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Fisker Automotive is the latest example of a greentech startup that has amassed a shockingly large amount of money on the promise of a product that’s still in the pipeline. The company confirmed with me that in a combination of loans, grants and equity, Fisker has raised over $1 billion, (first reported here), and a Fisker spokesperson also tells me the company plans to launch its first electric car, the Karma, to dealerships for demonstrations in May or June and then to customers in June or July.
The launch of Fisker’s inaugural extended-range car has been pushed back from late 2009, to late 2010, now to summer 2011. The company is backed by high-profile venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, NEA, and battery manufacturer A123 Systems (s AONE), among other investors, and Fisker also scored one of the Department of Energy’s coveted green car manufacturing loans of $528.7 million.
Fisker’s funds include a recent round of $150 million in the first quarter of this year, making the car company an example of one of several later-stage greentech companies that received follow-on rounds in the first quarter, giving the first quarter an almost record amount of greentech venture capital deals. However, as investor Neal Dikeman pointed out in an article for us, some weak numbers underlie those high level figures. According to an SEC filing, Fisker has bumped up this latest investment to $190 million.
A few greentech startups have raised similar fund sizes and are looking to launch their inaugural products this year. Like Fisker, solar panel maker Solyndra has raised around $1 billion, which it disclosed in an S-1 in late 2009, when Solyndra was still planning to IPO. But Solyndra has also been selling significant volumes of solar panels for months.
Solyndra ditched those IPO plans in 2010. Fisker, too, has been rumored to IPO, or at least its investors have hinted as such to the media. If Tesla (s TSLA) is any indicator of how well an electric car IPO can do, a Fisker IPO has promise, but in contrast to Tesla, Fisker has yet to launch a car.
Electric car infrastructure company Better Place closed a whopping $350 million round in spring 2010 to help it build out its network of charging and battery swap stations across nations like Israel and Denmark. According to estimates back then, Better Place had raised about $750 million. Better Place plans to launch its Israel network this year.
Will any of these capital-intensive deals be successful? Stay tuned for all the plot twists in “how the greentech world turns,” in 2011.