Infinite Taxpayer Money Needed for Electric Truck Company's Survival

By Paul Chesser

Despite a new report out of the United Kingdom that says the future of the business is bleak without government subsidies, a three-year-old unprofitable electric truck company that received $32 million in U.S. taxpayer stimulus plans to raise more money via an initial public offering.

Kansas City-based Smith Electric Vehicles was launched in January 2009, and despite its lack of track record and the inexperience of its leadership, the Department of Energy awarded the company $10 million in August 2009, and an additional $22 million in March 2010, for an electric truck demonstration program. The company was little more than a spinoff of a failed U.K. operation with the same name, owned by a troubled parent company called The Tanfield Group. In July 2008 – largely because of Smith-UK’s shortcomings – Tanfield’s stock price “collapsed” (scroll down at link) and was harming other holdings of its founder, Roy Stanley.

Smith-UK’s electric truck venture, part of the “green” energy economy euphoria that swept Europe, once received praise from luminaries such as former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who called Tanfield “UK manufacturing innovation at its best.” But soon afterward media discovered that customers for the electric trucks were sparse, and investors wondered whether the company was “more hype than reality.”

A study commissioned by the U.K. Department of Transport confirms the industry was unworthy of the publicity it received. British consulting firm Element Energy examined the total costs of ownership of low emission vans, in light of the government’s plans (implemented in February) to extend its Plug-In Car Grant program to electric trucks. It found that for electric trucks to make economic sense, government would need to provide grants indefinitely in order to compete with diesel-powered vehicles.

Read the rest at National Legal and Policy Center.

23 Responses to Infinite Taxpayer Money Needed for Electric Truck Company's Survival

  1. Rob N. Hood May 2, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    The world belongs to those collecting capital gains.

    They’re the ones who demanded and got massive tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, on the false promise
    that the gains would “trickle down” to everyone else in the form of more jobs and better wages.

    They’re now advocating austerity economics, on the false basis that cuts in public spending – including
    education, infrastructure, and safety nets – will generate more “confidence” and “certainty” among
    lenders and investors, and also lead to more jobs and better wages.

    None of this is sustainable, economically or socially.

    We Liberals should make Obama a deal:
    We help him get re-elected on his promise that he’ll act like a Democrat in his second term.

  2. Rob N. Hood May 2, 2012 at 8:13 am #

    Har Har. Such a sad commentary by a so-called Libertarian. What we have now is the opposite- an oligarchy in which the one wolf is able to vote while the two sheep believe they vote, but not really. It’s really sad you don’t support democracy. There seems to be a lot of you unAmerican “Patriots” out there. Very strange, and very alarming. Only dictatorships, totoalitarianships, and the Nazis didn’t support democracy. Neither did the Romans, nor any oppressive regine throughout history. Plus, it’s VERY bold of you to come out of the fascist closet in that way. I commend you for that bit of honesty.

  3. Rob N. Hood May 1, 2012 at 7:55 am #

    Wow- interesting list, and very incomplete of course. I do not disagree with that list, other than it is only the tip of the iceberg. The important thing is it has become not a Right or Left issue anymore, which is what I am all about trying to impress upon people. So called “free market” Capitalism has taken over both parties and this country and is now busy working on the rest of the world. It only makes sense- that is what that kind of Capitalism is all about and it has become Corporatism. It was inevitable- but that doesn’t make it good or something we should continue to be victims of. It can be changed- needs to be changed. (A less virulent form of Capitalism worked great in the 50’s and 60’s). Your statement about “pure democracy” says it all Dan. Your type of conservative (most of them unfortunately) are really not interested in democracy- some even slip up and say as much, just as you did. That scares the more rational and democracy-loving people like myself. Your type has fought freedom and liberty (democracy) for many many reasons, for centuries, to the point now of some kind of cult-like self-imposed indoctrination. As it has been, I guess as it always will be.

    • Dan McGrath May 1, 2012 at 8:13 am #

      A democracy is two wolves and 1 sheep voting on what’s for dinner.

  4. Rob N. Hood April 30, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    ALEC ‘s “most prominent benefactors,” the Koch brothers, “despise government regulation as much as labor unions; the brothers’ grandfather once called democracy “mobocracy.” And “at the Koch-funded Cato Institute one scholar recently wrote in defense of monopolies.” The rise of corporate power and influence should serve as a warning about what these folks are up to and help to re-define their activities. “Mussolini once said “Fascism should rightly be called corporatism as it is the merger of corporate and government power.” (The Progressive Populist, 4/1/ 2012)

    • Dan McGrath April 30, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

      A pure democracy is a “mobocarcy.” That’s why we have a Constitutional Republic.

