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Remains of Fisker Automotive on Auction Block this Week

Feds hope to recover lost loan money.

by on Oct.07, 2013

It remains to be seen who - if anyone - will put the Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid back into production.

Only a handful of employees still report to work at the Fisker Automotive offices in Anaheim, California, and it has been more than a year since any of the failed maker’s Karma sedans have rolled off the assembly line at a plant in Finland. But the once-promising battery-car maker could get a new lease on life later this week.

Or, more precisely, a new owner could find ways to use Fisker’s assets, which include a second, partially completed plug-in hybrid, as well as a never-completed plant in Delaware.  They’ll be auctioned off on  Friday, October 11th in a move by the U.S. Department of Energy to recover $168 million in loans from a controversial government program intended to help spur the development of alternatively powered vehicles.

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Who will be bidding for the remains of the carmaker is unclear, but since Fisker collapsed last spring several names have been said to be interested. That includes former Chrysler and General Motors executive Bob Lutz, Wanxiang, the Chinese company that purchased Fisker’s battery supplier, the former A123 – now renamed B456 – and Richard Li, a Hong Kong billionaire. The company’s founder, Henrik Fisker, had also expressed interest in repurchasing the eponymously named automaker though it is unclear he has been able to line up any financial backing.

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Henrik Fisker Hopes to Buy His Battery-Car Company Back

Fisker Automotive founder reportedly teaming up with Hong Kong tycoon.

by on May.28, 2013

Fisker Automotive founder Henrik Fisker with the $103,000 Fisker Karma during better times.

Forced out earlier this year after a disagreement over management policies, Fisker Automotive founder Henrik Fisker is hoping to regain control of the struggling maker of plug-in hybrid vehicles which is expected to file bankruptcy unless it can quickly find a White Knight to cover its mounting debts.

Henrik Fisker, who first made his name as an automotive designer, is reportedly teaming up with Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li – an early investor in Fisker Automotive. While Fisker was not immediately available to comment, reports on the Reuters news service indicate they would like to take over the automaker without forcing it into bankruptcy.

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They would be one of several groups company insiders say are interested in taking over Fisker Automotive which launched sales of its Karma plug-in hybrid vehicle early last year. Among the others, former General Motors “car czar” Bob Lutz has teamed up with a Chinese automotive supplier to place a $20 million bid for Fisker post-bankruptcy.

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Bankruptcy Real Possibility, Fisker COO Concedes

Maker, Obama Admin hit hard during House hearing.

by on Apr.25, 2013

Shown here with the $103,000 Karma, former Fisker Automotive Chairman Henrik Fisker was grilled on Capitol Hill.

Fisker Automotive may be running out of options other than bankruptcy, the floundering battery-carmaker’s chief operating officer conceded during an often contentious hearing on Capitol Hill.

The maker — which recently laid off 75% of its U.S. staff and this week saw the U.S. Energy Department seize the company’s emergency reserve funds – has been at the heart of a partisan battle over a program created by the Obama Administration to support clean car technologies. The GOP-controlled House Oversight Committee ordered three current and former Fisker executives, as well as the head of the Energy Dept. loan program to testify about the likely collapse of the automaker.

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“I do not know exactly what the future holds for Fisker Automotive, including whether the company will be able to find new investors,” said COO and co-founder Bernhard  Koehler, “or whether the company may be obliged to seek bankruptcy protection to facilitate its continued efforts to preserve value for all stakeholders.”

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Energy Dept Seizes $21 Mil from Fisker Automotive

Battery-carmaker facing Chapter 11, founder set to testify before House.

by on Apr.23, 2013

Henrik Fisker is one of several current and former Fisker Automotive execs called to testify before Congress.

Even as the company’s founder is set to testify before a House hearing, the U.S. Department of Energy has seized $21 million from Fisker Automotive to apply towards repayment of a federal loan the floundering battery-car manufacturer received.

The move appears to have emptied what was left of Fisker’s fast-dwindling cash assets, a further nudge towards bankruptcy, according to industry observers. The maker has been expected to file ever since laying off 75% of its 160-member staff earlier this month.

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The collapse of Fisker is raising questions not only about a DoE loan program designed to help fund the development of advanced, high-mileage vehicles but what happened with the money Fisker tapped from its loan – as well as an estimated $1.2 billion it received from private investors.

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Fisker Bankruptcy Could Come Within Days

GOP preparing House hearings on collapse.

by on Apr.10, 2013

Henrik Fisker is one of several current and former Fisker Automotive executives who will be asked to testify before the House Oversight Committee.

Lawyers for Fisker Automotive are putting the final touches on paperwork that could put the company into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection within a matter of days, according to numerous sources in and outside the fast-fading battery-carmaker.

The move appears to be coming under pressure from the Department of Energy which is hoping to recoup more than $200 million in government-backed loans it initially provided to help spur the development of Fisker’s plug-in hybrid technology. The automaker has faced increasing turmoil in recent months and last week terminated three-quarters of its 160-member staff.

