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Fisker Misses DoE Loan Payment; House Hearing Tomorrow

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Henrik Fisker

Henrik Fisker

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The fortunes of the two highest-profile electric-car startups couldn't be diverging more starkly today.

Yesterday, Fisker Automotive failed to make a payment of $10 million on the $192 million of low-interest loan funds it received from the U.S. Department of Energy.

And tomorrow company executives face a grilling by the House of Representatives panel on Economic Growth, Job Creation, and Regulatory Affairs, chaired by Representative Darryl Issa [R-CA], who has proven himself no fan of plug-in electric cars--or government loans to their makers.

Meanwhile, the stock of Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] opened at $51.00 this morning, an all-time high opening price.

Some Tesla investors speculate that others who shorted the stock are now being squeezed, and will soon have to purchase it at any price to cover their positions.

But back to Fisker.

A DoE spokesperson quoted in The Detroit News said that the department had recouped $21 million of the $192 million loan thus far.

And the title of tomorrow's 2 pm hearing, Green Energy Oversight: Examining the Department of Energy's Bad Bet on Fisker Automotive, promises some rocky hours for Fisker CEO Tony Posawatz.

If he appears, that is. As of today, he is listed as "invited".

The other witnesses are a supervisory senior investment officer from the DoE; Fisker's COO Bernhard Koehler; cofounder Henrik Fisker; and a fellow from The Heritage Foundation, a "conservative research think tank" in Washington, D.C.

Fisker himself left the company last month in a disagreement over strategic direction, so he may have some points of view that diverge from those of Posawatz and Koehler.

Whether the hearing will be an impartial assessment of the facts or not may be open to some debate.

At an electric-car event last week, the consensus among a handful of Beltway reporters was that it would likely serve as a platform for Issa to attack what he has termed the "failed green agenda" of President Barack Obama.

The phrase "show trial" was even used by one cynical observer.

None of which goes to obscure the fact that, as of today, it would appear that Fisker Automotive cannot pay back about $170 million of taxpayer loans.

The company has a long and tortured history of big promises and missed deadlines, and the first several hundred examples of its one vehicle--roughly 2,000 Karma electric sport sedans were built--were riddled with quality issues when the car finally launched.

The next remaining news item may well be a formal bankruptcy filing by Fisker.

Until that point, watch the DC press for detailed accounts of tomorrow's hearing.

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Comments (18)
  1. Tesla stock is reaching an all time high while poor Hendrik Fisker has hit rock bottom and is basically facing a lynching mob trying to frame Obama for the alleged failure of policies initiated by the Bush administration. Quite the contrast, but of course the very fact that Tesla's stock is doing great is proof that it's way too early to call the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program the failure the oil acolytes would have it appear to be.

    That said I would be curious to know how Fisker managed to spend almost twice what Tesla spent on the Model S on such a half baked car based on third party technology. Too bad fact finding is usually not high on the agenda of lynching mobs.
     
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  2. The only people who car about what Darrell Issa has to say are folks who would be very unlikely to buy an electric car anyway. Cheap political grandstanding and a waste of both money and time. I'm still waiting for the oil companies to issue a refund for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and once Rep. Issa holds a hearing on that, then I'll listen to his gripes about Obama's green initiatives.
     
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  3. Just out of curiosity, how is Representative Darrel Issa able to be elected among electric car friendly cities like Encinitas (http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1083673_from-gas-station-to-electric-car-charging-is-encinitas-leading-the-nation) if he is reportedly opposed to plug-in cars?
     
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  4. You haven't been to the "central valley" of CA, have you?

    CA (on average in terms of area) is far more conservative than most of the outsiders think...

    If it wasn't for those so called "coastal" area, CA would have been as conservative as Texas.
     
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  5. Sorry, I tried to click a thumbs up. I missed. :(
     
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  6. Expect a lot of bloviating by Republicans backed by little facts. The reality of the overall loan program is positive.
     
