German investors are eyeing the electric car company, but are only willing to pay a fraction of its worth. Can Fisker be saved?
Fritz Nol, a German investment group, is rumored to be weighing a decision to acquire Fisker Automotive, the struggling hybrid car start-up, for $25 million.
The price tag is only a fraction of the $1.4 billion that Fisker originally raised, but if Fritz Nol beats other bidders--who include Bob Lutz from VL Automotive, Fisker's original founder, Henrik Fisker, and the Chinese automaker BAIC--then they'll be saddled with $192 million in loans from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
As AutoBild reports, Fritz Nol's plan involves moving production from Fisker's contract manufacturer, Valmet in Finland, to an old General Motors facility in Wilmington, Delaware. Fisker, which hasn't produced a car since last summer, bought the former GM space for $20 million to build the Atlantic, which never appeared.
Fisker was dealt a bad hand last October when its lithium-ion battery supplier, A123 Systems, declared bankruptcy. Later that month, 300 of Fisker's first (and only) model, the Karma plug-in hybrid sedan, were ruined during Hurricane Sandy. The seemingly final nail in the coffin came last April when Fisker laid off 75 percent of its employees before defaulting on its DOE loan. To date, the start-up has yet to declare bankruptcy, but rumor has it Fisker's burning through money.
Fisker is basically a concept car company, so given its short production history, Fritz Nol would have to raise more investment dollars in order to revive it. If Fritz Nol succeeded, the company would start with a fleet of 2,500 Karmas, then go on to produce other models such as the Sunset convertible and the Surf hatchback, all luxurious--and electric hybrid--vehicles.
WILL YAKOWICZ is a reporter at Inc. magazine. He has covered business, crime, and politics at Patch.com, and his work has been published in Tablet Magazine and The Brooklyn Paper. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. @WillYakowicz