Fisker Automotive said Tuesday that it has landed an additional $85 million to keep to its plans to start producing its luxury plug-in hybrid car, the Karma, by late 2009.

The money from investment consortium Eco-Drive (Capital) Partners and existing investor Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers brings the Irvine, Calif.-based electric car startup's total investment to roughly $178 million, according to previous funding announcements.

The company raised $3 million last month and raised $65 million in September in a C round led by an affiliate of the Qatar Investment Authority (see Fisker Raises Fistfuls of Cash). The company has previously raised $25 million, CNET reported.

That puts Fisker close behind rival Tesla Motors in the funding race. Tesla, which now sells the all-electric, $109,000 Roadster and hopes to bring a lower-priced model to market by 2011, had raised about $147 million as of November, when it raised another $40 million in loans from previous investors amidst financial troubles (see Musk: Tesla Hit by Market ‘Freefall').

Fisker plans to have its first $87,900 Karma models coming off the manufacturing line in late 2009, with customer deliveries set to start in spring of 2010, spokesman Russell Datz said Tuesday (see Fisker Preps Its Production Car).

Valmet Automotive, a Finnish manufacturer that also produces the Porsche Boxster and Porsche Cayman, will assemble the Karma. Fisker hopes to build about 7,500 Karmas next year and increase that to about 15,000 cars per year in 2011, Datz said.

So far the company has taken about 1,300 deposits of $5,000 each from prospective Karma buyers, he said. Despite the struggles automakers are facing amidst the global economic meltdown, Fisker remains confident that its vehicles will be well received, he added (see Showing Off Green Cars Amid Economic Gloom). 

If the recession lifts in mid-2010, as some analysts are predicting, "Our cars will just be coming on line in numbers, and the pent-up demand for cars will work to our advantage," he said.

In the meantime, Fisker also is seeking a low-interest loan from the Department of Energy to help bring new, less expensive plug-in hybrid models to market, Datz said.

He wouldn't reveal how much money Fisker has asked for, nor any prospective prices or performance points Fisker would aim at with cheaper models.

Fisker is one of several automakers – including Tesla and Detroit's Big Three automakers – looking to DOE's $25 billion Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program (ATVM) for aid.

Tesla, for one, is seeking $350 million to build a factory for its second electric car model, the $57,499 sedan Model S, for production in 2011, as well as another $100 million for powertrain manufacturing (see Tesla Coughs Up Sedan Price, Details on Economy Car).

Tesla hopes to see funds allocated within weeks, spokeswoman Rachel Konrad said last month (see BrightSource, Tesla Expect Fed Loans Soon).

As for Fisker's plans for a lower-end, plug-in hybrid model, if it receives DOE loans this year, "We would probably be able to get it to market in less than 30 months," Datz said. "Without it, you're looking at much longer than that."

Eventually Fisker plans to built or retrofit a U.S. facility to build its future models, he said.

At the same time it is accepting investment, Fisker is making investments in its own battery supplier, Advanced Lithium Power Inc.. The $4 million investment came last month from Fisker and Quantum Technologies, which provided its Q-Drive powertrain concept to Fisker and holds stakes in both companies.