Fisker Lines Up $115.3 In Funding, Still Needs To Spend $169m On Karma Engineering

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

With the economy desperately looking for signs that a bottom has been reached, news that Fisker has raised $115m in new funding might indicate that (if nothing else) the money markets are back to their good old speculative selves. At least it might if there weren’t so many darn extenuating circumstances. On the one hand, Fisker seems like the kind of business that has little business attracting much, well, business. Its $90k+ Karma brings little more to the table than some competition for Tesla in the EV-glamor-bauble segment, and like Tesla it’s trying to leverage its first model into ever cheaper, higher-volume vehicles. So why are VC firms giving Fisker the time of day?

The biggest reason is that there’s a half-billion dollars of Department of Energy low-cost retooling loans just waiting for Fisker to tap. And actually, Fisker needed this round of funding to go well in order to meet the DOE’s viability standards for the loan. Needless to say that $529m helped raise the $115m. Whether it made sense for the DOE to jump first on Fisker, essentially “king-making” the firm is another question that is sure to have a less convenient answer.

The other major factor in this funding round is Fisker’s tie-up with A123. The battery maker has also benefited considerably from federal largesse ($250m from ATVML), had a fairly successful IPO, so it’s got cash but lacks customers. Bam, A123 invests $23m into Fisker, making up nearly a quarter of this round of funding. Customer problem solved! Well, at least until Fisker starts, you know, actually selling vehicles. Thus far, consumers have had to take Fisker at face value, but selling and servicing cars is always harder in practice than theory.

The rest of Fisker’s latest round of funding comes from Kleiner Perkinds Caufield & Byers, which essentially doubled down on its earlier investment in Fisker, and Ace Investments.

“Raising $115 million in these times speaks volumes about the value of our business model and the vast potential of plug-in hybrids,” says Heinrik Fisker. It also speaks to how much work Fisker still has to do. According to Reuters, Fisker still needs to spend $169m on engineering for the Karma, which is due to hit the US market… this year. How is that supposed to work? Plus, Fisker has to raise another $27m by mid-February to stay current with its DOE loan terms. There’ll be plenty of time for self congratulation when Fisker is actually selling cars.

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  • Adamatari Adamatari on Jan 18, 2010

    I expect a Tesla level of delays - it's natural, though, because they wouldn't get enough speculative money if they were honest... However, just like Tesla, I expect them to put out a product in a year or so that works. Hopefully it works well. Funny how we've heard so little about Tesla now that they actually have a car out... Personally I hope they all do well. It seems to me that to make a new production car (kit cars have separate rules) you already have to be fairly big or have a lot of money, so it's very hard for new companies and new ideas to get off the ground. The consequence is hype, hype, hype to run up the money.

  • Kurkosdr Kurkosdr on Jan 19, 2010

    Is it just me, or the Karma's front grille makes the car look like it's mad at something? Look it from any possible angle, and it's ugly. All of the Tesla's cars have much better looks. But on the other hand, Fisker is the only one to give us the Plug-in hybrids we want, so I 'd go for Fisker

    • Accs Accs on Feb 12, 2010

      The overall shape of the vehicle is pretty appealing. It has a nice curvature in the body, a kind of coke bottle look. Tires are of the 20" diameter.. doesn't look like much of a trunk.. but interesting just the same. As far as the front clip goes.. and being mad... Every car.. built in the past 20yrs has a kind of psychological face. Every car either looks mad / pissed off. I actually see it as some kind of a fish. But looks are totally subjective as is their opinion of the design. And technically.. I wouldn't buy either... Just based on the concept of buying a hybrid. I actually like to drive = this hybrid / performance hybrid is BUNK.

  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Ed That has to be a joke.