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The news is causing turmoil in Washington, where the DoE automotive loan program has long been criticized by Republicans. House GOP members are planning to press into Fisker’s problems with hearings by a key oversight committee later this month, with Fisker founder Henrik Fisker and current CEO Tony Posawatz reportedly among those being called to testify.

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Potential Partners May Be Backing Away from Fisker

Geely, Dongfeng might rethink plans for plug-in maker.

by on Mar.18, 2013

The big challenge will be coming up with the cash to bring the Fisker Atlantic to market.

Now that the company’s eponymous founder has tendered his resignation, have several possible Chinese partners also decided to take a pass on Fisker Automotive? That appears to be a strong possibility according to published reports and several sources TheDetroitBureau.com has spoken to.

The question then is whether the struggling battery-car maker will have the resources to continue on its own considering its financial problems and the repeated delays in launching the company’s critical second product, the Fisker Atlantic.

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Founder and non-executive Chairman Henrik Fisker tendered his resignation last Wednesday, citing “several major disagreements” with senior management.  While Fisker has declined to be interviewed about the source of that trouble, company sources tell TheDetroitBureau.com the issues appear to have largely centered around a disagreement with CEO Tony Posawatz over  how much money was needed to move the company forward and where it would come from.

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Fisker May Push Back 2nd, Cheaper Model to 2015

Maker warns investors of delays.

by on Oct.17, 2012

The Fisker Atlantic prototype during its unveiling in New York last spring.

While it could make the difference between long-term success or failure, start-up battery-car maker Fisker Automotive is pushing back the planned launch of its second product line, the maker’s new chief executive has told investors, possibly to as late as 2015.

That’s a setback for the company that, only recently, had hinted it might begin testing a prototype of the vehicle, to be dubbed the Fisker Atlantic, by early next year. On the positive side, the California-based maker of plug-in hybrid sports cars has learned that its battery supplier won’t be going out of business as some had feared.

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But the latest apparent delay could be a serious problems for the maker as the Atlantic is designed to be its first truly mainstream product and its primary source of revenue in the mid-term future.

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Fisker Offers Official Look at New Atlantic Plug-In

But details, including production timing, remain elusive.

by on Apr.04, 2012

The first official pic of the Fisker Atlantic plug-in hybrid.

Henrik Fisker, founder of the eponymous Fisker Automotive, was clearly searching for something new to reveal during an evening news conference the night before the formal opening of the 2012 New York Auto Show.  The problem is that much of what he had hoped to say – and then some – leaked out in the days leading up to the event.

The most important detail confirmed by the Danish designer-cum-automaker was that the second Fisker product line will be dubbed the Atlantic if it ever gets into production.  Make that “when” it gets to production, Fisker asserted, insisting that the California start-up’s problems locking down a Department of Energy loan it thought it already had will not stop its ambitious plans.

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Fisker belatedly reached market with the bigger and decidedly more expensive Karma earlier this year.  But problems bringing it to showrooms led the DoE to withdraw the loan after the company had only been able to draw down about 35% of it.  While new Chief Executive Officer Tom LaSorda is continuing discussions with the government, he told TheDetroitBureau.com that Fisker Automotive is moving ahead with alternative plans to raise money privately to replace the DoE funds.

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Former Chrysler Chief LaSorda Now Fisker CEO

“They didn’t have to twist my arm.”

by on Feb.28, 2012

Former Chrysler Chief LaSorda will now serve as CEO at Fisker Automotive.

Former Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda is back in the saddle, albeit one with a relatively silent source of power, as the new chief executive of battery-car start-up Fisker Automotive.

LaSorda, who had been serving as advisor and vice chairman of the California-based company will step into day-to-day management replacing founder Henrik Fisker as CEO.  The Danish-born Fisker will continue to serve as executive chairman and as the company’s design chief.

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The 57-year-old LaSorda will have plenty of challenges ahead of him.  Fisker Automotive is months behind with the launch of its first product, the plug-in Karma sports car, and it is struggling to renegotiate $528 million in federal loans needed to complete the development and production launch of the maker’s next product, a more mainstream plug-in model codenamed Project Nina.

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Fisker Facing Investor Lawsuit

Could complicate bid to raise cash.

by on Feb.21, 2012

Fisker founder Henrik Fisker with the Karma.

With the fate of its $528 million Department of Energy loan in limbo, Fisker Automotive has been rushing to sign up new investors, reportedly already lining up $260 million during recent months. But the California start-up could be facing new problems in the form of a lawsuit by an investor accusing it of bait-and-switch tactics.

Though it’s unlikely the suit itself could bring a major new financial burden on Fisker, several observers cautioned it could create another management diversion and throw up a red flag that might scare off other potential investors.

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The timing, meanwhile, couldn’t be worse.  Fisker is finally getting to market with the much-delayed Karma plug-in hybrid sports car, but it needs additional funding to ensure that the company’s more mainstream second project, codenamed Project Nina, gets into production in 2013 – also about a year behind schedule.

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