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President Obama speaks with A123 CEO David Vieau to his... President Obama speaks with A123 CEO David Vieau to his right. (Credit: AP).
Electric car battery maker A123 filed for bankruptcy today, just a few hours after warning it was about to default on its loans, and will be taken over by auto supplier Johnson Controls.

As a recipient of $249 million in grants from the Obama administration, the company's bankruptcy will no doubt become another embarrassment heading into the November elections. Republicans have already battered the Obama administration for investing $535 million in solar panel maker Solyndra, only to see the company fail just two years after receiving the loan. The company shut its doors and fired all its workers in August 2011. But it is also litigating against Chinese solar panel makers, charging that China illegally "dumped" solar panels into the U.S. at a loss to drive makers like Solyndra out of business.

The U.S. has only paid out $132 million of the A123 grant, the Department of Energy said.

A123 won't suffer the same fate: It has already inked a deal to be purchased by Johnson Controls, and so it should stay open and functioning. And it will continue working on making a battery for General Motor's upcoming electric car, the Chevy Spark. But the bankruptcy could become another hammering point for Republicans who are trying to show President Obama's investment plans have not worked.

The battery maker was supposed to be a shining example of what could happen In April 2010, Obama welcomed the A123 CEO, David Vieau, to the Rose Garden to talk about how clean energy investments would help grow the economy. A123 had promised it would hire 3,000 workers in Michigan by the end of 2012, and open three new plants.

But the company has struggled in the past year after a costly recall put it back in the spotlight. The battery maker was forced to recall batteries used in the Fisker Karma electric car at a cost of $51.6 million, and that forced the company to halt production at its Michigan plant.

Clean energy investments were supposed to be Obama's version of the New Deal, pushing government money into industries that could move the economy forward. But consumer acceptance of electric cars has been slower than expected, resulting in excess supply of expensive battery packs.

Consumer demand is slowly ramping up, but it's not meeting the targets set by Obama's administration.

According to the MIT's Technology Review, the projections for demand far outweigh reality. By 2012, battery makers could have produced 3,900 megawatt hours worth of battery power. But there was demand for just 390 megawatt hours.

"It's still early days for electric vehicles, but the idle factories point to the difficulty of starting a new high-tech industry from scratch," the magazine wrote.

In a blog posting published Tuesday afternoon, the Department of Energy defended its investments in electric battery makers. The policy has had bipartisan support, and investments in battery makers began under the Bush administration.

"Four years ago, virtually all advanced vehicle batteries were built overseas, and it looked like the United States might miss out on this enormously important, rapidly expanding market," said Dan Leistikow, head of public affairs for the DOE, in the blog posting. Thanks to investments in battery makers, the cost of large batteries has gone down from $33,000 to around $17,000, he said.

"Most importantly, more and more of those cars and their components will be built right here in America – continuing to support American workers and new technologies that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil," he said.


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  • 391 Comments
      • 2 Years Ago
      How can this be Obama's fault? Did he go to this company every day and help them plan how to spend their money? Did he help them devise their production plans? Is it his fault that the American public doesn't care about their environment and the planet enough to invest in energy saving cars and other devices? Of course it's not his fault!!! This is the American public thumbing their nose again at global warming and ways to stop it. Shame on you who blame government for your faults!!
      • 2 Years Ago
      Remember that MITT Romney practices religion He is not God
      giftsbasketsetc
      • 2 Years Ago
      More of Obama's waste of tax payer's money. Bye Bye Obama! ROMNEY/RYAN 2012!!!!
      • 2 Years Ago
      This administration is clueless. Government can not dictate demand no matter how much money you throw at it. Just get out of the way and let market set demand.
      • 2 Years Ago
      i believe obama has the midas touch-in reverse-everything he touches turns to 24k crap
      dave1marine
      • 2 Years Ago
      Yet another FAIL in Barrys "Green Jobs" fiasco. I, like the VAST MAJORITY of Americans, DO NOT WANT ELECTRIC CARS! At least not at this point in the technology. The Administration is pissing BILLIONS of taxpayer monies away on "pet" corporations that so far have failed miserably. When it comes time to admit their failure, it's ALWAYS (just like everything else) someone elses fault. Bush, Romney, Fox News, racism, and a myriad of OTHER reasons. NEVER "The Buck Stops Here". the American people can't afford it, and they're damn well SICK OF IT..
      David
      • 2 Years Ago
      Doesn't surprise me one bit. Like Mitt Romney says, Obama ONLY picks losers. If You want to do well in the stock market and make money, find out whether Obama like its or not, If he doesn't like it, buy MANY shares, if he does like it let him buy it with his own money, not our's. How is it possible, unless i is a really big scam, possible for half of all busniesses that dinated to your election and that rec'd a total of BILLIONs of dollars, that SO many would go out of business in less the four years? I swear, it seems as though EVERYTHING OBama has done or been involved with in the last 4-5 years has been one BIG scam on the american people. In Romney campaign, ALL that he has to say for lowering the deficit is that he is gettiing rid of Obama. Obama has spent/wasted more money then ALL other Presidents combined in their first term. Thats hard to even say, much less what it means when you really think abot it.
      kentblackdog
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sometimes, when you pick winners and losers-----sometimes you have to admit, you backed a loser------Obam is not going to do that All we are going to see from Obama, is more excuses
      fecoyle
      • 2 Years Ago
      ONLY paid out 132 million! What kind of liberal wacky thinking is that? Thats American Tax Payer money being treated like monopoly money. We will be financially ruined long before obamas second term gets to the half way point at this rate. He has to go 11-06 to save America
      timjofred
      • 2 Years Ago
      If this was the Romney administration he would have just had the batteries and cars built in China without trying to create American jobs! Such will be the legacy of Romney if he is elected. He likes the Walmart model. He forgets the part where Henry Ford said "Pay American workers a decent wage so that they can afford to purchase the products we make."
      • 2 Years Ago
      It would be interesting to know how much of the taxpayer money went to donations to any one Polictical Party. What is your guess. I think I have grasped the concept. You start enough fires, and there is not enough water, manpower, or attention to any one of them. Catch my drift?
      Musicby Les Mack
      • 2 Years Ago
      obama is an embarrassment to the White House!!!!!
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