Vice-Presidential Debate: Tesla Escapes, Fisker Only Nodded To

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Representative Paul Ryan

Representative Paul Ryan

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There's probably relief in Palo Alto this morning, as Tesla Motors executives quietly give thanks that their company was not named in last night's vice-presidential debate.

The startup electric-car company in Silicon Valley was explicitly cited in last week's presidential debate by candidate Mitt Romney, who deemed Tesla a 'loser'.

Romney's criticism of Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] last week--along with Fisker Automotive, cell maker Ener1, and solar panel maker Solyndra--came as he attacked the Obama Administration's investments in green energy.

Last night, vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan only alluded in passing to the those Administration programs--and he only indicted one company, indirectly at that.

Ryan said, according to the complete debate transcript:

Was it a good idea to spend taxpayer dollars on electric cars in Finland or on windmills in China?

The phrase "electric cars in Finland" refers to Fisker Automotive's use of subcontactor Valmet, located in Finland, to assemble its Karma range-extended electric luxury sedan.

After Ryan's question, incumbent vice-president Biden interjected, but Ryan continued:

Was it a good idea to borrow all this money from countries like China ... and spend it on all these various different interest groups?

Biden responded:

Let me tell you it was a good idea. It was a good idea -- Moody’s and others said that this was exactly what we needed that stopped us from going off the cliff. It set the conditions to be able to grow again.

We have -- in fact, 4 percent of those green jobs didn’t go under -- or went -- went -- went under -- didn’t work. It’s a better batting average than investment bankers have. They have about a 40 percent -- (inaudible) -- loss.

But when Ryan continued by questioning an Administration projection of 5 million green jobs, moderator Martha Raddatz firmly moved the topic to Medicare and entitlements.

And that was the end of it.

Fisker has said that of the Department of Energy loans it received before further disbursements were suspended, none of the money went toward the Finland facility.

The company has purchased a defunct GM plant in Wilmington, Delaware, which it intended to use to manufacture its next car, the Atlantic mid-size sedan.

Whether that will happen, and when, remains unclear.


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