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Fisker Karma - Click above for high-res image gallery

In Wilmington, Delaware this morning, Governor Jack Markell was joined by Vice President Joe Biden and Henrik Fisker for the official announcement about the purchase of General Motors' closed plant there. Fisker will re-tool the plant to build a new, more affordable plug-in hybrid sedan to slot in below its more luxurious Karma. The goal is to have the model sell for under $40,000 after federal tax credits.

The current schedule is to have the car in production by the end of 2012 with volumes getting up to 75,000-100,000 units annually by 2014. Fisker has moved up its development schedule for what they are calling Project Nina thanks to the $528 million low cost loan it recently received courtesy of the Department of Energy. During the announcement, Fisker stated that he wants to export half of the production from the plant while creating 5,000 jobs in the U.S. (2,000 at the plant and 3,000 at suppliers). The local UAW president was also on hand, so it looks like the plant will remain unionized, which is very unusual for a startup auto plant.

Fisker is paying $18 million for the factory from Motors Liquidation which is the remainder of "Old GM" which is selling off assets from bankruptcy court. The plant most recently produced the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky, both of which ended production last spring.

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[Source: Fisker Automotive]

PRESS RELEASE:

Fisker Automotive to Buy U.S. Assembly Plant to Build Affordable Plug-in Hybrid Cars

WILMINGTON, Del., Oct. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Fisker Automotive has selected the Wilmington Assembly plant in Wilmington Delaware to build affordable plug-in hybrid cars.

Fisker executives made the announcement inside the dormant facility today, joined by Vice President Joe Biden, Delaware Governor Jack Markell and other state officials.

The plant will support Fisker Automotive's Project NINA, the development and build of an affordable, family-oriented plug-in hybrid sedan costing about $39,900 after federal tax credits.

Production is scheduled to begin in late 2012. Fisker Automotive anticipates Project NINA will ultimately create or support 2,000 factory jobs and more than 3,000 vendor and supplier jobs by 2014, as production ramps up to full capacity of 75,000-100,000 vehicles per year. More than half will be exported, the largest percentage of any domestic manufacturer.

The modernized Wilmington Assembly plant was selected for its size, production capacity, world-class paint facilities, access to shipping ports, rail lines and available skilled workforce.

"This is a major step toward establishing America as a leader of advanced vehicle technology," said Henrik Fisker, CEO. "Wilmington is perfect for high quality, low volume production and will soon be the proud builder of world-class, fuel-efficient Fisker plug-in hybrids."

Fisker Automotive has signed a letter of intent with Motors Liquidation Co. (MLC), formerly known as General Motors Corp. to purchase the Wilmington plant for $18 million after a routine four-month evaluation period.

An additional $175 million will be spent to refurbish and retool the factory over the next three years.

Funds will come from a conditional loan of $528.7M the Department of Energy awarded the company in September.

The loan is part of the $25B Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program (ATVM) appropriated by Congress in 2007 to help the United States lead in the development and manufacturing of advanced technology vehicles.

The company's first car, the Fisker Karma, will be the world's first production plug-in hybrid when it goes on sale this summer at retailers in the U.S. and Europe.

Fisker plug-in hybrid cars will help remove the country's dependence on foreign energy by eliminating the need for 42 million barrels of oil by 2016. They will also offset 8 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

"With our close-knit business, government, and educational communities and our potential to respond rapidly to new opportunities, today's announcement is a testament to what works best in Delaware. Fisker is a perfect partner in shaping Delaware's economic future, and we are thrilled that the vehicle that can reshape the automobile industry will be built here in Delaware, by Delaware workers." said Governor Jack Markell (D-Delaware).

Gary Casteel, UAW director responsible for the plant, said, "It gives me great pride to give UAW Local 435 workers the opportunity to partner with Fisker Automotive to create a greener America by building a plug-in hybrid car that will compete globally."

ABOUT FISKER AUTOMOTIVE, INC.