      Some examples of corporatism:
      General Motors (or should I say “Government Motors?”)
      UAW
      The ethanol industry
      Solyndra
      Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac
      General Electric / NBC

  5. Rob N. Hood April 27, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    The amount of money used by our military is astronomical not to mention the amount for secret/black ops funding which cannot even be assessed by elected officials due to its “secrecy”. There are incredible amounts wasted, embezzeled, and given to all sorts of nasty characters and groups around the world (bribes etc.) that any (and all) tax dollars spent for these green projects etc. are literally a tip of that tax dollar iceberg. This is the out-of-control spending that will cause this empire to collapse. Ike warned us all those years ago, and there is no way to stop it- which is so depressing and frustrating. We don’t even need probably 80% of what is spent- useless or evil projects, weapons that are overly expensive and not really even needed. THIS is what we all need to be worried about. Global warming may be a nasty thing we (or our kids probably) will have to deal with. But right now we all need to wake up to the current and present danger- and it isn’t “welfare”, Social Security, or Green Technology/policies for God’s sake. We the People need to band together to save this country from itself.

  6. Rob N. Hood April 26, 2012 at 7:09 am #

    Our MIC is destroying this country just as Russia’s destroyed theirs. But it will be even a bigger shock for us because our standard of living is so much higher comparatively, to begin with.

  7. Rob N. Hood April 24, 2012 at 8:02 am #

    Here’s a guy who knows the score and is brave enough to speak it:

    “Gone are the days when the Republican Party used to put forward big, bold, visionary stuff,” Huntsman said during the February interview with MSNBC that got him disinvited from the RNC fundraiser. “I think we’re going to have problems politically until we get some sort of third-party movement or some alternative voice out there that can put forward new ideas.”

  8. Rob N. Hood April 24, 2012 at 7:19 am #

    Again with your hyperbole and histrionics. Look- I cannot make you see that which you for whatever reason cannot. I don’t even profess to be all that smart, but smart enough to be able to figure some stuff out, observe things as objectively as possible (difficult), and connect dots logically and rationally. So in the interests of my usual earnestness I will say this much more about your question (by asking such a question, answers mine- that you will not see): Where anyone is being oppressed by more powerful forces throughout history, and now, there have also been those that choose for a variety of reasons to support their oppressor/s. This can occur in many different ways and take on many different forms. It occurred mostly for self-preservation reasons in the past, and that is why more sophistocated propaganda/brainwashing has been needed in more modern times. Self-preservation is less of a need to create such a system of denial as to align oneself with one’s oppressor. Today, I believe it has boiled down to the hard core of belief systems (brain wiring) of a roughly third of any given population, and the elite’s need to control that level of “water-carriers” to continue the status quo, which of course benefits them the most. And normal human greed has increased their share, and without a real revolution of some kind this will continue until such a revolution of some kind occurs. This is not rocket science- there are countless examples in history of this very thing occurring around the world, over and over again.

  9. Rob N. Hood April 23, 2012 at 7:21 am #

    You aren’t that obtuse… I don’t think anyway. If I patronize you/me to list some you will just become angry and attempt to dispute the obvious, as you usually do. Rather, let’s break this down once more to as basic a thing as I believe possible. There are two sides here, more or less, and each one is represented by you and me, thus also representing the country and really, as alluded to above, the entire human population (as witnessed per history). Our world views (of reality) diametrically opposed, and again this has been the case forever IMHO, disregarding of course the myriad and infinit subtle differences based upon race, religion, cutlure, etc. So- you, and me, have by this definition a 50 percent chance of being correct, and also the same chance for being incorrect. That, in and of itself, should give one pause. But as humble as we all like to think of ourselves, we need some benchmark for worldview, thus we cling to our own, sometimes to the detriment of body and soul even. One of the main reasons I point this out is because the Right’s description of reality impariment on the Left is EXACTLY the same as how Liberals view the Right. We are all simply amazed at the incredible ignorance of the other. But- we both cannot be right. One group has to be wrong, and thus so reality-impaired as to be practically retarded. That is what I find fascinating in all this. And also why I often detail my the steps of my logic toward my conclusions. Hoping you will do the same, and yet for the most part you, nor any Righty here, does not. And even though I spell it out, thus enabling you, or anyone, to challenge it in detail logically and rationally, this doesn’t occur. Or if it is attempted, and I point out the illogic of the effort, the response is either silence or ad hominen. Maturity should at least occasionally demand soemthing else, as I have done sometimes.

    • NEILIO April 23, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

      So, you can’t identify to whom you are referring above? I asked that question in all earnestness, because I honestly don’t know who you are talking about. And I still don’t. Sounds like you got the whole world figured out. Why ain’t you runnin’ it then?

  10. NEILIO April 22, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

    Can you identify who these historical counterparts are that you speak of? I’m serious, I have no idea of what your point is or what you are talking about.

