• Sep 22nd 2009 at 3:18PM
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Fisker Karma - Click above for high-res image gallery

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.

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[Source: Fisker, DOE]


US Energy Secretary Chu Announces $528 Million Loan for Advanced Vehicle Technology for Fisker Automotive
Investment will save or create at least 5,000 jobs

Washington, DC – Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced a $528.7 million conditional loan for Fisker Automotive for the development of two lines of plug-in hybrids that will save hundreds of millions gallons of gasoline and offset millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2016. The project will result in approximately 5,000 jobs created or saved for domestic parts suppliers and thousands more to manufacture a plug-in hybrid in the U.S.

"This investment will create thousands of new American jobs and is another critical step in making sure we are positioned to compete for the clean energy jobs of the future," said Secretary Chu. "Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles could revolutionize personal transportation and cut our dependence on foreign oil, not to mention give us cleaner air and less carbon pollution."

This is the fourth conditional loan commitment the Department of Energy has entered into under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) Loan program. The Department plans to make additional loans under this program over the coming months to large and small auto manufacturers and parts suppliers up and down the production supply chain.

In the first stage of the program, Fisker Automotive will use a $169.3 million ATVM loan for engineering integration costs as it works with primarily U.S. suppliers to complete the company's first vehicle, the Fisker Karma. Engineers will also design tools and equipment and develop manufacturing processes. This work will be conducted at Fisker's Pontiac, Michigan office with support from its headquarters in Irvine, California. While the final assembly of the Karma will be done overseas, more than 65 percent (based on cost) of the parts required for Karma will come from U.S. suppliers. The four-door Karma is scheduled to appear in showrooms in summer 2010.

The second stage includes a $359.36 million ATVM loan for Fisker's Project Nina, involving the manufacture of a plug-in hybrid in the U.S. Fisker estimates that up to 75,000-100,000 of these highly efficient vehicles will roll off assembly lines in the U.S. every year beginning in late 2012. The combined projects are anticipated to create thousands of jobs in the U.S. and provide substantial support for domestic parts suppliers saving or creating approximately 5,000 jobs.

Fisker automobiles are driven by electric motors powered by a lithium-ion battery, or, when that is depleted, a generator driven by an efficient gasoline engine. The electric-only range will be more than most people drive in a day. The battery can be charged at home overnight. Using gas and electric power, Fisker plug-in hybrids will have a cruising range of about 300 miles. The projected annual sales of these vehicles would contribute significantly to the Administration's goal of having one million plug-in hybrids on the road by 2015

  • Funds awarded to develop affordable plug-in hybrids made in USA
  • At least 5,000 direct and indirect US jobs to be created or saved
  • An estimated 821 million gallons of gasoline will be saved and 8 million tons of CO2 offset from sales of Fisker plug-in hybrids through 2016

IRVINE, CA – Sept. 22, 2009: Fisker Automotive and the US Department of Energy have agreed to terms for a loan of more than half a billion dollars to create affordable, fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid electric cars.

A majority of the low-interest funds will go toward Project NINA, which will see the design, engineering and assembly of Fisker Automotive(www.fiskerautomotive.com)'s next-generation plug-in hybrids, starting at about $39,900 after tax credits. The remainder will help finalize development of the Fisker Karma, the technology leading plug-in hybrid that will enable the company to develop such lower cost models.

Fisker Automotive expects to create or save at least 5,000 US jobs among auto suppliers and thousands more to manufacture a plug-in hybrid in the U.S.

Project NINA – inspired by the ship belonging to explorer Christopher Columbus -- is symbolic of the automobile industry's transition from old world to new.

By 2012 Fisker Automotive is expected to launch a family oriented, user friendly plug-in hybrid featuring cutting edge technology, radical styling and world-class quality. Global sales are predicted to exceed 100,000 units annually. A significant percentage will be exported, helping to balance the US trade deficit.

"This conditional loan represents a significant step in America's future," said Henrik Fisker, CEO. "With it Fisker Automotive can rapidly develop affordable clean cars that satisfy our passion for driving and help restore the US as an auto industry leader."

All Fisker automobiles prove eco-friendly vehicles can be stylish, functional and exciting.

They combine the low energy-cost and tailpipe-emission free benefits of an all-electric car with the unlimited range of a gasoline powered car.

The funds are part of the US Department of Energy's $25-billion Advanced Technologies Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program, created by Congress in November 2008 to help promote the development of energy-efficient, advanced-technology vehicles.

