Fisker Automotive, the VC-funded extended-range electric vehicle maker, has crossed the $1 billion mark in investment. The struggling plug-in hybrid automaker has raised $392 million in a financing round that's aiming for $500 million in new investment, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That's $129 million in new investment since February, when Fisker said it had raised $263 million of a planned $300 million round.

The new investment from Advanced Equities comes amidst a set of struggles for the startup, including two recalls and news of stalled production of its high-end Karma plug-in hybrid sports car. It also comes amidst news of trouble for Advanced Equities -- co-founders Keith Daubenspeck and Dwight Badger may face federal enforcement action related to a 2009 private offering, according to Crain's Chicago Business.

The company has had its share of challenges of late, including:

  • The company has stopped work at its Delaware Project Nina plant and laid off 66 workers, and is renegotiating its $529 million Department of Energy loan amidst news that it has been blocked from accessing the money since May.
  • Fisker has struggled to deliver on its Karma, with only 600 vehicles sent to dealers and another 1,200 in the pipeline. At the same time, its DOE loan was made conditional on the company delivering a cheaper mass-market model built in the United States, and not produced by Finnish contract manufacturer Valmet, as today’s Karma models are.
  • Fisker has issued a recall for the Karma for a battery problem. Autoblog reported last month that Consumer Reports had its anonymously purchased Karma break down during calibration tests, before they even had a chance to test-drive it.
  • Co-founder Henrik Fisker was moved to the role of Executive Chairman of the firm, while Tom LaSorda was appointed as CEO and Vice Chairman of the Board last month. LaSorda was formerly CEO, President and Vice Chairman of the Chrysler Group and has also held executive positions at General Motors. Ray Lane, former Chairman of the Board, will take a "lead director role," according to a press release from the firm.


Fisker’s Project Nina plant is also backed by $21 million in Delaware state loans. Fisker bought the site in late 2009, started hiring workers in July and had hired about 100 people as of late 2011. The recent layoffs included about 26 Delaware employees and about 40 at its headquarters. Making cars is expensive, and Fisker must prove it can control those costs as it moves from contract manufacturing collectors' items to building mass-market cars on its own. In that sense, its rival is Tesla Motors and that company's Model S sedan -- but it’s also fighting against auto giants like Nissan, GM and all the rest. Having its first U.S. factory put on hold can’t be reassuring to would-be investors in its hoped-for IPO.

Fisker has previously raised about $850 million in private capital from investors including Kleiner Perkins and A123. That includes $260 million in 2011, most recently with a $150 million round launched in November.


Eric Wesoff contributed to this article.