Wednesday’s debate between Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama not only saw Romney gain some footing in the presidential polls, but it also saw him accusing Obama of rewarding green-energy firms $90 million tax breaks.
Three of those companies included in the tax break in question were auto related, and Romney called out Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive, two plug-in car manufacturers, and Ener1, a battery maker. The latter has filed for bankruptcy protection, while the future — and success — of Tesla and Fisker are a mystery.
Tesla has a federal loan of $465 million to produce its electric sedan, the Model S, and a crossover called Model X. The public company, which is based outside San Francisco, hasn’t reported a quarterly profit yet, but has started to produce vehicles. The company would make early payments on its loan, said CEO Elon Musk.
Meanwhile, Anaheim, Calif.-based Fisker’s plug-in sedan, the Karma, was designed in the U.S. but is produced by a Finland-based contact manufacturer. Of the $528 million federal loans the company received, it spent $169 million of it before being cut off for not meeting loan conditions.
Ener1 filed in January for its bankruptcy protection. The company’s EnerDel subsidiary obtained a $118 million federal loan after it cited limp demand for its lithium-ion batteries it made for electric cars.
Though Obama’s bailout of General Motors and Chrysler has played a significant role on the campaign trail, it never came up during the debate.
The presidential hopefuls will meet again Oct. 16 and Oct. 22 for their final two debates.