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Edmunds said:
California-based electric-vehicle makers Coda Automotive and Fisker Automotive helped double the amount of first-quarter venture-capital funding granted to clean-technology companies from a year earlier, signaling the growing confidence venture firms have in the ability of independent EV makers to compete against larger competitors, according to a report released today.

Santa Monica-based Coda and Irvine-based Fisker attracted a combined $193 million in first-quarter venture funding and accounted for about 26 percent of the $733.3 million secured by so-called cleantech companies, Ernst & Young LLP reported, citing data from Dow Jones VentureSource.

Cleantech investments outpaced the 11 percent year-over-year growth rate in overall U.S. venture funding, according to Ernst & Young.

The consultant said that private equity money is mirroring that of larger corporations when it comes to electric vehicles, noting that General Motors is investing $246 million in its electric-motor manufacturing efforts, while companies such as Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi will all help fund the worldwide expansion of EV-charging networks.

Delivery companies UPS and FedEx have also invested in hybrid-electric and battery-electric trucks, Ernst & Young says.

Still, despite competition from large automakers such as GM and Nissan, which later this year will start selling the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in electric vehicle and Leaf battery-electric vehicle, respectively, the first-quarter venture funding surge illustrates that private-equity firms believe smaller automakers may be able to attract sufficient demand and compete against their larger competitors in the burgeoning EV market.

Coda later this year plans to debut a five-passenger sedan that will have a single-charge range of about 125 miles, a top speed of about 90 mph and a price of about $40,000 before federal tax credits are applied.

Fisker is building a four-seat extended-range plug-in electric sports car, called the Karma (pictured), that will have a 0-60 mph acceleration time of less than six seconds, a top speed of about 125 miles and a price of about $89,000. That car is also expected to debut later this year.

Both closely-held companies are in discussions with municipalities in Southern California about new manufacturing plants, as is electric carmaker Tesla Motors.
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