Denied DOE Loan Makes Carbon Cop Cars DOA

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

When solar panel maker Solyndra went bankrupt last year, which cost the taxpayer $528 million in DOE loan guarantees, the end of the DOE loan program was quickly prognosticated. The loan program is still around, but new loans have for all intents and purposes dried up. Just a week after presumptive EV maker Bright Automotive called it quits and withdrew a DOE loan application, the program claims another victim. It is Carbon Motors, the Connersville, Ind. startup that wanted to sell fuel-efficient cop cars.

Yesterday, Carbon Motors said it was denied a $310 million DOE loan. Carbon Motors CEO William Santana Li says in a statement on the company’s website:

“We are outraged by the actions of the DOE and it is clear that this was a political decision in a highly-charged, election year environment. Since Solyndra became politicized last fall, the DOE has failed to make any other loans under the ATVM program, has pulled back one loan that it previously committed and, as of this month, the DOE has pushed aside the three remaining viable loans under active consideration.

Each of these applicants has been caught for several years in a costly and extensive DOE due diligence process. Carbon Motors simply appears to be the last victim of this political gamesmanship. In failing to deploy the tax dollars that Congress allocated for the creation of advanced technology manufacturing jobs in the U.S., the DOE ATVM program represents a glaring failure of the Obama Administration to create jobs that are clearly within its power to create.”

Bloomberg says that at least 14 members of Congress wrote to the Energy Department in support of Carbon Motors.

Asked for a comment, the DOE replied to Bloomberg:

“Over the last two and a half years, the department has worked with Carbon Motors to try to negotiate a deal that supported their business while protecting the taxpayers. While we were not able to come to an agreement on terms that would protect the taxpayers, we continue to believe that Carbon Motors is an innovative company with an interesting project and we wish them luck.”

Li thunders back:

“Although the DOE’s new found focus on protecting taxpayer interest may be a good talking point for the media, in this particular case, it fails to ring true. The highly efficient Carbon E7 vehicle would have had dramatic savings for the U.S. taxpayer and every city, county and state struggling with budget deficits. The DOE’s thoughtless decision just cost the U.S. taxpayer over $10 billion dollars of potential savings.”

It sounds like the Carbon cop car is DOA.

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3 of 56 comments
  • AMC_CJ AMC_CJ on Mar 08, 2012

    Was a good idea on paper, but in the application...... A lot of precincts didn't bite. A good friend of mine is a police officer, they came around to their precinct, showed off the car. Supposedly the "garage" (maintenance) seemed to really like it and pushed it, but the cheif did not. Now, being someone who works in the fleet-maintenance business myself I wish I could of seen the mechanical end myself. However, I don't do government work anymore. Regardless, their city is infested crime and their chief's number one concern seems to be "image first", so they've ordered a batch of Tauruses (not she SHO model).

    • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Mar 08, 2012

      From the perspective of an elected person in my tiny village, with a 21 person force, two cars on the road 24/7, there is NO WAY that we'd end up with this car. Price alone would dictate a modified "normal" car from a "big three" maker. Unless they can prove the car lasts four times as long, which for cop cars is tough, you can't sell it in a political environment. Cop cars are disposable. They are driven by folks with no ownership interest, at all times, in all conditions, often in pursuit or in a way you'd never use your car. While the other driver will ALWAYS be at fault (at least that is what the police report will read) cop cars get whacked a LOT....longevity of mechanicals isn't usually the end game.

  • CJinSD CJinSD on Mar 08, 2012

    The accepted construct that real business models need DOE loans to succeed is either false or utterly repellent.

  • Kcflyer The Prado is the GX. So they already did, a long time ago
  • Kcflyer No
  • FreedMike No, but then again, I think folks who truly have no money should be given the opportunity to pay through things like community service. Otherwise, the traffic justice system becomes an excuse to make poor folks into de facto debt slaves.
  • Paul Alexander "Rumors have pointed to it switching to the larger LX’s platform, giving it expanded exterior and interior dimensions. Lexus is expected to offer a hybrid powertrain in the upcoming GX, which could also appear in the Land Cruiser, and a trick four-wheel drive system is all but a given."So it'll be an LX with the GX name? What does this paragraph mean?
  • Jeff S If Ford can do a software update on their EVs to receive AM then this should be something that all EV automakers can do. Doesn't seem that an AM band on a radio is that big of a dollar item when you consider the overall cost of a new vehicle in today's market. I have started to listen to my favorite FM station on AM since I lose FM reception the further away I get away from an urban area. Maybe not as refined a sound as FM but the AM comes in much clearer when I am driving in rural areas.