Fisker Automotive is a privately owned, premium American car company with a vision to lead the automotive industry into the next-generation of automobiles with high-end design expertise and eco-friendly powertrain technology. Global headquarters are in Irvine, California, USA.

The company was created in 2007 to leverage the design capabilities of Fisker Coachbuild, LLC, founded by auto design veterans Henrik Fisker and Bernhard Koehler, and the PHEV powertrain capabilities of Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide, Inc. (NASDAQ:QTWW) , a major Tier 1 supplier of clean vehicle technologies to the automotive OEMs. Previously, Fisker, CEO, was design director for Aston Martin and president and CEO of BMW's DesignworksUSA. Koehler, COO, led operations for Ford's Global Advanced Design Studio and created concept cars for Aston Martin, MINI and BMW.

ABOUT WILMINGTON ASSEMBLY

The Wilmington Assembly plant was built by General Motors in 1947. Over the years it has been expanded to 3.2 million square feet on 142 acres of land. It includes an on-site powerhouse and waste water treatment facility. More than 8.5 million cars have been manufactured there, including the Pontiac Streamliner, original Chevrolet Impala, 1997-1999 Chevrolet Malibu, Saturn L-Series and the Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky/Opel GT roadsters. Production capacity is 300,000 cars per year. The plant and its workforce have received many awards for excellence in quality, production and safety.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 35 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Sean, if everybody thought like you do, then the US would be stuck in the dark ages. Do you think that GM, Ford, and Chrysler have never received loans, grants, or other assistance from the government? Don't be so naive.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think that Chrysler had it loans backed by the Government during the Iacocca years.

      Let the Government be the government and the private sector be private.
        • 7 Months Ago
        "I think that Chrysler had it loans backed by the Government during the Iacocca years.

        Let the Government be the government and the private sector be private."

        Bad example. While the current Chrysler is not in great shape. The Government loans during the Lee I.'s reign were paid back in full to the government, before they were due, and I believe with interest.

        This loan allowed the old Chrysler to survive long enough to come out with the mini-Van's and K-Cars. Both of which saved the company.

        To put a fine point on it, Lee's company was then systematically destroyed by the fine folks at Daimler.

        Just an FYI.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Some information on the loan:

      "The agency loan is in two stages, with the first $169.3 million to be used for what Mr. Fisker called “final testing and certification” of the Karma at the company’s Pontiac, Mich., plant (with support from company headquarters in Irvine, Calif.). The second stage, $359.36 million, is to gear up for manufacture of the Nina in the United States.

      An Energy Department spokeswoman, who asked not to be identified, said in an interview that Fisker’s “two projects seemed to be worth the risk of the loan,” because they would create “a large number of jobs in America.” She said that Fisker had “marks it needs to hit before we commit to the loan. When the conditions are met, the loan goes out the door.”"
      Source: http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/24/fisker-to-receive-5287-million-federal-loan/

      From the WSJ:
      "He said he pitched the Karma to Mr. Gore at an event hosted by KPCB last year, and that the former vice president almost immediately submitted a down payment for the car...
      Fisker's top investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a veteran Silicon Valley venture-capital firm of which Gore is a partner. Employees of KPCB have donated more than $2.2 million to political campaigns, mostly for Democrats, including President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign contributions....
      Fisker's government loans will come from a $25 billion program established by Congress in 2007 to help auto makers invest in the technology to meet a new congressional mandate to improve fuel efficiency. "
      source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125383160812639013.html

      The nina's target pricetag is $48K before tax incentives (projected to be $40 after tax incentives). I can find no information that mentions this is a secured loan.

      While Fisker actually has the capacity to build cars, unlike Tesla, they lack marketing and distribution. When the economy turns around, they will be swallowed up by the big players or die. Just more government pork at taxpayer expense to build yuppymobiles.

        • 7 Months Ago
        Boy****

        Please, you are embarrassing yourself. Take some business classes. You clearly have no idea how investing works.