  11. Rob N. Hood April 22, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

    It just scares the true rationals like myself that there are adults out and about without the ability to discern fact from fiction, right from wrong, logic from illogic, and more than would be expected by the average middle-schooler. But the “wing-nut” has always existed, in all cultures, and unfortunately probably always will. You win many battles, out of sheer ferocity, but lose every war, and have done so thoughout human history. The species has Progressed, that is, become more “liberal”, despite the throwbacks in its midst. All of written history details this- you don’t have to just disbelieve me. Pick up, and read, some history books. Of course, when you see I’m right, you can always blame it on the “Liberal” writers for perpetuating some kind of massive hoax. For all of the right-wing backlash, hystrionics, and ignorance progress has not, cannot, be stopped. It can be slowed down, that’s for sure, cuz you guys are tenacious buggers, but you will be devolved into the dustbin of history, just as your historical counterparts have been.

  12. Rob N. Hood April 22, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    I didn’t say you posted propaganda (although that may true), but you sure drink it down, as I said. So for your understanding of simple language… well we’ve been there before haven’t we? Glad also to see you aren’t still being all anal and having to define everything, regardless of point or purpose. But you know best.

  13. Rob N. Hood April 21, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    You love propaganda, drink it down like a man drinks a bottle of water after going without for days. Re: the IPO, nobody will be putting guns to anyone’s heads. Free country, free market…so you’re anger (or whatever it is) about this seems a bit bizarre to say the leasst. If we could only focus the wing-nut energy on real problems and issues this planet would be awesome. But next time around I’m picking a more exclusive left-wing planet. I truly believe the Right should have their own planet to flop around on and despoil at their pleasure. Then they’d evolve towards the Left quicker… maybe.

    • NEILIO April 21, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

      Wow, that literally makes no sense at all.

      • Rob N. Hood April 22, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

        What makes no sense? Spell it out. Or don’t bother replying. Anyone forcing anyone to buy stock? Nope. Re: the choice of planet thing- it makes as much, or more, sense as anything that comes from the Right.

    • NEILIO April 21, 2012 at 10:27 pm #

      You know, that begs the question. What planet are you originally from?

    • NEILIO April 22, 2012 at 10:15 am #

      If what I posted is propaganda, why don’t you go find some evidence of it? It is, after all, why I post a link to sources whenever possible so that you have an opportunity to go to the source and read the entire piece. Unlike yourself. When you post something from another source, you tend to omit that source. And usually if I feel so inclined to do a search for what you post it usually comes from sources like buzzflash, or the smirking chimp. And sometimes you even post comments made on those other blog posts!?!? To say that what you post is not propaganda is to say the sky is not blue, and the Sun revolves around Jupiter. I might post propaganda, if I am then that is not my intention, and I do post links so you can go there and determine that for yourself. But, if I drink propaganda like water then you have daily injections directly into your brain.

      “BuzzFlash offers a model of progressive economic, cultural, journalistic and activist change found nowhere else on the net. Yes, there are plenty of tremendous progressive websites, but we finance — and in the recession, precariously — our journalism through goods that change the corporate stranglehold over our economy and we celebrate progressive culture.”

      “The Smirking Chimp is a web site with 25,000-plus registered members, founded after the 2000 election as a gathering place for liberals, progressives and leftists who felt the newly selected president reminded them most of, well, a smirking chimp.”

  14. Rob N. Hood April 21, 2012 at 7:49 am #

    IPO is now synonymous with “taxpayer”? Appears “we” do need better education, if that’s the case. And as “we” all know so obviously- cutting money out of anything (and everything) makes it sooo much better and effective, especially that pesky public education thingy. Only those wealthy enough should be able to be educated appropriately. Sure it soounds a little like the middle-ages, but what the heck right?

    • NEILIO April 21, 2012 at 9:19 am #

      “The company has reported net losses of $17.5 million, $30.3 million and $52.5 million in 2009, 2010, and 2011. Besides having to pay for the Tanfield failure, Smith-U.S. needs to continue its program of paying customers to take its electric trucks.”

      Oh yeah! Hey do you want to be in the front of the line to buy those stocks?

      “We believe that the availability of government subsidies and incentives currently is an important factor considered by our customers when purchasing our vehicles,” the filing said, “and that our growth depends in part on the availability and amounts of these subsidies and incentives.”

      So…… they basically plan to pay their investors with funds allocated from the govt. So……. in this case it does appear that IPO does mean taxpayer funding.

      And a question for you. Does spending more money on education improve said education, or increase student academic performance, or decrease the drop out rate? The answer is no. Although it does help the assistant to the assistant of the assistant to the superintendant’s assistant stay employed.

      http://blog.heritage.org/2010/02/01/budget-2011-education-spending-skyrockets/
      “Since 1985, inflation-adjusted federal spending on K-12 education has increased 138 percent. Yet, indicators of educational improvement such as increases in academic achievement and graduation rates have remained flat.

      Despite the evidence that more spending is not the answer to increasing academic achievement, Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development Carmel Martin noted during the briefing that discretionary funding for the Department of Education will increase 10 percent under the president’s proposed budget, raising total discretionary spending to $50.7 billion.”

  15. NEILIO April 20, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

    Geez, and I thought the EV’s were going to be the future! Embrace new technology and all that rot, eh? Let’s just throw money at it, that will work! It works so well for the public schools right?

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