Fisker Automotive has raised another $100 million in private equity for its line of luxury Karma plug-in hybrid vehicles, bringing its total to nearly $1.2 billion.
That makes the Anaheim, California, carmaker one of the most heavily venture-backed companies ever.
The new money will fund expansion into the Middle East and China, as well as development of its second planned production model - the midsize Atlantic sedan - says Fisker CEO Tony Posawatz.
“The Karma is already a testament to US automotive innovation and advanced technology, and we intend to announce our production plans for the Atlantic and a timeline by December of this year,” says Posawatz, a former Chevrolet Volt guru and General Motors executive who was hired to turn around Fisker in August.
So far, Fisker has delivered nearly 1,500 Karma hybrid sedans since December in the US and Europe. The car costs $103,000 and gets about 40 miles on a charge.
Consumer Reports gave the car an unfavorable review just this week:
“Although we found its ride, handling and braking performance sound and it has first-class interior materials, the Karma’s problems outweighed the good,” says Jake Fisher, director of the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center. “Despite the car’s huge dimensions, it’s very cramped inside. The overcomplicated controls are frustrating and it’s hard to see out. When it’s running, the gasoline engine has an unrefined roar. And the Karma’s heavy weight affects agility and performance, as the Karma lacks the oomph you expect.”
The company has make three recalls, two early this year were related to coolant leaks and faulty technology in the car's battery packs from A123 Systems, which the companies paid to swap. A more recent involving almost all of vehicles, is related to mysterious fires that destroyed at least two Karmas.
Fisker has raised more than $1.2 billion in private equity; $600 million during the past 18 months, including nearly $300 million since the Karma shipped in December 2011.
The identity of Fisker's newest backers hasn't been disclosed, but venture capitalists firms including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Palo Alto Investors have been investors, along with Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who is a high-profile Karma owner.
Fisker didn't get all the money it anticipated from the Department of Energy's (DOE) Advanced Technology Manufacturing loan program, drawing $193 million instead of the $529 million outlined in its business plan.
DOE cites risks in Fisker Karma's business model as one reason for freezing a big chunk of that loan guarantee.
DOE is also watching high-profile electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors more carefully. This week, the company renegotiated its $465 million DOE loan because of cash flow concerns, but now it must come up with a plan to repay it more quickly.
“The department worked with Tesla on a minor technical change to the loan agreement that includes the company submitting a plan to accelerate repayment of the loan,” Damien LaVera, an Energy Department spokesman, told Bloomberg. “Tesla has made loan payments on time and in full.”
Tesla halved its third-quarter outlook to $44 million-$46 million in revenue, compared with analyst projections of $83.1 million. Tesla's full-year forecast is $400 million-$440 million, off from $560 million-$600 million.
The company is spending millions to build an infrastructure that supports adoption of its electric vehicles, including two dozen car dealerships sited in high-end shopping malls and a solar-powered electric vehicle charging network that extends the distances its car owners can travel.