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  7. I only hope Tesla doesn't get caught in the political backwash from Fiskar. Henrik is in a tough position: to defend the concept of government loans helping develop cars, he only needs to point to Tesla, which just so happens to be eating his lunch.

    I fully expect the ev-bashers to broadbrush the whole industry and lump ev's in with Solyndra. If only it weren't for that pesky Tesla paying back their loans early....

    How many minutes into the hearing will we first hear the word "Solyndra"? My guess is the Chairman's opening statement.
     
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  8. Funny how those in Congress don't mind giving Billions of $$$ in tax subsidies and credits to Big Oil. But then again... they recv huge campaign contributions from Big Oil, likely have stock in Big Oil, so therefore are not in favor of EV technology or DOE investment.
     
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  9. There's still something that smells fishy about Fisker Automotive to me. It seems as though they planned to take in one billion plus then sink the company and run. It's not any one thing that gives me that feeling, it's a collection of little clues I've noticed over their brief history. When I first saw the car I was instantly attracted to the look but I think that was want they were counting on. The funny part was I got up close saw the bad body panel fit and in my mind I blurted out "you wouldn't see that on an Aston Martin". That phrase shot into my head so fast I actually stood their looking at the body panels to confirm what I had just said to myself. Valmet built the Porsche Boxster and Cayman but it's strange how off the Karma was.
     
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  10. I think Henrik Fisker was serious about building great looking cars with green credentials but a lot of the parties he attracted to do the engineering and execution for him were mainly interested in the money he managed to raise without necessarily being able or even be interested in giving Fisker the sort of good value for money solutions the company needed to become competitive.
     
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  11. I agree, Henrik's vision may have stayed true, but he may have unknowing hired a few greedy partners. All that money went somewhere, because it certainly didn't go toward sustaining the company. Tesla is doing extremely well but I never heard them say they raised 1.4 billion in private funding like Fisker claimed to have done, so why did Fisker Automotive continue fall apart? Something isn't right.
     
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  12. Actually I think my notion that Tesla only spent half what Fisker spent wasn't quite correct. Although Tesla seems to have spent ~$700million on Model S development total expenditures were bigger since like Fisker Tesla had to spend money on issues that weren't directly product related like dealer network, market development and new products.

    Still it seems like Fisker really outspent Tesla despite the fact it used a lot more off the shelf/third party solutions and the end result wasn't nearly as impressive.
     
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  13. I imagine that Tesla S had less parts and complexity to deal with than the Karma. So, it should naturally do better. That is "the big advantage" of BEV. But Tesla do have a list of SW problems to deal with...
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  14. The Karma's fit and finish were always an issue. They were able to create 95% of a great new car, but it's the remaining 5% that people notice. Tesla has managed to make a complete car with the fit and finish of major car companies, and concierge-type service, which will really help their brand in the future.
     
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  15. Yeah it was just off enough to be noticeable, you don't see mistakes like this in cars costing one fourth the price of a Karma. It also should have been faster the Model S can hold it's own against the BMW M5 but you could beat a Karma in a BMW 135i.
     
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  16. hey, don't knock the 135i. It is a fast car! When you put a twin turbo straight 6 and more than 300HP into a "subcompact", you get a really fast car...

    Outside of US, that engine is used in 7-series as well. 135i is a classic big engine/small body sports car.
     
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  17. I'm not knocking the 135, I was using it to say that even BMW's smallest car can easily beat a Karma. Also the engine in the 7-series puts out 315 horsepower whereas the 135 has 300 hp, so it is slightly different. I didn't mean to imply that the 135 was slow in fact I was implying that it would destroy the Karam a car costing over $100,000.
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  18. Well, i35i can leave a lot of cars in the dust. In fact, it can leave most of the cars on the road today in the dust...

    I agree with your point, a $100k car like the Karma should be "$100k" fast, but it is only as fast as a "$50k" car. But I think Karma was trying to be a "luxury" sedan instead of a "performance" sedan. Still, it should have been faster.
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