Congressional Republicans blasted current and former Fisker executives, as well as an official from the Department of Energy over missed milestones for their Department of Energy loans, which saw the company repeatedly fail to meet obligations while continuing to receive taxpayer money.
Fisker has had a trouble history as an automaker, despite its namesake’s success in penning iconic designs for the likes of BMW and Aston Martin. California Republican Congressman Darrell Issa compared Fisker to the likes of Preston Tucker, John DeLorean and Malcolm Bricklin, blunty telling Fisker “Quite frankly, innovative cars have a history of failing.”
But for many Republicans, their ire was aimed less at Fisker than at the Department of Energy. Sub-committee chairman Jim Jordan noted that
“Taxpayers have effectively subsidized luxury novelty vehicles for the likes of Justin Bieber, Leonardo DiCaprio and Al Gore,” Jordan said. “Fisker was not a well thought out startup. It had a fancy design and big names behind it, but no real business acumen. It was never destined to be a company of job creators, rather skillful rent-seekers.”
Fisker’s funding was cut off in 2011, after Fisker had received $192 million of a $529 million loan had been granted. A judge ruled that Fisker had failed to reach production and sales milestones associated with the loan. While the Karma was built in Finland, the next product, the smaller Atlantic sedan, was ostensibly going to be built in a former GM plant in Delaware. But supplier issues (including the bankruptcy of A123 Systems, their battery supplier) along with Fisker’s various recalls and mechanical problems with the Karma, helped derail Fisker’s plans.
Currently, Fisker’s prospects look quite bleak. Bankruptcy is predicted by a number of industry observers, and Fisker COO Bernard Koehler stated “whether the company will find new investors or whether the company may be obliged to seek bankruptcy protection.”