        Investors will only lose the extent of their investment in the firm. The company assets would be liquidated and after the attourneys are paid, the remaining couple dollars would be recovered by the government. The loan is not secured, this is not a home loan. They couldn't have gotten the financing they need in the private sector.
        • 7 Months Ago
        "But what you don't seem to realize is that it will take thousands and thousands of cars to pay us, the taxpayers, back. To sell this number of cars requires dealer networks, support networks, marketing and public awareness."

        Yes, I do understand this. But in order to sell "thousands and thousands", Fisker has to be able to build thousands and thousands. They're not shooting too high, just 75-100K a year - and half of that amount will be sold around the world.

        I've already pointed out the the dealer/support network is already being built, and there's still several months before the cars will actually be delivered.

        "But why should I be forced to subsidise a play toy for the affluent?" Oh, go cry yourself to sleep wondering that one - life isn't fair. Why should I pay to educate you or your kids? Because both loans (to automakers and to college kids) benefit society as a whole, that's why.
        • 7 Months Ago
        This Al Gore stuff is getting borning
        • 7 Months Ago
        "But if Fisker does go belly up (and I think that I have told you this a half a dozen times already) they have investors who will have to pay back the loan. They weren't able to get the loan unless they had the equity to back it. Guess what, they do. "

        Yes, You keep saying it, but it still isn't true.
        There is no correlation between the number of times that you say it and it being true.

        It is kind of like stamping your feet and telling your parents that you will hold your breathe until you turn blue-unless you get your way.- Go for it.

        This isn't research, it is merely a car making enterprise.
        • 7 Months Ago
        Here's the terms of the conditional loans:

        http://www.atvmloan.energy.gov/keydocs/fiskerconditionalcom.pdf

        The loans are for building a "car making enterprise", specifically, completing the engineering integration work on the Karma, and establishing a manufacturing facility in the US.

        The loans are secured per the terms in the agreement, essentially, the DOT would put a lien on everything Fisker has. Section 15 details the Collateral Fisker is putting up.
        • 7 Months Ago
        OK, I understand you like Fisker. I like Fisker, nice looking, sporty!

        But what you don't seem to realize is that it will take thousands and thousands of cars to pay us, the taxpayers, back. To sell this number of cars requires dealer networks, support networks, marketing and public awareness.

        What happened to Daihatsu, Isusu, or Citroen, or Fiat, or Renault or any of the other major car companies that have tried to sell mainstream cars on our shores? It takes a huge amount of money and expertise to do it. Ford, Toyota, Fisker??? I don't think so. Panos, Lotus, Fisker??? That sounds more reasonable.

        Like I said, I like Fisker. I like the car. But why should I be forced to subsidise a play toy for the affluent? That is not fair. The Bush administration created this fund, and it should be used to minimize our use of foreign oil by developing technologies, not making yuppiemobiles. It is just our politicians acting like royalty giving away OUR money.
        • 7 Months Ago
        "While Fisker actually has the capacity to build cars, unlike Tesla, they lack marketing and distribution.

        Fisker hasn't done much national advertising, but they've gotten very good press for the past couple years. I'm sure that it will ramp up soon enough...

        As far as distribution, they're way ahead of Tesla. Here's their dealer roster:

        http://karma.fiskerautomotive.com/files/Fisker-Charter-Retailer-List.pdf


        • 7 Months Ago
        Alright Sean, I'll bight. Lets take a look into your ideal world. You say "government money should be used for research on new technology". Here are the implications of that statement to me. Get rid of the DoD, DOE, NREL, public universities, public libraries, public schools, government contracting, and all of the united states military services. Brilliant plan!

        And by the way, you know what liquidating assets does right? It creates money. It would create money out of all of the money that the investors put into the company (i couldn't find a figure but no doubt, hundreds of millions of dollars) + all of the money loaned to the company. The losses (highly unlikely) would be negligible at best. Also if YOU had read pages 9 and 10 you would have seen how they are going to be all over Fisker's ass about keeping their company afloat.