Fisker Automotive has already created hundreds of jobs by partnering with Tier 1 US automotive suppliers to develop the Karma. The company has also recruited a network of 45 premium retailers to market and service its vehicles. With Project NINA, that network is expected to grow to more than 100 US retailers, in addition to those in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

The Fisker Karma's real-world, annual average fuel economy can exceed 100mpg, significantly more than that of today's hybrids. Its exclusive Q-DRIVE® powertrain is expected to deliver an emission-free 50 miles per full charge of its Lithium-ion battery, and a total extended range of more than 300 miles through the use of its gasoline powered engine/generator. If driven fewer than 50 miles per day and fully charged overnight it is possible the Karma can use as little as one tank of gas per year. More than 1,500 of the plug-in hybrids have already been ordered.

It is estimated some 821 million gallons of gasoline will be saved and 8 million tons of CO2 offset from sales of Fisker plug-in hybrids through 2016, based on SAE J2841 Electrical Usage Statistics.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      I can hear Henrik's head growing bigger. Hope they can make it happen. I'd buy a plug-in hybrid Fisker SUV.
        • 8 Months Ago
        You may be thinking of Elon Musk, who i have heard is a cocky person from various sources. But honestly who cares. These are two people who are doing more good in the world than pretty much anyone i can think of. They can be cocky if they wanna be imo.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Very nice. I hope this helps gets more economical EV's on the road. I hope the Obama-haters take notice that this is a LOAN and not a gift.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Yes congrats. Fisker have executed flawlessly so far. The cars are gorgeous and they took the extra step of using recycled materials for the interior.

      Wish they would go pure EV, but at least the powertrain is electric.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Stealth mode allows you to run as a pure EV by ensuring the ICE never kicks in to recharge the battery. That's how the Karma will be allowed the same treatment as a pure EV in many European cities.
      • 8 Months Ago
      I'll begin with the assumption that Fisker must have shown some facts to the DOE that support this loan, but...Fisker has not demonstrated that their technology works (including the 100mph Laguna test lap in their Karma prototype.) Have any customers actually driven this car yet?

      This seems like a risky investment considering this company hasn't delivered a product.
        • 8 Months Ago
        The Q-Drive has been demonstrated by Fisker's parent company Quantum Technologies in various forms as delivered to the US military. The Quantum Aggressor, to be specific.
      • 8 Months Ago
      No idea what you're talking about. Henrik Fisker, unlike some other EV car CEOs is very respectful of others and credits his staff when credit is due. He is a designer, so he has to look the part, but that's about it.

      A SUV? Are you kidding?
      • 8 Months Ago
      Ok, so where did our government come up with $528.7 MILLION? We're in the hole for Trillions, but found a few million just lying around? Wonderful.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Read the press release - the money comes from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM), which was funded by Congress last year.

        Also, it's a LOAN, not a giveaway.
        • 8 Months Ago
        It was in the stimulus package, passed last March. The money has already been allocated in the budget.
        Wondering how we got that trillion dollar deficit? Well, this entire loan (and it is a loan) amounts to about one sixth of one percent of the cost of the war in Iraq.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Kudos to Fisker, this is great news!
      • 8 Months Ago
      Looks like the button on the shifter is on the wrong side, unless either that's not a button, or my thumb is on the wrong side
      • 8 Months Ago
      We spend $40,000,000 for a big fuel tank that gets thrown into the Indian ocean each time we launch that big RV called the Space Shuttle. I think investing the equivalent of two shuttle launches on an eletric car, with all it's benefits would be a bargain and I suppose the money will be paid back with interest on top of that.
      • 8 Months Ago
      It's not the fact it's a loan that bothers me. Where did the money come from? It's certainly not US dollars, but money WE (the US) borrowed. The US needs to lower it's own debt before loaning money, no matter who is receiving the money.
        • 8 Months Ago
        IIRC, more than half the debt is held by Americans.

        Yes, that still leaves a significant amount borrowed from other countries, but think about this: many other governments subsidize companies in their own countries, including companies developing fuel-efficient vehicles. The US could either borrow money and do the same, or give up and plan on buying all our electric cars from China for at least the next few decades. Which would you prefer?
        • 8 Months Ago
        As Spence tried to suggest earlier, the budget/deficit/whatever would be much better off if we spent just a tiny bit less money in Iraq and Afghanistan.

        Last I checked we burn over $10 billion a *month* in those two countries.

        A one-time-loan of $500 million is nothing - I'd love to see an additional $10 billion loaned to the ATVM program which at least there's a decent chance of getting the money back rather than burning it overseas with no possible return.
        • 8 Months Ago
        How long can we continue to borrow and spend?
      • 8 Months Ago
      Spence - you're right about the money already being allocated in the budget. But it comes from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program (ATVMLP), which was passed by Congress last year. It's separate from the 2009 stimulus package, and also separate from the "bailout" (TARP).
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