U.S. Department of Energy Recovers $21 Million from Fisker Despite Missing $10 Million Loan Repayment

By Jacob Brown | April 23, 2013
Embattled Fisker Automotive looks like it's falling farther down the proverbial mine shaft, missing its scheduled $10 million repayment to the U.S. Department of Energy on Monday for a loan of $192 million it took out to fund its green luxury car startup. And yet, somehow, the DOE recovered $21 million from Fisker, which came out of a separate pot o' gold: The one investors created with more than $1 billion, supposedly. In the original terms of the green startup loan that the DOE distributed, it called for Fisker to receive $529 million, but after missing some milestones and a harsh 2012 political season, the money was more than halved. Fisker made due by pooling from investors. Wide-sweeping electrical fires, many of its cars being wiped out during Hurricane Sandy, more political turmoil, its battery supplier A123 going bankrupt, and a few failed attempts to sell the company later, and Fisker is now on life support. It laid off all but 60 of its 210 U.S. workers this month, and a few of its key executives and former executives--founder Henrik Fisker left the company last month before the layoffs--are scheduled to testify before Congress this Wednesday to figure out what went wrong.
Fisker hasn't produced a new car since last summer. The $25 billion DOE loan program has also been shuttered amid Fisker's debacle and following A123 and solar panel maker Solyndra's similar collapses. Automotive.com's take: You know what went wrong? Fisker rushed the development of the Karma because it had deadlines to meet, evidenced by the almost kit-car-like build quality of the original Karma it handed journalists. From there, its suppliers weren't able to refine their products, and when the Karma started catching fire, they had to recall them. That's expensive, especially for a startup. Then the snowball began to tumble. Sad fact of life: Government and private-sector timelines don't always align when it comes to developing a new product. Just ask the government about the Lockheed F-35. Sources: Automotive News (Subscription required), Detroit News