        • 7 Months Ago
        I know that I am arguing with fanboys here. No disrepect to Fisker, but its chances of success are slim. Anyone here, who is honest, will admit that in 2012 or 2013 or 2014 or 2015, Fisker is not going to be in the same league as Toyota, Ford, Honda, GM, or even Subaru. They will be merely another manufacturer of Boutique cars like Panos or Tesla. Fisker understands this and is pricing their cars high. Unlike Tesla they actually have the capacity to build cars.

        What people here are failing to see is that the market is not static, it is dymanic. While Fisker is learning the business of building and selling cars, real car companies will buy up or develope the technology they need and bring product to market at a much lower cost than a Fisker or a Tesla. They will die or be swallowed up. Holding so much government debt Fisker will most likely die.

        It is not the job of the government to create jobs or make cars. The governments job is to step out of the way and keep from screwing things up.** This deal to give loans to Fisker was a few drops out of a much larger Government give-away. It is play money. It was not selected on financial merit, it was selected for politcial merit. The Government has wasted a lot more money than this before. Gore, Biden, Union workers??? Even the least cynical among us has to admitt that this smells fishy. There were a number of other companies with more practical designs that were turned down. But when the Government is in the car business, then decisions will be political by definition.

        **Part of the reason for our health care problems is that our goverment passed bills to limit competition among insurance carriers. Now they claim to be for competition!
        • 7 Months Ago
        "government money should be used for research on new technology"
        They do that via grants, so obviously that has higher priority than the ATVM loans, as it should.

        But research can only get you so far. If no one brings it to the market, all the research is effectively useless. The loans are about bringing these vehicles to market and also about creating jobs in the sector. So they are looking at companies with the best chances of being successful and creating a decent amount of jobs. A highly visible company and relatively well funded company like Fisker makes sense in this regard. So it's not just about tech, but also about jobs. These kind of loans create blue collar jobs, while research work doesn't really create many new jobs.

        They probably could have gone to more traditional automakers, but two of the big ones are out of the count for now (GM and Chrysler) because of financial problems.
        • 7 Months Ago
        "The other car companies that I mentioned, Daihatsu, Isuzu, Renault..." built garbage. Enough said. They failed because they built miserable cars. I'm not a particular fan of Tesla (pure BEV will be a niche in my opinion), but they have proven that their business plan works. It would be a shame if Daimler gutted them, and I haven't heard anyone suggest that is Daimler's plan. It seems they just wanted a proven supplier of technology and batteries...

        I'm glad your kids will be productive member of society. That's the benefit of their tax-payer paid education. Most of us are hopeful that Fisker will also become a productive member of US industry. Fisker too can potentially give back more than the half-billion it is set to receive. That risk is worth the loan. Just like it was worth the risk to educate your kids...

        • 7 Months Ago
        @letstakeawalk

        Thanks :)
        • 7 Months Ago
        ... You say "government money should be used for research on new technology". Here are the implications of that statement to me. Get rid of the DoD, DOE, NREL, public universities, public libraries, public schools, government contracting, and all of the united states military services. ...

        Do you actually think before you type? All of those organizations do research on new technologies. That is where government money should go, not to make new car companies for yuppiemobiles.

        Excuse me, you do not know what you are talking about. You are a college student and don't have enough experience. OK Sport, I'll attempt to explain it to you and I'll try to use small words. I read the pages and thus directed you to them. New start up get money from venture capitalists. An Fisker got some initial money from them. This is the place they should go. The business of venture Caps is risk. This is not the business of the Federal Government, it is not even the business of Banks.

        "they have investors who will have to pay back the loan. They weren't able to get the loan unless they had the equity to back it. Guess what, they do. "

        This statement is completely in error.

