Gore-Backed Car Firm Gets Large U.S. Loan

SEPTEMBER 25, 2009

By JOSH MITCHELL and STEPHEN POWER
WSJ Online
(See Corrections & Amplifications below.)

WASHINGTON — A tiny car company backed by former Vice President Al Gore has just gotten a $529 million U.S. government loan to help build a hybrid sports car in Finland that will sell for about $89,000.

The award this week to California startup Fisker Automotive Inc. follows a $465 million government loan to Tesla Motors Inc., purveyors of a $109,000 British-built electric Roadster. Tesla is a California startup focusing on all-electric vehicles, with a number of celebrity endorsements that is backed by investors that have contributed to Democratic campaigns.

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Agence France-Presse/Getty Images Fisker’s Karma hybrid sports car, above, will initially cost about $89,000.
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The awards to Fisker and Tesla have prompted concern from companies that have had their bids for loans rejected, and criticism from groups that question why vehicles aimed at the wealthiest customers are getting loans subsidized by taxpayers.

“This is not for average Americans,” said Leslie Paige, a spokeswoman for Citizens Against Government Waste, an anti-tax group in Washington. “This is for people to put something in their driveway that is a conversation piece. It’s status symbol thing.”

See Corrections & Amplifications below

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