Electric Carmaker Fisker Automotive Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection

Fisher Automotive, the brainchild of former BMW and Aston Martin designer Henrik Fisker, has filed for bankruptcy protection.  The fledgling Anaheim, California-based electric carmaker also says it has entered into an asset purchase agreement with Hybrid Tech Holdings, LLC.

Despite endorsements by high profile customers including Justin Bieber, Leonardo DiCaprio and Ashton Kutcher, the company’s $100,000 Karma electric model did not achieve the success company executives had hoped for.

The Karma was originally slated to go on sale in late 2009, but the model did not receive EPA certification until October 2011, and production was halted the following summer.

Fisker’s chief restructuring officer Marc Beilinson says, “After having evaluated and pursued all other alternatives, we believe the sale to Hybrid and the related Chapter 11 process is the best alternative for maximizing Fisker Automotive’s value for the benefit of all stakeholders. We believe that the Fisker Automotive technology and product development capability will remain a guiding force in the evolution of the automotive industry under Hybrid’s leadership.”

Despite receiving $192 million in federal loans, the company has faced financial hurdles since its founding in 2007, and last April announced that it was laying off three quarters of its workforce.

A spokesman for Hybrid Tech Holding’s parent company, Hybrid Technology, said the company is “committed to building upon the Fisker legacy and presence in the United States as a foundation for the design and manufacture of advanced hybrid electric vehicles.”

Fisker’s apparent demise will no doubt add fuel to the flames of controversy surrounding the Department of Energy’s financial support of emerging green technology companies.  According to the DOE, it has recovered just $53 million of the $192 million in taxpayer-funded federal loans given to Fisker.

In a statement, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) said, “the administration was warned as far back as 2010 that Fisker was doomed, but it was not until our Solyndra investigation revealed the dysfunction within the loan program that DOE finally took notice and cut off further payments. But still, taxpayers are only recouping 28 cents for every dollar of the $192 million the administration handed out.”

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