Venture investors apparently can’t get enough of Fisker Automotive Inc., which recently began production of its luxury plug-in hybrid sedan called Karma.
Only about two months after raising $190 million, Fisker confirmed with VentureWire that it raised another $100 million in Series C funding.
“I don’t think we needed it,” said Roger Ormisher, the company’s spokesman. “There was more on offer.
“It gives us enough money to fully execute both the Karma and the new project Nina,” said Ormisher, adding that there’s also “a good cushion for executing our business plan.”
That’s roughly the same thing Ormisher said when the company raised $190 million in March, when he told VentureWire: “We were offered additional funding. Obviously it was worthwhile in terms of additional cushion.”
New individuals and venture firms came in, but Ormisher declined to name them. Investors in the company include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, New Enterprise Associates, A123 Systems Inc., Palo Alto Investors, Qatar Investment Authority and Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide.
The Irvine, Calif.-based company started a limited production of Karma in March. The company plans to produce 15,000 Karmas annually, but it’s not clear at what point it hopes to reach this level of production. The company increased the price of the car–each Karma will cost $95,900, a price that’s 19% higher than originally proposed–and delayed its release, after originally promising to start selling in mid-2009.
In February, when VentureWire reported Fisker had closed on $150 million of the $190 million Series B round at a $600 million pre-money valuation, the company said it had enough capital to launch its first car and manufacture the second line, a cheaper sedan called Nina that will cost from $35,000 to $50,000.
A123 Systems, which is supplying batteries to the Karma, projected revenue of $210 million to $225 million for 2011, of which about 47% will come from Fisker, according to analyst Dilip Warrier, at investment bank Stifel Nicolaus & Co. The production of Fisker cars is due to pick up soon.
In a recent interview Ray Lane, managing partner at Kleiner Perkins, said, “Fisker will go public.”
Fisker is up against a number of competitors in the race to build a widely adopted electric vehicle, from large automakers like General Motors Corp. and Nissan Motor Co., to start-ups like Tesla Motors Inc., Coda Holdings Inc. and Think Global.
COMMENTARY: I have profiled Fisker Automotive on January 19, 2010 and February 22, 2011, and was very impressed with the design of their Karma, their luxury hybrid electric sports car. They compete against Tesla Motors and their Roadster, the Model S, a luxury sedan which is going into production in late 2012.
Fisker Automotive is really going to find it difficult to sell 15,000 Karma's at $95,000+. Tesla Motors, sold over 1,500 of their Roadsters, but is discontinuing the Roadster, and the last one will be produced in the middle of 2011. However, I am glad to see that Fisker is coming out with a lower priced sedan, the Nina.
Tesla appears to have finally cleared the major hurdles in getting cars out the door, but the biggest challenge may still be looming. Henrik Fisker hasn't sold a single car yet, but he intends to build his products right in Tesla's niche.
Here's a comparision of Tesla Motors versus Fisker Automotive:
CEO Elon Musk - He's been called an egomaniac, but if you'd made nearly $200 million on Web startups by your early thirties, you'd probably think a lot of yourself, too. Not content just selling cars, Musk is also in the rocket-building business.
Current Car: Roadster $110,950 (will no longer be produced after July, 2011)
Future Car: Model S sedan, $57,400
U.S. Dealers: 9. Aiming for a consistent look and service, all stores are owned by Tesla.
Industry Connections: Daimler recently bought a 10% stake and will use the Roadster's batteries in the electric Smart.
# of cars Sold to date: 1,500+
Over The Top: Tesla's Roadster 2.0 Sport does 0 to 60 mph in a claimed 3.7 seconds.
Star POWER: George Clooney bought one of the first 100 Teslas.
$$$ from the Feds (D.O.E. loans): $465m
CEO Henrik Fisker - The Danish designer enjoyed a successful career with BMW, Aston Martin, and Ford before going solo in 2005. After two years reskinning production vehicles and working as a consultant, he founded Fisker Automotive.
Current Car: Karma $95,000+
Future Car: Nina sedan, $47,400
Powertrain: Plug-in hybrid
U.S. Dealers: 42. Traditional dealership franchising has allowed Fisker to stake out more territory faster.
Industry Connections: Fisker purchased GM's Wilmington, Delaware, plant for future production of its Nina sedan.
# of cars Sold to date: 0
Over The Top: The Karma's top-end trim, called EcoChic,features an animal-free interior.
Star POWER: Al Gore reportedly wants to be one of the first Karma owners.
$$$ from the Feds (D.O.E. loans): $528.7m
Shortly after delivering a design for Tesla's Model S sedan, Henrik Fisker announced his own high-dollar green car, the Fisker Karma. Tesla sued, saying that Fisker stole ideas and trade secrets, then sold Tesla an inferior design. The suit was eventually thrown out, and Fisker was awarded $1,144,385.03 in attorneys' fees and costs, but that hasn't quenched the growing rivalry between these two eco-luxury-sport startups.
Courtesy of an article dated May 12, 2011 appearing in The Wall Street Journal's Venture Capital Dispatch