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Fisker Update: The DOE Challenges Last Night’s ABC News Report on Jobs

Yesterday I posted the ABC News scoop that Fisker’s $529 million loan was being used to create 500 manufacturing jobs in Finland. Here’s the DOE response to the ABC News story:

With the help of a $529 million loan, Fisker is producing high performance vehicles with an advanced hybrid electric powertrain that could significantly improve performance and fuel economy.

Fisker’s loan has two parts. In the first part, Fisker used $169 million to support the engineers who developed the tools, equipment and manufacturing processes for Fisker’s first vehicle, the Fisker Karma. That work was done Fisker’s U.S. facilities, including its headquarters in Irvine, California which has 700 employees and plans to continue hiring. While the vehicles themselves are being assembled in Fisker’s existing overseas facility, the Department’s funding was only used for the U.S. operations. The money could not be, and was not, spent on overseas operations. The Karma also relies on an extensive network of hundreds of suppliers in more than a dozen U.S. states.

The larger portion of the loan — $359 million – is supporting the production of Fisker’s Nina vehicles. Fisker is using this funding to bring a shuttered General Motors plant in Delaware back to life and employing more than 2,500 workers. Fisker was attracted to this site in part by the opportunity to rehire some of the trained, dedicated workers who lost their jobs when that plant closed.

Fisker’s production schedule was delayed by regulatory issues that were outside of its control, but the company has successfully raised more than $650 million in private sector investment to support its ongoing operations since closing its DOE loan.

This still doesn’t explain why Fisker had to go to Finland to build the Karma, but the funniest line is the last one about regulatory issues “outside” of Fisker’s control. Those “regulatory issues” were the EPA and the California Air Resources Board. Venture Wire:

The Irvine, Calif.-based company has faced a delay in delivering its Karma vehicles as it waited for approvals from the Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board. “We’ve received word that we have passed the requirements” from the EPA, Lasse Glassen, Fisker’s director of investor relations, told VentureWire.

And. . .

Earlier this year, Henrik Fisker said he expected that the first cars would be sold in the U.S. by July. Glassen said the environmental approvals were not delays, but rather a process the company has to go through.

In any event, the certification from the EPA fell far short of Fisker’s target.

Yikes. The EPA has finally released its official fuel economy rating for the Fisker Karma, and it’s not high: just 52 MPGe, an all-electric range of 32 miles and 20 miles per gallon on gasoline when the battery runs dry. This is well below the numbers that Fisker reps were bandying about in past years: 67.2 mpge and an all-electric range of 50 miles.

As for the Nina, there are problems on the horizon:

Fisker pushes Nina production to mid-2013

Fisker Automotive will not begin high-volume production of its second line of hybrids in Delaware until mid-2013, company executives said Wednesday.

Anaheim, Calif.-based Fisker, which recently received regulatory clearance to sell its $100,000 Karma sedan, plans to build its second line, the Nina, at a Newport-area plant. Prototypes are planned for next year.

The company continues to say it will employ 2,500 people in Delaware, including contractors and suppliers. Chief Operating Officer Bernhard Koehler said that employment target, a condition of its $21.5 million incentive package from the state, is a “conservative estimate.”

And get this whopper:

Fisker plans production of its Nina line to reach 100,000 cars — but executives would not disclose a timeline. CEO Henrik Fisker dismissed analysts’ concerns his target is too high.

With Chevy struggling to sell its goal of only 10,000 Volts in 2011, I don’t see Fisker ever selling 100,000 Ninas.


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