Last night in the first U.S. Presidential debate of the campaign season, Romney tried to tarnish Obama’s green technology strategy with the Solyndra taint. He was criticizing the investments in green energy, while calling for more investments in fossil fuel energy, then named off a set of companies he called Losers. At the head of this list was Solyndra.
The Republicans have taken to tying various countries with Solyndra as if they’re trying to use that one corporate failure to taint all the other green technology green energy companies the same way.
I wrote up a news article going over the success of three of the companies he named: Ener1, Fisker, Tesla — Romney tries to Solyndraize Tesla Motors, calling it a ‘loser’
Ener1: A battery maker that received stimulus money to build battery plants in Indiana, and had Think as their primary customer. In mid-2011 Think went into bankruptcy. Ener1 was a major shareholder in Think. Obviously that threw kink into Ener1′s finances, and that company went into a planned bankruptcy in January. Both companies have since reemereged from bankruptcy. Is Ener1 a failure? It is still selling products to customers …
Fisker: They’ve been having a rough year with quality problems and their Dept of Energy loans getting frozen because they missed business development targets. But the company has delivered well over 1000 cars to paying customers. And the company has been raising private funding to replace the funding frozen by the Dept of Energy. That means the company should be able to reboot the plans to go into manufacturing of the cars meant to follow the Karma. Failure? Jury is still out, but they’re heading in a positive direction.
Tesla: I think they’re firing on all cylinders, and meeting all kinds of ambitious business development goals. They got the Model S into production pretty much on time. They got the second generation Toyota RAV4 EV into production on time. They’ve bought a large factory, and got it into production, and have plenty of room to expand manufacturing projects over time. The CEO claimed yesterday that they’ll be cash flow positive by December 2012. (see Elon Musk clarifies financing round, says Tesla to be cash flow positive by December 2012) In sort.. Failure? Uh, no. Quite the opposite.
However one piece of feedback I’ve received so far is that a lot depends on how you define failure.
None of these companies are profitable, and therefore are not self standing companies but are dependent on investors. Hence each have failed to become a stable company. I counter that each are start-up companies, and that this is typical pattern for a startup company to spend its first years raising capital to stay in business long enough to get enough sales to become stable.