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Fisker Automotive raises $115.3 million

The private equity funds allow the start-up Irvine firm to tap $528.7 million in federal loans for development of its plug-in hybrid Karma.

January 19, 2010|By Jerry Hirsch
  • Henrik Fisker, chief executive of Fisker Automotive, shows off the final production version of the Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Henrik Fisker, chief executive of Fisker Automotive, shows off the final… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

Fisker Automotive Inc., the Irvine developer of electric cars, said it had raised an additional $115.3 million in private equity funding to develop plug-in hybrid cars.

The money from three firms allows Fisker, founded by Danish design guru Henrik Fisker, to satisfy a U.S. Department of Energy condition to gain access to $528.7 million in federal loans. The agency's money is part of a $25-billion fund approved by Congress in 2007 to spur automakers to build electric and fuel-efficient vehicles.

The funds will help Fisker develop its Karma, the company's first plug-in hybrid.

The company said it was glad it could obtain the private funding "at a time when capital is scarce, the auto industry is struggling and the global economy is just beginning to rebound."

Fisker said development of the $87,900 Karma would pave the way for a lower-cost plug-in hybrid that the company is calling Project Nina.

Project Nina is expected to be built in Wilmington, Del., at a former General Motors assembly plant starting in 2012.

"Raising $115 million in these times speaks volumes about the value of our business model and the vast potential of plug-in hybrids," said Fisker, who is the company's chief executive and known for designing the BMW Z8 as well as Aston Martin's DB9 and V8 Vantage.

The Karma will be assembled in Finland, using mostly U.S. parts, and production will start late next year, with a target of 15,000 vehicles annually.

Project Nina will be a "family oriented" plug-in hybrid sedan that will cost $47,400 (less a $7,500 federal tax credit). It has a production target of 100,000 vehicles a year.

Fisker, a start-up company, is about to face increased competition from mainstream automakers. Toyota Motor Corp. is testing a plug-in version of its Prius hybrid. Ford Motor Co. announced that it would build an electric version of its new-generation Focus.

Nissan Motor Co. plans to start selling its Leaf electric car later this year for about $30,000 and General Motors Co. plans the first sales of its $40,000 Volt electric vehicle this fall.

jerry.hirsch@latimes.com

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