A DOE blog post from last night announced that it was "auctioning the remainder of Fisker’s loan obligation" so as to provide "the best possible recovery for the taxpayer" on its failed loan to the luxury car maker (this news was spotted by GigaOm).
The GovSales auction will be held on October 11 for "the future advance promissory notes issued by Fisker Automotive, Inc. in connection with a secured loan under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Program in respect of which approximately $168,000,000 is outstanding," according to the auction site. The full conditional loan was $528 million of which $192 million was drawn down. Any buyer has to demonstrate domestic job or manufacturing creation.
The DOE post states:
After exhausting any realistic possibility for a sale that might have protected our entire investment, the Department announced today that we are auctioning the remainder of Fisker’s loan obligation, offering the best possible recovery for the taxpayer. Consistent with the intent and statutory purpose of the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program, the Department will require all bids to include a commitment and business plan that promotes domestic manufacturing capabilities and related engineering for advanced technology vehicles here in the United States.
Early on, Fisker Automotive looked very promising -- raising more than $1.2 billion from leading private sector investors who believed in the company and its business plan, and also attracting strong support from both Republicans and Democrats. Fisker acquired a manufacturing plant in Delaware and performed extensive design and engineering work at its headquarters in California, but the company was never able to begin production at the Delaware facility.
The post goes on to make the argument for its Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program:
Even after accounting for all possible losses on the Fisker loan, expected losses to date only represent about 2 percent of our overall loan program portfolio of approximately $34 billion -- and less than 10 percent of the loan loss reserve Congress set aside for the program.
The Department also highlighted its loan portfolio successes at Tesla, Ford, and Nissan North America.
GTM recently reported that Wanxiang Group, China's largest auto parts supplier, had joined with former vice-chairman of GM Robert Lutz to make an offer for venture-backed electric hybrid car builder Fisker. (Lutz led the development of the extended-range plug-in Volt at Chevrolet.)
Lutz and partner Gilbert Villarreal had launched the VL Destino at the Detroit Car Show earlier this year. The Destino mates the Fisker shell with the drivetrain of a Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. It reportedly sells for $180,000 compared to the Fisker's $110,000 original price tag.
Wanxiang recently purchased A123 Systems, the bankrupt lithium-ion battery maker that supplied batteries for the Fisker Karma. Wanxiang intends to keep A123's grid battery business alive in the form of A123 Energy Solutions, a division which has already deployed in excess of 100 megawatts in grid projects from Hawaii to Chile.
Fisker raised nearly $1.2 billion in private investment since its 2007 founding from investors including KPCB and NEA, as well as now-defunct investment firm Advanced Equities. Fisker's $1.2 billion in private investment makes it one of the largest VC-funded implosions in history. Around 1,500 Karma models have been sold to date, but Fisker has not built a car since last July.
The auto industry news website Jalopnik wrote that the Fisker has "an interior the size of a Geo Metro, build quality that has a real Pyongyang sort of charm, and, of course, a crippling lack of money. But holy crap, is that a pretty car." Jalopnik suggested that Fisker abandon any pretense of battery power and just put an internal combustion engine in the beautiful body of the Fisker.