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Fisker Automotive raises money for plug-in electric car

January 18, 2010 |  1:10 pm

Fisker Automotive, the Irvine-based developer of electric cars, said it has raised an additional $115.3 million in private equity funding to develop plug-in hybrid cars.

The money allows Fisker, founded by Danish design guru Henrik Fisker, to satisfy a U.S. Department of Fisker Energy condition to gain access to $528.7 million in federal loans. The DOE loan is part of a $25- billion fund approved by Congress in 2007 to spur automakers to build electric and fuel-efficient vehicles.

Together the funds will help Fisker to develop its Karma, the company’s first plug-in hybrid.

The company said it was glad it could obtain the private funding “at a time when capital is scarce, the auto industry is struggling and the global economy is just beginning to rebound.”

Fisker said development of the $87,900 Karma will pave the way for a lower-cost plug-in hybrid that the company is calling Project Nina.

Project Nina is expected to be built in Wilmington, Del., at a former General Motors assembly plant starting in 2012.

 “Raising $115 million in these times speaks volumes about the value of our business model and the vast potential of plug-in hybrids,” said Chief Executive Henrik Fisker, who is known for designing the BMW Z8 and the Aston Martin DB9 and V8 Vantage.

The Karma will be assembled in Finland, with a majority of American parts, and production will start late next year, with a target of 15,000 vehicles annually.

Project Nina will be a "family oriented" plug-in hybrid sedan that will cost $47,400 (less a $7,500 federal tax credit). It has a production target of 100,000 vehicles a year.

Fisker, a start-up company, is about to face increased competition from mainstream automakers . Toyota is testing a plug-in version of its popular Prius hybrid.  Ford announced it will build an electric version of its new generation Focus. Nissan plans to start selling its Leaf electric car later this year for about $30,000 and General Motors plans the first sales of its $40,000 Volt electric vehicle this fall.

-- Jerry Hirsch

Photo: Henrik Fisker, founder and CEO of Fisker Automotive, shows off the final production version of the Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid at the Los Angeles Auto Show in December. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times.