Planet Gore

ThoseOther Auto-Loan Candidates

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed to release some of the Department of Energy’s $25 billion in designated green-retooling funds as loans to help the cash-hungry Detroit Three avoid bankruptcy. But she and her Congressional delegation were careful to hold back $10 billion or so for other carmakers — like their green California friends who, West Coast pols insist, will make Silicon Valley the new Motor City.

Who are these destitute entrepreneurs in desperate need of taxpayer dollars?

Tesla Motors, an electric car maker, is owned by PayPal co-founder Elon Musk who founded the company with his share of PayPal’s $1.5 billion sale. His backers include multi-millionaires Jeff Skoll, founder of eBay, Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and institutional investors such as VantagePoint Venture Partners. Tesla has already applied for a $400 million DOE loan to make its $60,000 battery-powered sedan.

Fisker Automotive, a maker of hybrid plug-ins, is owned by ex-Aston Martin designer Henrik Fisker. Fisker, according to an article in WSJ Magazine, wears “dark, expensive-looking suits and speaks in hushed, accented tones. If Tesla cultivates Hollywood royalty, Fisker plays to real royalty. At the Monaco Luxury Car Show in 2006, ‘Prince Albert of Monaco told me, “If you build a green luxury car, I will support it,” ’ Fisker says.” Fisker’s angels include Palo Alto Investors and — you know He would be involved — Al Gore’s venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins.

“Their respective companies, Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive, aim to make beautiful, high-performance electric cars,” continues the WSJ profile. “Cars for people like themselves — 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, the battery-powered Mini E or — in a year or two — a plug-in like the Chevy Volt. Musk and Fisker would make chariots for the gentry — cars once believed impossible: red-hot and green.”

Quick, give these poor men some taxpayer loans before those well-to-do Detroiters fly off with it in their corporate jets.


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