Fisker Loses Access to DOE Loan, Lays Off Delaware Factory Employees
February 7, 2012 11:31 AM
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A total of 26 employees were laid off
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) pulled the plug on a federal loan it provided to
, forcing the automaker to stop work on a Delaware factory.
California-based Fisker Automotive, known for the $102,000 Karma plug-in and the Nina midsize sedan, received a total of $529 million in loans from DOE in April 2010. The loans were part of a program to progress development of high-tech vehicles, where Fisker received $169 million for Karma engineering and $359 million for Nina production. The loans were also meant to revamp a closed General Motors plant in Wilmington, Delaware for Fisker auto production. So far, Fisker has drawn down $193 million from its loans.
Fisker has been behind schedule on selling its first auto here in the U.S., and in May 2011, DOE blocked the loans previously provided to the automaker due to "unmet milestones." According to Damien LaVera, DOE only allows Fisker to use the loan if the auto company upholds its end of the deal and shows results. However, Fisker has been a little behind.
The lack of access to loans has affected work on the Delaware factory. In fact, work on the auto factory has now been halted, and 26 people were laid off.
"It's been frustrating that Fisker and the Department of Energy weren't able to come to terms on the revisions to the loan in time to avoid this," said Brian Selander, a spokesman for Delaware Governor Jack Markell. "I'd say the project is on hold while the two sides try to get things sorted out."
DOE seems to be a bit more cautious of who it provides its financial offerings to after the series of alternative energy failures through 2011 and 2012. In September 2011, Silicon Valley-based
solar panel company Solyndra filed for bankruptcy
after receiving a $535 million loan from DOE in 2009. Government officials reportedly warned the administration about Solyndra's viability back at that time, but these warnings were set aside to meet political deadlines.
In November 2011,
, a company that creates flywheels to store power and increase grid efficiency by preventing blackouts, filed for bankruptcy after receiving a $43 million loan guarantee from DOE in August 2010.
Just last month, auto electric
battery maker Ener1
, whose EnerDel subsidiary received a $118.5 million DOE grant in August 2009, filed for bankruptcy.
Electric vehicles haven't had a great year, either. Last year, General Motors' Chevrolet Volt was heavily criticized after three Volts sparked or caught fire in a
series of side-impact crash tests
conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Fisker had some battery issues of its own as well back in December 2011, where
over 200 Karma's were recalled
Also, somewhat similar to Fisker's factory situation, an Indiana Think City EV plant has been
sitting stagnant after failing to produce the Think City EVs
, which are tiny two-seater EVs manufactured by Think Global.
Fisker CEO Henrik Fisker said the company sent 225 Karmas to dealers in December, with another 1,200 on the way.
The Wall Street Journal
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That's a real shame
2/7/2012 1:01:00 PM
The Karma is the first ~$100k car that I could actually see myself buying as it's the type of technology that truly moves the industry forward (unlike 0.1s in 0-60 times or badge snobbery).
Fisker is one of the green companies with the most promise. The Karma won Automobile Magazine's Design of the Year award, and Top Gear Magazine's Luxury Car of the Year (along with James May's overal COTY). They really have some serious talent.
Moreover, it's the only green car that isn't overpriced. It competes well with Maseratis and Astons (not straight line performance, but handling and overall experience) that cost much more. The critism over it's EPA gas-only rating of 20MPG was just stupid given that this car is meant to be an EV 80% of the time and has a bunch of 15MPG cars in its class.
I hope they can stay alive. I know that they've continued to raise private capital after the gov't loan.
“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith
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