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Summary:

While electric car maker Fisker Automotive is in the process of launching its first electric car, the Karma, to dealerships and customers this summer, the auto startup says it is also starting to hire workers for its next-generation electric car, dubbed code name Project Nina.

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While electric carmaker Fisker Automotive is in the process of launching its first electric car, the Karma, to dealerships and customers this summer, the auto startup says it is also starting to hire workers for its next-generation electric car, dubbed code name Project Nina. Fisker said on Wednesday that it will start posting jobs this weekend on a search to hire 120 people, including engineering staff, technicians, and production workers, for its plant in Wilmington, Del.

Fisker is supposed to launch the lower-cost Project Nina electric cars at the end of 2012, with sales starting in early 2013. Like Fisker’s first car, the Karma, Project Nina will be a plug-in hybrid, but it is supposed to cost closer to $50,000, while the Karma will cost closer to $100,000.

The Department of Energy awarded Fisker $528.7 million in low-interest loans (subject to certain benchmarks) back in September 2009, and Fisker used funds from the loan to buy the Wilmington plant from Motors Liquidation Co., or “the old GM.” Fisker said it expects to invest $175 million over a three-year period in retooling the facility, and Fisker has planned to have the plant cranking out 75,000 to 100,000 vehicles a year by 2014.

Scaling production for both cars will require a massive amount of funds, and Fisker has raised over $1 billion in equity, loans and grants. Fisker is also expected to attempt to go public this summer, raising even more money.

But first, Fisker needs to get its inaugural car out and bring its first revenues in. Fisker is supposed to launch the Karma to dealerships for demonstrations in May or June and then to customers in June or July. The launch of the Karma has been pushed back from late 2009 to late 2010 and now to summer 2011. Fiskeralso bumped up the price of the Karma in December to $95,900 as the baseline price and $103,900 and $108,900 for the Eco Sport and Eco Chic lines, respectively.

The launch of Fisker’s Karma comes at a difficult time for Tesla, the other electric auto startup. Tesla is stopping manufacturing of its inaugural electric car, the Roadster, and it won’t launch its second car until mid- to late 2012. Fisker’s Project Nina could also come out around the same time as Tesla’s second electric sedan, the Model S.

Image courtesy of Karma

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  1. Nina is likely to be delayed too especially since they are just hiring more people now. I’m not sure Tesla has too worry too much about the competition and anyway these are all low production numbers of cars aren’t they?

    1. You are correct. There is not any chance that Fiskar, which has already missed numerous deadlines on its first car, will be shipping its second car when Model S starts shipping in just over a year.

      Quite frankly, while I’m sure Tesla is aware of Fiskar as everyone in the industry is, but I can’t imagine the Tesla folks are especially concerned or interested in them. The Karma is almost totally irrelevant to anything Tesla will be selling for the next several years and the Nina will ship when it ships — by which time Model S will be around 20k annual production, and almost certainly selling out.

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