Fisker Automotive may not exactly be chummy with the U.S. federal government these days, but at least it's getting some love from the Middle East.
The California-based extended-range plug-in vehicle maker reached an agreement with Al-Futtaim Group to distribute its cars throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Al-Futtaim sells Lexus, Volvo, Jeep, Toyota and other vehicles throughout the Middle East. The distributor will open a Fisker dealership in Dubai this year.
As for the U.S. government, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which has $193 million in loans out to Fisker, is working with Los Angeles-based investment bank and restructuring expert Houlihan Lokey to keep tabs of Fisker's attempts to raise its own cash, Bloomberg Businessweek reported, citing unnamed people familiar with the situation.
The DOE, in an e-mail to Bloomberg, copped to hiring consultants to tracking companies that have received its loans, but didn't specifically comment on Fisker. The DOE, which slated $529 million in loans for Fisker, froze the credit line after distributing less than $200 million because of production delays related to the Fisker Karma. Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and John Thune (R-SD) are among the members of Congress that have questioned the DOE's decision to grant a loan to Fisker.
Last week, ex-Fisker Chairman Ray Lane went as far as blaming Mitt Romney for the loan-distribution issues, saying that the Republican presidential candidate is using the issue for political gain. Meanwhile, Fisker is still deciding on whether it will use a former General Motors plant in Delaware to build its upcoming Atlantic (formerly Project Nina) sedan.
Anaheim, California USA – April 23, 2012: Fisker Automotive, the leading manufacturer of luxury Electric Vehicles with extended range (EVer™), announced today a significant expansion in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA).
The US automaker has signed an exclusive agreement with the Al-Futtaim Group, one of the region's most experienced automotive distributors, to build its sales presence in fast-growing markets for performance and luxury vehicles.
Henrik Fisker, executive chairman, said: "Fisker Automotive is committed to changing the automotive landscape globally, delivering a more sustainable future through our products. It's essential for us to compete strongly in the Middle East and Gulf region as the company expands outside America and extends its reach globally."
Fisker's luxury plug-in hybrid vehicles will be sold in key markets across the Middle East and North Africa through key retailer outlets operated by Al-Futtaim Group.
Al-Futtaim has more than 70 years of experience running automotive dealer networks and is a leading distributor for world-renowned brands across the MENA region, including Lexus, Volvo, Jeep, Toyota, Hino, Dodge, Honda, and Chrysler.
Len Hunt, President-Automotive, Al-Futtaim Group said: "We are excited to represent Fisker Automotive across the Gulf and MENA Region as exclusive distributors of the luxury plug-in hybrid brand. Al-Futtaim has built strength and credibility in delivering great customer experience through its well established automotive operations in Egypt and the GCC countries."
Fisker's expansion in the region will begin this year in the United Arab Emirates by utilizing Al-Futtaim's first regional flagship dealership at Dubai Festival City, a landmark destination located in Dubai.
Al-Futtaim and its network of experienced retailers will allow Fisker to reach customers in the U.A.E, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, and Egypt.
The distribution deal was facilitated by Michael Burke and Jordan L. Udko of Pacific Med Trade Inc., solidifying a long-term relationship that demonstrates Al-Futtaim Group's belief in the American automaker.
This is the latest step in the international rollout of Fisker's award-winning cars that started with the Fisker Karma sedan-the world's first luxury plug-in hybrid electric vehicle-and to be followed by the company's second vehicle, the Fisker Atlantic.
ABOUT AL-FUTTAIM AUTOMOTIVE
Al-Futtaim Automotive represents some of the world's most popular brands: Toyota, Lexus, Hino, Honda, Volvo, Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge, and is regarded as a pioneer in the region's automotive industry responsible for four out of every ten cars on the UAE roads. Offering customers convenience, choice, and the highest standards of after-sales service through its comprehensive network of showrooms, service and parts distribution centres in the UAE, Al-Futtaim has also built strength and reputation for excellence for passenger and commercial vehicles, construction equipment, used car sales, rental and leasing in almost all countries in the Gulf and MENA regions, and the sub-continent. Established in the 1930s, the Al-Futtaim Group is structured into seven operational divisions: Automotive, Engineering, Electronics & Technology, Retail, Financial Services, General Services, Real Estate, and Joint Ventures. Today, Al-Futtaim operates through more than 65 companies in sectors as diverse as commerce, industry, and services, and employs in excess of 20,000 people across the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Europe.
ABOUT PACIFIC MED TRADE INC.
Pacific Med Trade Inc. (PMT) is a strategic consulting, public relations and investment advisory firm. Founded in 2005 by Dr. Ayman Kandeel, PMT's principals assist clients in identifying unique opportunities, leveraging business and financial transactions, and in brand management. PMT structures value enhancements for its clients in various sophisticated transactions. PMT specializes in managing relationships on the ground for its clients, particularly in the MENA and GCC regions. www.PacificMedTrade.com
ABOUT FISKER AUTOMOTIVE, INC.
Fisker Automotive is an American car company, founded in 2007, committed to producing electric vehicles with extended range (EVer) that deliver uncompromised responsible luxury. The company is designing and developing the world's first line of premium electric plug-in hybrids representing the company's firm belief that environmentally conscious cars need not sacrifice passion, style, or performance. Fisker Automotive is a global company that is redefining luxury for the modern sports car buyer. For more information on the brand and the Fisker Karma Sedan, please go to http://fiskerautomotive.com.