Fisker CEO revamps business plan amid Karma woes

Wed Apr 4, 2012 12:39am EDT
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By Deepa Seetharaman

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fisker Automotive, a maker of plug-in hybrid sports cars, may build its second model outside of the United States if federal funds intended to pay for the vehicle's production fall through, the company's chief executive said on Tuesday.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Energy froze a $529 million loan awarded to Fisker in 2009 as part of an Obama administration program to spur advanced vehicle development.

The bulk of that loan was slated to help Fisker build the new model, called the Atlantic, at a former General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote) factory in Wilmington, Delaware.

"We're going to launch this car with or without the DOE," said Chief Executive Tom LaSorda during a media event ahead of the New York auto show. "We're proceeding where the best cost will be. We're looking for alternative options to the U.S., of course."

LaSorda said Fisker would make a decision on where to build the Atlantic by the end of the summer, when production of the model was initially expected to begin. That will now be pushed back.

LaSorda and other Fisker executives, including founder Henrik Fisker, were in New York to showcase a concept version of the Atlantic, previously known as Project NINA.

Fisker is still renegotiating the terms of the DOE loan. It is also is seeking private financing and considering a high-yield debt deal. LaSorda added that Fisker was also interested in strategic partnerships.

The Delaware plant, which can build up to 100,000 cars, is still the "primary" choice, but where the Atlantic is built depends in part on who invests in the company, LaSorda said.   Continued...

The Fisker automotive electric Atlantic sedan is seen during its unveiling ahead of the 2012 International Auto Show in New York April 3, 2012. REUTERS/Allison Joyce