Fisker Squirrels Away $3M Amid Economic Winter

Updated with comment from Fisker Automotive The government isn’t the only one throwing bones to startups these days: private investors have just put a few more chips on luxury plug-in sportscar startup Fisker Automotive, adding $3 million to the $65 million round that the company raised back in September, VentureWire reports (subscription required). While this new investment represents a small portion of the luxury plug-in hybrid maker’s overall capital — the company has raised some $100 million since its founding in 2007 — it is all the more notable for coming in a time when credit markets have all but slammed shut, leaving many startups and automakers turning to government funds.

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Fisker, too, has applied for low-interest federal loans through the Department of Energy, saying they would allow the company to jumpstart work on a lower-cost model.

That’s not what the Series C money is for. Fisker said in September that the round would be used to finish development of the startup’s first vehicle, the $87,900 plug-in hybrid Fisker Karma. A new investor, an affiliate of Qatar Investment Authority, led the round, joining return investor Kleiner Perkins. This time around, VentureWire reports that investors listed in the company’s filing with the SEC include Kleiner, Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies (a Fisker affiliate), Al Gharaffa Investment Co., Palo Alto Investors, and Thomas Lloyd Capital. Fisker did not return VentureWire’s requests for comment. We have contacted Fisker and will update this post if and when we hear from the company. Update: Fisker spokesperson Russell Datz tells us the $3 million reported today will “go only toward a partial stake in a battery company in order to secure exclusive supply of battery technology.” He called the deal a “a strategic investment between Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Fisker Automotive in a battery supplier, which will be named shortly.” We’ll share more details when we have them.

Since raising that $65 million last fall, the Irvine, Calif.-based startup has progressed toward its goal of delivering Karmas to customers by the end of this year. Fisker has unveiled plans to use a four-cylinder engine from General Motors for the Karma and started building up a dealer network. In November, Fisker finalized plans for Valmet Automotive of Finland to assemble the Karma when it reaches full-scale production — about 1,200 vehicles a month, as AutoblogGreen reports — by mid-2010.

When Earth2Tech editor Katie Fehrenbacher spoke with Fisker founder and CEO Henrik Fisker a year ago, she asked him if he had taken any lessons from Tesla Motors’ mistakes or successes. He replied:

We do not compare ourselves to other startup companies. We believe we are a different type of startup, as all of our people come from the automotive industry and have extensive experience with the automotive industry. We are therefore taking a different approach, knowing how complicated it is to bring a vehicle to the market.

Photo credit Fisker Automotive

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