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Fisker lays off workers, wants to renegotiate federal loan

By Jerry Hirsch, Los Angeles Times –

LOS ANGELES — Fisker Automotive Inc. has stopped work at a former General Motors auto plant in Delaware where it plans to build Project Nina, a family-size plug-in hybrid that is expected to sell for about $50,000.

The Anaheim, Calif.-based auto company laid off 26 workers at the plant and let go 40 contract employees working at its headquarters. That leaves the company with about 600 employees working on automotive development in Anaheim.

The company said it “delayed work at the plant based on ongoing discussions” with the Department of Energy “regarding funding for the Project Nina program.”

The agency is withholding loans for the Nina project because Fisker missed milestones in getting its first vehicle, the Karma sports car, to market.

It hit showrooms in December, about three months later than the company had committed to in its loan agreement, according to Fisker officials. Fisker has delivered 250 of the $103,000 Karmas, a high-powered hybrid.

Fisker said that it still plans to launch the Nina in 2013, but that could be delayed because “it can take some time to renegotiate to the DOE’s satisfaction the new milestones and goals,” said Fisker spokesman Roger Ormisher.

Fisker has received $193 million of the $529 million loan, and most of that money was spent to developing the Karma.

The automaker is renegotiating the terms for the $336 million balance of the loan, money that would be earmarked for Nina development.

Fisker is a startup car company working on the development of plug-in hybrid vehicles that can run on just electricity and also on a combination of electric and gasoline power to extend the range of the autos.

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