Feds Lend Fisker $528M to Build a Plug-In

The Obama administration will loan Fisker Automotive more than half a billion dollars to bring the super-luxe Karma plug-in hybrid to market and develop an “affordable” plug-in that could be on the road as early as 2012.
The California startup said most of the $528.7 million low-interest loan will help finance project Nina, a four-door, five-passenger mid-size plug-in hybrid that will build on the technology underpinning the gas-electric Karma. Whereas the Karma (pictured above) will start at $87,900 when it goes on sale next year, the Nina is expected to cost $39,900 after the $7,500 federal tax credit for EVs and plug-in hybrids.The Karma, like the Chevrolet Volt, uses electricity to drive the wheels and a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine (pictured at right) to keep the electric motors turning once the 22 kilowatt-hour lithium-manganese Enerdel battery runs down. Propulsion comes from a pair of electric motors that deliver a total of 403 horsepower — and 959 pound-feet of torque — to the rear wheels. Fisker Automotive claims the car has a range of 50 miles. Fisker isn’t saying much about the Nina, but told us the car will fall between the BMW 3-Series and 5-Series in terms of size and it will feature “very radical” styling. It also will used a stamped steel frame and body panels (the Karma is aluminum) to save money.
Fisker is the fourth automaker to receive a loan under the $25 billion Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program. The loans are meant to help automakers offset the cost of retooling factories to build eco-friendlier cars that are at least 25 percent more fuel-efficient than 2005 models. Tesla Motors received $465 million in June to help develop the Model S, a mid-sized sedan the company claims will cost $49,000 after the $7,500 tax credit. Ford and Nissan also have received loans.
Fisker and the Department of Energy said the loan will create or preserve as many as 5,000 jobs.
“This investment will create thousands of new American jobs and is another critical step in making sure we are positioned to compete for the clean energy jobs of the future,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement announcing the Fisker loan. “Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles could revolutionize personal transportation and cut our dependence on foreign oil, not to mention give us cleaner air and less carbon pollution.”
The agency said more loans will be announced in the months to come.

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