Green Vehicles Inc. Is No More; Governments (i.e., Taxpayers) Are Losers; Media Will Likely Be Mum

Green Vehicles is no more. The world will somehow have to get by without the lovely vehicle pictured after the jump populating our streets and highways.

Given that its owner put an "I've giving it up" blog post last Tuesday, and even though Drudge just caught it a few hours ago, it's pretty safe to assume that the Green Vehicles debacle won't be a national establishment press story.

It is, however, a fairly hot story in Salinas, California, a city of about 150,000 fifty or so miles south of San Jose.

Salinas is also the hometown of Nobel Prize in Literature laureate John Steinbeck, whose best-known work is probably The Grapes of Wrath. Wrath is what city officials and residents should be feeling, given the money that has gone down the drain, as reported by KSBW News:

GreenVehiclesTriac0711

Electric Car Maker Folds, Salinas Loses $500,000

A Salinas car manufacturing company that was expected to build environmentally friendly electric cars and create new jobs folded before almost any vehicles could run off the assembly line.

The city of Salinas had invested more than half a million dollars in Green Vehicles, an electric car start-up company.

All of that money is now gone, according to Green Vehicles President and Co-Founder Mike Ryan.

The start-up company set up shop in Salinas in the summer of 2009, after the city gave Ryan a $300,000 community development grant.

When the company still ran into financial trouble last year, the city of Salinas handed Ryan an additional $240,000. Green Vehicles also received $187,000 from the California Energy Commission.

Salinas Mayor Dennis Donohue said he was "surprised and disappointed" by the news. City officials were equally irked that Ryan notified them through an email that his company had crashed and burned.

Salinas Economic Development Director Jeff Weir said Green Vehicles flopped because of a lack of investors.

Donohue said he will work with the state to try to get at least $240,000 back from the now-defunct company.

The start-up company promised city leaders that it would create 70 new jobs and pay $700,000 in taxes a year to Salinas.

Green Vehicles was supposed to be up and running by March 2010 inside their 80,000-square-foot space at Firestone Business Park off of Abbot Street.

Seriously:

  • Including the California money, the company, uh, burned through over $700,000 of taxpayer money.
  • If anyone can get their green business funded in Salinas without having investors first(!), where is the economic development grant application? I promise, I really do, to build something green. I hear the weather's pretty nice too.
  • Did Salinas attach any conditions to the money it released, like, oh, I don't know, occasional audits of the books, or even plant visits a year after the "up and running" date to see if anything was, like, really happening?
  • Didn't Salinas at least get a security interest in tooling, a building, a prototype, or something? Maybe even a personal guarantee? Probably answer: Of course not.

The message here is that Ryan, even if you give him a huge benefit of the doubt for being naive (which I don't until proven otherwise, which will probably never happen), hadn't shown himself worthy of funding to someone who would have his or her own skin in the game. Of course, that person probably would have wanted a majority stake in the enterprise. Why do that when you can get a government to literally hand you taxpayer money because you have a politically correct (potential) product? Of course, a potential investor would have forced Ryan to think through the pitfalls and obstacles he would have to overcome -- not the least of which was and still would be the limited market for a "commuter" vehicle with a range of about 100 miles.

There are too many lessons here to which the national press would prefer readers never be exposed, which is why you can pretty much count on the fact that no one outside of the center-right blogosphere will hear about the Green Vehicles debacle.

Oh, and not that this is any kind of a surprise, but Salinas Mayor Dennis Donohue is a Democrat.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.