This seems like good news. After being stuck in political quicksand, at least the DOE is trying to let someone try to make something out of Fisker. I guess there was not much blowback from the sale of the VPS loan. Let's hope the same is true for Fisker.
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Hybrid Technology Buys Fisker Automotive’s Defaulted Loan
Fisker Files for Bankruptcy, and Hybrid Hopes to Acquire the Maker of Hybrid Electric Cars
By Mike Ramsey
Hybrid Technology LLC has agreed to buy Fisker Automotive Inc.’s defaulted federal loan as part of its effort to buy the company, while Fisker filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as part of the deal, the U.S. Department of Energy said in a statement Friday.
The Energy Department said that of the $192 million owed to the government by Fisker, it has recovered $53 million, leaving $139 million unpaid.
The Energy Department in October launched an auction of Fisker’s loan, which had a $168 million unpaid balance. The department didn’t disclose how much Hybrid Technology paid to acquire the loan.
Fisker built $109,000 plug-in hybrid sports cars, but the company stopped producing vehicles in July 2012 and effectively ceased operations earlier this year.
“This purchase marks the first step towards an acquisition of Fisker’s assets by an affiliate of HT that will eventually lead to the restarting of production and distribution of the Karma sedan, as well as the development and production of future advanced hybrid electric vehicles,” the Energy Department said.
Hybrid Technology committed to following through with some kind of presence in the U.S., a condition of the original loan to Fisker. The company owns a former General Motors Co. plant in Delaware that was to be used for building a new line of plug-in hybrid Fiskers until the company ran out of cash.
“HT is committed to building upon the Fisker legacy and presence in the United States as a foundation for the design and manufacture of advanced hybrid electric vehicles,” said Caroline Langdale, a spokeswoman for HT. “We will work to realize the full potential these fantastic cars offer in helping to remake the auto industry for the 21st Century.” Ms. Langdale declined to elaborate on details about Hybrid Technology, including where the company is based.
Fisker in 2010 received authorization from the Obama administration for a $529 million loan from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program. The company drew down roughly $192 million before the department froze future payments because Fisker failed to hit several vehicle development targets required by the loan.
When Fisker failed to make payments earlier this year, the government seized $21 million from the company’s bank account.
The company defaulted on its loan in April and hired a bankruptcy and restructuring firm. However, the company didn’t file for bankruptcy as its investors sought to sell the business and its loan obligation at a reduced rate outside of a bankruptcy filing.
The auction could mean new life for the startup auto maker and its Fisker Karma plug-in sedan, which would compete with Tesla Motors Inc.’s Model S electric sedan and a growing flock of plug-in models from more established luxury brands.
Fisker hasn’t produced a car in more than a year and was plagued by quality problems in the first vehicles it launched in 2011.
Fisker became a symbol of the conflict between the Obama administration and some Republican lawmakers critical of taxpayer-funded investments in battery and electric vehicle companies. Other companies that received loans from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program include Ford Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co., Tesla Motors and Vehicle Production Group, a maker of natural gas-fueled, wheelchair-accessible vans.
VPG’s $50 million loan also defaulted when the company went under and the DOE sold its loan for $3 million.
Fisker Automotive couldn’t be reached for comment. The phone at its Anaheim, Calif., headquarters has been disconnected.
Energy loses $139M on loan to electric car maker
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Posted on November 22, 2013 at 5:03 PM
Updated today at 6:06 PM
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration said Friday it will lose $139 million on a loan to struggling electric car maker Fisker Automotive Inc. after selling part of the loan to a private investor that immediately took the company into bankruptcy.
Hybrid Technology LLC, the California car marker's new owner, said it plans to keep Fisker operating after it emerges from bankruptcy.
The $139 million loss is the largest in the Obama administration's green energy loan program since the 2011 failure of solar panel maker Solyndra. The government lost $528 million in the Solyndra collapse, triggering sharp Republican criticism of the loan program and President Barack Obama's investments in green energy.
The Energy Department awarded Fisker a half-billion loan guarantee in 2009, but suspended it in 2011, after Fisker failed to meet a series of benchmarks. Fisker had received $192 million before the loan was frozen.
The Energy Department said it had recovered about $28 million before selling the remainder of the loan to Hybrid on Friday for $25 million. Hybrid is owned by Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li.
The department's actions, along with the sale, mean the Energy Department has protected nearly three-quarters of its original commitment to Fisker, Energy spokesman Bill Gibbons said Friday.
"While this result is not what anyone hoped, the ($139 million loss) represents less than 2 percent of our advanced vehicle loans, and less than one-half of 1 percent of our overall loan program portfolio" of more than $30 billion, Gibbons said.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., vice chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, called that small solace.
"Once again, American taxpayers are losing out to foreign investors due to the Obama administration's failed green energy policies," Blackburn said. "Time after time this administration has fumbled the ball with their attempts to pick winners and losers when it comes to American energy."
In September, the Energy Department lost about $42 million on a loan to a shuttered Michigan company that made vans for the disabled. Vehicle Production Group, or VPG, suspended operations in February and laid off 100 workers. The company has said it plans to continue production of the wheelchair-accessible vans, which are powered by natural gas, at its Indiana plant.
A spokeswoman for Hybrid Technology said Fisker's new owners are committed to ensuring that the car company, which makes the $100,000 Karma plug-in sedan, continues to design and manufacture electric cars.
"We will work to realize the full potential these fantastic cars offer in helping to remake the auto industry for the 21st century," Caroline Langdale, a spokeswoman for Hybrid, said in a statement.
Langdale declined to say where the company will make its cars, but the Energy Department said Hybrid has committed to moving manufacturing of the Karma from Finland to the U.S., with engineering and design remaining in California.
Blackburn said Fisker is an example of what she called the Obama administration's misguided policies. The loan guarantee program "is quickly becoming a highly utilized stimulus program for foreign investors," she said.