Fisker, electric carmaker backed by $529 million U.S. loan, missed early manufacturing goals image

Fisker, a small company that received a $529 million federal loan in order to develop a plug-in, extended-range electric car, has missed early manufacturing goals and has gradually pushed back plans for U.S. production of its next model by a year, according to The Washington Post.

This week, Fisker announced a delay until 2013 for the production of the moderately priced family car it plans to build in Delaware. Also, its $96,000 Finnish-produced luxury model, the Karma, failed to meet a promised energy-efficiency standard.
The Energy Department stated that $169 million of the loan went to develop the Karma, even though it isn’t being produced in the U.S.

“Ultimately, American taxpayer dollars went to a Finnish automaker to build high-end luxury automobiles for Hollywood.” said Rep. Tim Murphy, a Pennsylvania Republican who sits on the House committee that has been investigating the Obama Administration’s “green energy” loan program.

On the other hand, company co-founder Henrik Fisker said in an interview that, as of this week, the Karma had been cleared for sale in the United States. Forty have arrived from Finland to be delivered to dealers, and four identical silver versions of the low-slung sedan were parked outside the District’s Mandarin Oriental hotel.

“Next year we will reach the 12,000 or 15,000 vehicles we predicted,” Fisker said. “We are really past the start-up risks. That means the skeptics who said we would never produce a car were wrong.”

The Obama administration is continuously blamed for making risky loans to unproven ventures since the previous Solyndra case, a solar company that also won a half-billion-dollar loan from a program to spur clean-energy technologies and then went bankruptcy.

The Fisker commitment was questioned by some from the start, partly because of the company’s political connections. A key investor is a venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, whose partners include former Democratic vice president Al Gore. The investment house raised $2 million for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.