the exception of Canada and perhaps some of the Western European countries you mentioned, all in your list are/were Communist.

    Communism has enough differences that it should not be listed/labeled as Socialism.

  • avatar
    glenn126

    The functional difference between Communism as practiced in the 20th & 21st centuries, and Socialism likewise, is merely semantics, Orian.

    Likewise, it didn’t matter whether people considered Nazi Germany to be far right wing, in reality, the end result was the same as other socialist / communist governments. Millions dead, a collapsed economy, and ultimately defeat.

    Of course, NAZI stood for National SOCIALIST party. Adolph nationalized (had the government take over) companies, if not in “actual ownership” in some cases, in reality – just as happened in post-WWII France (Renault was nationalized) and the UK (British Leyland was nationalized in 1973).

  • avatar

    Gentlemen,

    As interesting as a discussion about totalitarian governments is, it’s a bit off topic. Please refocus.

  • avatar
    NoneMoreBlack

    This is pretty small beans to constitute a discussion of the finer points of socialism. I don’t know how we got the idea that this is corporate welfare; the US military is funding research that it thinks it might want to use down the line. They funded a company that researches battery technology, which will likely end up being used by GM; this doesn’t mean they are subsidizing GM, they are simply interested in the same technologies for who knows what purpose. Maybe soldiers’ radios simply need a better battery.

    Besides, in the world of government waste some fraction of $30 million is within a standard deviation of 0; irrelevant.

  • avatar
    Ryan Knuckles

    NoneMoreBlack:
    In college, I did a research paper on emerging technologies. DARPA has been researching and funding research on military exoskeletons for decades. Their major hold-up is a next-gen battery. Not really of any relevance, I just thought it was interesting.

  • avatar
    Hippo

    Most effort goes into these things BEFORE funding is secured.
    In the US most often the funding is the primary goal and the product is secondary.

  • avatar
    glenn126

    Here is an interesting little article which gives a great definition of what “stupid” means, whether it be wasting money (I’m looking at you, Washington DC) or supporting socialism (for which I generally read “stupidism”). You kind of have to be patient and read to the end.

    http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=58329

    What I find really interesting, in contrast to stupidity, is how SMART our Japanese competitors have been over the past 60 years since we trounced them in war.

    Build good cars/gadgets/TVs/stereos/anything, learn from your mistakes, build better cars. Build it right the first time, which reduces the level warrantee work and the number of angry customers and increases repeat business, increasing profits from two different directions. Listen to the customers, don’t be like Mercedes or Detroit in thinking “ya, ve know best!” and foist stuff on people.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Correct me if I’m wrong,Is it not the a U.S Govt.goal to move away from importing oil?I agree we are still 5yrs away from a plug in car.Govt money should move research along.
    We have had electric motors for a long time, and batterys for a long time. I think we get the right people working on this{smart people like getting paid} it should work.
    Just an example from my world. We run lift trucks 24hrs a day.Even a few years ago battery changes were regular.Battery technology improved and battery change intervals got longer and longer.The new ones you just plug them in at down times.If battery technology keeps growing, and why woulldn’t it ?The Chevy volt will be the right car at the right time.
    Glenn 126: I can’t waste any more time posting.It seems that Chairman Harper wants me to go to work for the capitalist dogs.The motherland Canada needs the taxes.Gotta keep the comrades warm eh?

  • avatar
    KBW

    How else is the government going to get batteries for its killing machines of the future? This is no different than their funding of ARPANET and quite frankly who needs that piece of socialist crap.

  • avatar
    glenn126

    Aw heck, Mikey, here in the US we’re all of about 10 minutes behind you guys north of us in regards to “stupidism” (aka socialism). Didn’t you read my post referring to Washington DC (“stupidism” squared)?

    Just wait until we get Rodamized with “stupidized medicine” after the next election – you guys north of the US border (as well as us south of the border) will have to go to England for private health care instead of an easy trip to the states, then. (The Brits have socialized medicine but also allow private medicine). What’s a 2nd mortgage compared to life vs. dying while waiting on an operation?

    Back on post, I just wish GM, Ford and Chrysler had used the actual money they received from Uncle Sugar to actually BUILD some real hybrid cars so they’d have something competitive right now – instead of continuing to try to ram SUVs down the public’s throat via “you gotta buy it now” marketing to push people into thinking they want something the probably really don’t need.

    I’ll put it another way. Friends with SUV’s get into my Prius and are ASTOUNDED as to “how they can get so much room in this LITTLE car” (not realizing that they just made an oxymoron – a little car cannot have lots of room).

    I answer them thusly. No frame – built like an airliner (unit body). No massive engine – more room for humans. Therefore, not hugely overweight, which means mechanical parts can be shrunk, making for smaller exterior and larger interior.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “If GM loses face on this one, A123 will find it a lot harder to raise funds in the future.”

    Not to worry, they will be in Brazil before anyone knows what happened.


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