Recession-strapped Americans may be reining in the spending on luxury items — but not Washington Democrats. This week, Energy Secretary Steven Chu awarded a $529 million low-interest loan to California luxury automaker Fisker Automotive so that it can build two of its luxury flagships: the $88,000 plug-in hybrid Karma and the $45,000 electric Nina sedan.
Fisker is owned by ex–Aston Martin and ex-BMW designer Henrik Fisker — boutique automaker to the rich and famous. “Fisker (aims) to make beautiful, high-performance electric cars,” writes the Wall Street Journal. “Cars for residents of Bel Air or Newport Beach, Calif., who once parked a McLaren or a Ferrari or a Maserati next to the Prius in their driveways. Let soccer moms buy Civic Hybrids. Fisker would make chariots for the gentry — cars once believed impossible: red-hot and green.”
Such a company hardly seems a candidate for government welfare, but by building cars with fashionable battery-powered drivelines, Fisker qualifies — along with fellow California luxury-carmaker Tesla — for a loan under Congress’ $25 billion “green” automotive-retooling program.
It also helps to have friends in high places, and California’s Sen. Dianne Feinstein and House Speaker Pelosi see Fisker and Tesla as bridges to a new automotive future made in California, not Detroit. Oh, yes, and one of Fisker’s original backers is Al Gore’s venture-capital firm, Kleiner Perkins.
Remember Fisker the next time Washington pols complain of taxpayers bailing out jet-setting Wall Street corporate fat cats.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This item has been amended since its initial posting.