        "And by the way, you know what liquidating assets does right? It creates money. It would create money out of all of the money that the investors put into the company (i couldn't find a figure but no doubt, hundreds of millions of dollars) + all of the money loaned to the company. The losses (highly unlikely) would be negligible at best. "

        This statement comes in a close second. When a company defaults on a loan it is because the company no longer has money to make payments. The company will attempt to get their hands on any cash they can in order to avoid this. They will screw over their suppliers, at least any that are unsecured and file for reorganization. If they go belly up then it is a fire sale. Note that they paid something like $18 million for the factory that GM recently setup for the Solstice. Do you really think that GM got a good price? FIRE SALE. Defaulting on the loan is a NO WIN for all parties, obviously Fisker would be out of business and the government would recoup a fraction of the taxpayer's money. "

        "The losses (highly unlikely) would be negligible at best. " By the way, I have a bridge that you might be interested in.

        I appreciate that you have a Fisker poster in your dorm room next to all the babes, but enthusiasm does not make you correct.

        I like a lot of cars, I like Fisker, but the public will determine their success of failure and the government should have no part of it.

        • 7 Months Ago
        letstakeawalk, letswakeup and smell the coffee.

        You are ignoring the facts. It is one thing to say that they are going to have these things. It is another to have them. Let me repeat. The other car companies that I mentioned, Daihatsu, Isuzu, Renault. They are big, had dealerships and support and failed. And you want to beleive that Fisker, will succeed. And with niche vehicles.! Well, it's a nice dream- go for it.

        Let's look at Tesla. How many cars have they shipped? Less than 1,000? And they don't actually make their cars, they install powertrains and wire battery packs. No doubt they're making money! Oh wait, they aren't. But Daimler Benz invested in them, they must be good. Daimler Benz, the company that gutted Chrysler, also sells cars under the Maybach name. A luxury brand that died out years ago. So when Tesla folds, Mercedes will exercise its options and have their own electric brand. Cheap.

        And my kids, who are both in engineering schools, will be productive tax paying members of society and will pay far more than they have ever received. Fisker, who isn't scheduled to actually produce a car until at least 2012 in Delaware, announces that the GM factory will reopen and those laid-off union workers will have jobs which benefits Biden's candidates in his home state. Works for me!
        • 7 Months Ago
        letstakeawalk,

        Thank you! Very well done. I'm impressed. I was looking for this myself.

        Now, if Boy***** would read pages 10 and 11. The section under Collateral. You will understand how the loan works. Only the assets will be liquidated, no investors are going to step in and pay back the loan.

        And thank you! The loans are for building a "car making enterprise", specifically, completing the engineering integration work on the Karma, and establishing a manufacturing facility in the US."

        This is my point, government money should be used for research on new technology, not setting up more car companies. Battery technology, fuel cell technology, etc. Yuppiemobiles- NO!
        • 7 Months Ago
        Hey sean,

        I am in engineering school right now. I am going to be a tax paying productive citizen of this country too. You can bet that this car is going to be close to the top of my list when I have enough money to buy one (Which you can bet won't take long).

        But if Fisker does go belly up (and I think that I have told you this a half a dozen times already) they have investors who will have to pay back the loan. They weren't able to get the loan unless they had the equity to back it. Guess what, they do.

        Besides this point, if you really want to cry about subsidizing technology, lets end all of the oil subsidies (in the forms of grants) and we would be able to GRANT this money to Fisker multiple times over again. You're distaste for this company is completely juvenile and unwarranted.
        • 7 Months Ago
        "This is my point, government money should be used for research on new technology, not setting up more car companies. Battery technology, fuel cell technology, etc. Yuppiemobiles- NO!"

        DoE money is still going into research (then Congress screws it up because they think they know more than a Nobel-winning physicist). But Tesla has shown that making advanced technology vehicles is no longer research. For over a decade government gave substantial money to the big three for Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles and FreedomCAR, and got f***-all for sale out of Detroit, who were simultaneously lobbying against the CARB regulations that would have mandated production of such cars.

        This is economic stimulus allied to the development and manufacture of advanced vehicles in the USA. I'm confident you're in the minority objecting to it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      To to show that Sean is full of BS.

