Electric car maker Fisker lays off workers as government freezes loan

Electric car maker Fisker Automotive, which was given $528.7 million loan by the US government for developing affordable, fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid electric cars, yesterday laid off 26 workers at its plant and cut 40 contract jobs at its headquarters.

California-based Fisker, backed by venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Palo Alto Investors and the Qatar Investment Authority, eliminated 26 jobs and suspended work at its Wilmington, Delaware plant after the US Department of Energy (DoE) froze its conditional loan.

"We have temporarily delayed work at the plant based on ongoing discussions with the DOE regarding funding for the Project Nina program. As a result, we have laid-off 26 people," the company said in a statement.

The $528.7-million low-interest loan was given by the DoE from its $25-billion programme established in 2008 to fund development of alternative vehicles as well as meet the country's stringent fuel efficiency standards.

Fisker received $193 million of the loan so far, most of which was used for bringing out its first vehicle, the $102,000 plug-in hybrid sportscar Karma.

Fisker's Delaware plant, acquired from General Motors in October 2008, is expected to manufacture its next-generation plug-in hybrids called Project Nina, which will use $336 million of the remaining federal loan.