Electric car maker Fisker Automotive, which finally began delivering its first plug-in electric hybrid car this summer, has begun promoting its second model in earnest as well. On Thursday the company announced that its next car, dubbed “Project Nina,” will come with engines and other parts by auto giant BMW.
Under an agreement, BMW will provide a 4-cylinder turbocharged engine, Fisker said. If production plans go as anticipated, BMW could ship up to 100,000 engines per year for the Project Nina car. Fisker, based in Anaheim, Calif., expects to start assembling Project Nina in its Wilmington, Del., plant at the end of 2012, with sales beginning in 2013.
When Fisker first talked publicly about Project Nina in 2009, it said the plan was to make a car that is more affordable than its Karma, which starts at $95,900 for the base model. The company hasn’t revealed the pricing for Nina, but its executives and investors have talked about wanting to sell Nina at closer to $50,000.
Nina will be a “mid-size premium sedan,” Fisker said. It will feature the company’s EVer (electric vehicle with extended range) technology, which can deliver up to 50 miles per charge. After that, the gasoline engine kicks in to generate more electricity to run the electric motors. The company’s website says the gasoline engine for the Karma can continue to power the car for 250 miles. Fisker has yet to disclose the performance specs for Nina.
Government help has made it possible for Fisker to roll out the Karma and develop Nina. 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 the company has planned to have the plant cranking out 75,000 to 100,000 vehicles a year by 2014.
Fisker previously aimed to be profitable by 2011. Meeting that goal seems unlikely, though. The company began delivering the Karma to customers only a few weeks ago. The second production car went to Ray Lane of Kleiner Perkins, which has invested in Fisker. The carmaker has raised over $1 billion in equity, loans and grants, and it will need more money to scale up production of its cars. The company is likely follow the path of Tesla Motors to raise capital through an IPO.
Fisker wants to sell Nina globally. The company said sales for both the Karma and Nina will likely be 40 percent in U.S., 40 percent in Europe and 20 percent in Asia.
If all goes according to plan, Nina will arrive around the time when Tesla will roll out the Model S, an all-electric sedan that will start at $57,400 for the base model. Other carmakers that have launched electric sedans include General Motors, which rolled out the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt late last year. Nissan is selling the all-electric car the LEAF. Ford is due to launch the Electric Focus later this year (price unknown).
Coda Automotive, another American electric car startup, plans to launch its first model later this year. Like Tesla and Fisker, Coda has also delayed the delivery of its first model.