You won’t be able to escape politics at Europe’s largest and most significant annual motor show in Geneva this week.
Britain’s Business secretary Vince Cable is in town to try and persuade General Motors bosses to keep Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant open; Renault, Peugeot-Citroen and Fiat bosses will again be bemoaning how unprofitable building small cars in western Europe is; and poor sales of electric cars even with government subsidies will also come under scrutiny.
Across the pond, politics looks also to be threatening the very future of start-up Californian car maker, Fisker. The US is currently in an election year, and the opposing Republicans are not happy about the Democrat government’s Department of Energy (DoE) loans handed out to help ‘green’ firms get their businesses up and running.
This pressure has intensified following the collapse of one start-up, solar panel maker Solyndra, with huge debts. The Republicans believe that there should be no fiscal support in such a proudly capitalist society. If these firms go bust, argue Republicans, the US tax payer loses out.
Fisker was granted a $529 million loan by the DoE. It has withdrawn $198m of it so far, but hasn’t been able to access the rest since May as the DoE claims Fisker has missed targets that were outlined as part of the loan agreements.