Fisker's goal of becoming profitable by 2011 received a shot in the arm today thanks to the U.S. Energy Department's announcement that the upstart automaker will receive a $528.7 million conditional loan. The DOE says the loan, "will create or save about 5,000 jobs for domestic parts suppliers." Highlights of the DOE's announcement include confirmation that the money will go towards "two lines of plug-in hybrids" ($39,000 PHEV, here we come?) and that at least some of those jobs will be "to manufacture a plug-in hybrid in the U.S." Fisker will perform final assembly of its first car, the high-cost Karma, in Finland with partner Valmet.
When we spoke with company head Henrik Fisker about a low-cost model back in January, he told us once DOE funding came through, it wouldn't take long to get the lower-cost plug-in hybrid on the road. The DOE loan specifies that $169.3 million is to be used for engineering integration costs, working primarily with U.S. suppliers to get the Fisker Karma finished, with the remaining funding to be used on Fisker's Project Nina. Project Nina? There's a name we haven't heard before, but the DOE says it will involve "the manufacture of a plug-in hybrid in the U.S." Fisker says the name was chosen as a reference to Christopher Columbus, and "is symbolic of the automobile industry's transition from old world to new."
Earlier this year, the DOE gave conditional loan commitments to Ford ($5.9 billion), Nissan ($1.6 billion) and Tesla Motors ($465 million). The money comes from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) Loan program. All the details are available in the press releases below the fold.