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Fisker Bags $85M to Build Plug-in Hybrid Karma

Fisker Automotive is rounding the bend on production of its first vehicle, the luxury plug-in hybrid Fisker Karma. A Department of Energy loan still hangs in the balance for a lower-cost model, but the Irvine, Calif.-based startup has just announced $85 million in new venture capital to help develop and manufacture the $87,900 Karma sports car.


Fisker said in its announcement that it remains on track to begin production by the end of this year. Given that the company doesn’t plan to build or refurbish its own factory (one of the hurdles for rival startup Tesla Motors in producing its Model S sedan) for the first generation of Karmas, Fisker may be able to move fairly quickly into production. Although Fisker has said it eventually wants to set up manufacturing in the U.S., the company has signed on Valmet Automotive to assemble the Karma in Finland, at least initially.

To be sure, challenges could still arise before the Karma makes it into showrooms, and Fisker is hardly immune to the ills of the larger auto industry. Fisker’s technology partner, Quantum Technologies (s QTWW) (developing the Karma drivetrain) is feeling the strain of plummeting demand in the auto industry, and especially General Motors (s GM), a key customer.

Kleiner Perkins and the European-American investment group Eco Drive Capital Partners joined this round, the fourth-largest in Fisker’s two years of existence. Just last month, Fisker added $3 million (to secure an exclusive supply of battery technology from Advanced Lithium Power) to the $65 million the company raised back in September. This latest round brings the company’s fundraising to some $185 million.

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