      1. Al Gore has investments in a company who provides investments to Fisker.

      2. Dick Cheney was the former head of Haliburton, which was given first preference in the reconstructure of Iraq, this company then went on to over charge US fighting troops for their food and fuel, really patriotic that is.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halliburton#Involvement_in_the_Iraq_war

      I imagine when a GOP member is doing something immoral it is ok, but when a Dem is making a sound investment that will give a return and this company gets a (LOAN) from the government it is pure EVIL!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Now the question will be:

      As the Karma is slated to be built in Finland, the only product for the Wilmington plant is the still-to-be-designed Nina. If the Nina is to be built there, what's the market for $40k plug-in electrics? Will the volume be enough to justify the purchase of the plant (especially since the sales of $25k roadsters wasn't enough to justify keeping the plant in the first place)?

        • 7 Months Ago
        About the same as the market for the Volt I would say.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think Fisker has a better shot at success than Tesla does with the model S. Fisker is using existing luxury car dealers to sell his cars. Tesla has decided to open company stores. Lux buyers expect a lot, having an experienced dealer selling and servicing his cars is the way to go. I am also not a fan of government loans, the government should not be in the banking business, that is what private enterprise is all about. Do we really want government favoring particular businesses?
        • 7 Months Ago
        Tesla would find it difficult to sell its cars through regular dealers because there's almost no servicing required. No oil changes, no smog check, no tune-ups, none of the stuff that represents most of a dealership's profits.

        Also, dealers have problems selling a car that's an implied criticism of every other model on the lot.

        (Finally watching "Who Killed the Electric Car", particularly the Saturn segments, brought this home.)
        • 7 Months Ago
        Serge.

        You cannot spend your way out of a recession. Please notice what is happening to the value of our currency! It is worth less and less. Other countries are not wanting to buy our debt. They are pushing to have the dollar replaced as a standard currency. If no one buys the debt, and businesses are doing poorly, the only thing that you can do is print more money and deflate your currency even more.

        Desperate times call for belt tightening and responsibility. NOT INSANE SPENDING.
        • 7 Months Ago
        Actually we technically can...

        But on topic, I find it a very good thing that our government is paying for the best technology to be built here.

        About the government favoring one company though, you couldnt be further than wrong. If you looked you would have noticed that under the same congressional act, they also gave out loans to other car companies competing in the same market (including the tesla model s which you mentioned).
        • 7 Months Ago
        How about investing tax dollars in paying down the debt? We can't keep borrowing money from China among others.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Fisker seems like a smart guy. He knows that people want:

      1. A beautiful car.
      2. A powerful car.
      3. Sporty handling. (No heavy battery pack)
      4. Freedom (unlimited range)
      5. A huge tax deduction.
      6. A conversation piece.

      The question is, can he deliver those things at a lower price than the Karma's?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Exactly.
      • 5 Years Ago
      And today is yet another victory for the world of plug in electrics!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hopefully Fisker can prove that unions are not the cause of GM's problems. When union and management are working toward the same goal, good things can happen. This sure is unusual, but I hope they can make it work.

      This is getting more interesting by the minute...
      • 5 Years Ago
      I love watching american laiz fairez nuts fight it out. As capitalism is any less short-sighted than humans themselves? Sometimes we need bold moves that involves long-term planning instead of emotion driven consumption patterns and incentives that capitalism operates on. If the reward lies too far in the future, the emotional response will be to not recognize and pursue it. For that we need a centralized unit unaffected by capitalism.

      In case of the PHEV/EV subsidies trough the 25B fund. Not every loantaker will be succesful. They don't need to be. It's not the plan at all. The dividends will be paid trough less imports of oil and cars, jobs, energy security (and the associated cost in lives), tax revenue. The DoE has no interest in profitting directly from the loans like banks do, they are interested in shaping the future of US. Which in capitalistic conditions, a bank has no incentive to.



        • 7 Months Ago
        Although arguably, what we're doing ISN'T free-market based.

        CAFE, and these DOT loans aren't allowing free-market principles to encourage breakthroughs, they're stop-gap measures that are politically palatable.

        A real free-market means of increasing alternative-fuel innovation / decreasing oil consumption would be to tax gasoline to where there's inherent incentive NOT to burn it.
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