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One owner, low miles, will finance: Sellers try to unload Fiskers

April 26, 2013|By Ronald D. White
  • A Fisker Karma hybrid car is displayed at the U.S. automaker's booth at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show in Geneva. With the company's woes continuing, owners are trying to sell their cars.
A Fisker Karma hybrid car is displayed at the U.S. automaker's booth… (Fabrice Coffrini / AFP )

In a week in which beleaguered Fisker Automotive failed to make a $10-million loan payment, owners are looking to unload their cars. In some cases, they are seeing some very low offers.

There were 48 listings for the high-end, hybrid electric Fisker Karma Eco-Chic and Eco-Sport cars on the Yahoo! auto sales pages.

That might not seem like a lot, but the new- and used-car research company Edmunds said there were only 947 new registrations of Fisker automobiles between January 2012 and February of this year.

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The used cars ranged in price from a low of $59,700 for a 2012 EcoChic with less than 17,000 miles on it in Glencoe, Ill., to a 2012 Eco-Sport with just 225 miles on it that was being offered for $122,500 in Boca Raton. Fla.

EBay has listings for 33 of the Fisker cars. As of Friday morning, bidders were focused only on the lowest-priced Fiskers, and they were making offers that were far short of eBay's "buy it now" prices.

For a 2012 Eco-Sport with 10,200 miles on it, for example, the seller was asking for $65,000. The highest bid was for $52,600.

These are cars that sold for more than $100,000 when originally purchased.

Fisker Automotive hasn't sold a new car in nearly a year. On Wednesday, its executives were grilled on Capitol Hill on whether the company had used political influence to finance a fatally flawed business plan.

Fisker had been scheduled to start to pay down about $192 million it had borrowed under the Energy Department's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program. It also laid off most of its workers this month.

The Energy Department said that on April 11, it "recouped the company's approximately $21-million reserve account -- funds that came from the company's sales and investors, not our loan -- and will apply those funds to the loan."

Car value experts said prices for used Fiskers could go one of two ways. Some might be viewed as unique collectors' items, said Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst for Kelley Blue Book.

"If you have one with extremely low miles on it, it could command a hefty premium," Gutierrez said, "but if it is one with 30,000 to 50,000 miles or more on it, buyers will be worried about what happens if something goes wrong with the car."

The battery manufacturer of Fisker's Karma went bankrupt, for example.

"I'd imagine the discounts for the remaining Fiskers will start to rise," said Edmunds financial analyst Jeremy Acevedo.

"With Fisker's fate still up in the air, prospective customers have to balance discounted prices with the potential of voided warranties and difficulty in finding parts and services in the future," Acevedo added.

Tony Knight of Sitrick & Company, representing Fisker, said that the company had issued no statement on how it would handle the service needs of current Fisker owners.

One dealer is apparently having some success in selling Karmas.

An employee of Fisker Silicon Valley in Palo Alto said the dealership had sold three in the last two weeks. The employee, who asked not to be named, wouldn't disclose the selling prices.

Currently, the dealership has a listing for a 2012 Fisker with only 5,000 miles on it. The dealer is asking for $69,991.

The employee said the owner had recently traded it in for a 2012 BMW 750 sedan.

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