Fisker Atlantic
Fisker couldn't hit their stride with hybrid models, even with government backing

The Obama administration is taking a serious hit on their foray into supporting hybrid car maker Fisker Automotive.

Per a report from the Associated Press, the president’s Energy Department admitted to losing the $139 million it loaned to the company. They sold part of the loan to another private investor, which immediately took the company into bankruptcy.

Hybrid Technology, the car company’s new owner, said it plans to keep Fisker operating after it emerges from bankruptcy.

Energy Department spokesman Bill Gibbons told USA Today on Friday that “while this result is not what anyone hoped, the ($139 million loss) represents less than 2% of our advanced vehicle loans, and less than one-half of 1% of our overall loan program portfolio” which accounts for more than $30 billion.

Still, the sum is the largest in the Obama administration’s green-energy loan program since the failure of the Solyndra solar panels in 2011. That collapse, which cost the government $528 million, caused a tidal wave of criticism from Republicans about the loan program and whether the president was investing in the right types of green technology.

When the Energy Department first awarded Fisker a half-billion loan guarantee in 2009, the auto maker failed to meet a number of previously agreed upon benchmarks and their funding was suspended in 2011. In total, the car maker was given $192 million before the loan was frozen. So while the Energy Department was unable to produce the expected results with Fisker, they were able to protect nearly three-quarters of their original commitment, which is a substantial save that can be funneled into other projects later on.

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Despite that silver lining, there have been other green initiatives begun, and then halted, that the Energy Department has invested in, which makes the latest development all the more troubling for Obama’s camp. The Energy Department lost approximately $42 million on a loan to a now-defunct Michigan company that made vans for the disabled. The vans, powered by natural gas, are said to still be in production at Vehicle Production Group’s Indiana plant.

Fisker’s future may seem bleak now, but Hybrid Technology spokeswoman Caroline Langdale released a statement of optimism following the bankruptcy announcement, saying “we will work to realize the full potential these fantastic cars offer in helping to remake the auto industry for the 21st century” but Langdale declined to comment on where the cars would be manufactured going forward. There are rumors though that the company plans to move manufacturing from its current outpost in Finland and set up shop in California permanently.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Word is, Fisker fell victim to a “perfect storm” of operational and financial setbacks, e.g., production delays, problems with a key battery supplier, the destruction of hundreds of vehicles as a result of Superstorm Sandy, etc. But we rarely hear about these things when journalists write about the Fisker loan default. Nor are we informed about what may have been the utter incompetence of the company’s executive staff, who certainly knew how to paint a bright financial picture when they applied for
    the loan request, but who apparently had little talent for following through. They knew that if whole thing went belly-up, the boo-birds would scream “government incompetence” and that they’d simply get another cushy job somewhere.

  2. ” They sold part of the loan to another private investor, which immediately took the company into bankruptcy. Hybrid Technology, the car company’s new owner, said it plans to keep Fisker operating after it emerges from bankruptcy.”

    More accurately, the gov’t passed the ball so someone else could pull the plug and let the creditors take the fall.

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