Fisker Automotive has had a tough year, making the news for everything from recalls to presidential politics – Mitt Romney called the company a "loser" during the debates – to a car catching on fire to Justin Bieber chroming his Karma plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and then getting paparazzi involved in a crash as they chased after him.
A lot of this was not the company's fault. Who can control Bieber, after all, or what gets said in the heat of a campaign? Also, the fire was not due to the advanced plug-in hybrid powertrain in the Karmas, but was instead the fault of a shoddy cooling fan. But still, the problems piled up. Now there's a new one.
Add the oldest state in the union to the list of who Fisker might owe money to if expansion plans for its extended-range plug-in vehicles fall through. California-based Fisker, which at one time planned to open a factory in Delaware for production of the Atlantic PHEV by the end of this year, could owe the state $21.5 million (in the form of a repaid grant and loan) if those plans never materialize, Delaware Online reports.
Fisker, which had said the plant would employ about 2,500 workers at the factory, would owe $12.5 million if the automaker hires between 1,500 and 2,500 people, and another $9 million if Fisker doesn't hit the 1,500-worker quota. The latest news is that Fisker could start production on the Atlantic in 2014 or 2015, but where and when, exactly, has not been announced.
Either way, Fisker's obligation to Delaware would come after the company repaid the approximately $200 million it owes the US government. This money is part of a Department of Energy loan that was initially slated to be $529 million had Fisker hit certain production deadlines and targets for its first model, the Karma. Those didn't happen, and now a problem with an important supplier continues to hold things up. Fisker production is frozen while bankrupt battery supplier A123 Systems clears up its ownership situation. Earlier this month, the China-based Wanxiang Group reached an agreement through the Delaware bankruptcy court to buy A123 Systems, though that agreement is being scrutinized by some members of Congress over the potential leakage of US trade secrets to China. Johnson Controls isn't done with the deal, either.