Fisker Automotive, a maker of plug-in hybrid sports cars, may build its second model outside of the United States if federal funds intended to pay for the vehicle’s production fall through, the company’s chief executive said on Tuesday.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Energy froze a $529 million loan awarded to Fisker in 2009 as part of an Obama administration program to spur advanced vehicle development.
The bulk of that loan was slated to help Fisker build the new model, called the Atlantic, at a former General Motors Co factory in Wilmington, Delaware.
“We’re going to launch this car with or without the DOE,” said Chief Executive Tom LaSorda during a media event ahead of the New York auto show. “We’re proceeding where the best cost will be. We’re looking for alternative options to the U.S., of course.”
LaSorda said Fisker would make a decision on where to build the Atlantic by the end of the summer, when production of the model was initially expected to begin. That will now be pushed back.
LaSorda and other Fisker executives, including founder Henrik Fisker, were in New York to showcase a concept version of the Atlantic, previously known as Project NINA.
Fisker is still renegotiating the terms of the DOE loan. It is also is seeking private financing and considering a high-yield debt deal. LaSorda added that Fisker was also interested in strategic partnerships.
And this. . .
The DOE froze its loan to Fisker because of a one-year delay in the bringing the Karma to showrooms. The move forced Fisker to suspend work at the Delaware factory and lay off 26 workers in February.
Then in March, a Karma being tested by Consumer Reports failed because of a defect in the battery packs made by supplier A123 Systems Inc .
The battery packs are now being replaced at A123′s cost. LaSorda told reporters it was considering a number of battery suppliers for the Atlantic, including A123.
Here’s the problem, however: A123 is on the ropes, big time. I’m not sure A123 has the resources to replace the batteries, let alone make new ones for this mythical “Atlantic.”