Quantum Pins Its Hopes on the Fisker Karma

If the electric vehicle is truly going to take off, there are two companies I'm keeping my eye on in the race for high-end dominance. Tesla Motors (Nasdaq: TSLA  ) , will face its first true test when the Model S is released, and soon we'll find out whether an upstart plug-in hybrid vehicle, the Fisker Karma, will get a head start on Tesla.

The Fisker Karma has been on the drawing board for years, and like Tesla's Model S, it has driving enthusiasts chomping at the bit to get a test drive. With production due to start in the second quarter of this year, suppliers can't wait to start filling capacity built for anticipated demand. Battery supplier A123 Systems (Nasdaq: AONE  ) disappointed with its delayed launch, but Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies (Nasdaq: QTWW  ) , one of Fisker's smaller partners and minority owners, had the market jumping on Friday when it spiked 12% higher.

Quantum, which supplies drivetrain technology for Fisker, saw revenue leap 207% to $4.6 million in the fiscal third quarter. Operating loss decreased slightly to $5.8 million, but the company's keeping its eye on the impending launch of the Fisker Karma and improving results going forward.

Fisker is driving results in the short term, and as a co-founder of the company, Quantum has a big role in Fisker's future. The company's Q-Drive technology will be included with each Fisker Karma, and Quantum will not only be a supplier, but will also receive royalties on an outlined minimum of 45,000 vehicles under this model.

Quantum has a lot of projects under its belt with auto, aerospace, solar energy and defense, so I just hope it isn't spreading itself too thin in the process. Then again, perhaps throwing projects at the wall to see what sticks is the best plan of action for a small company.

In the short term, we'll keep an eye on the company's balance sheet, which has only $2.5 million in cash, and considering the cash burn, more stock offerings will probably be in the works in coming months. But Quantum is worth keeping an eye on if the Fisker Karma is a smashing success -- something I think is highly likely, considering the pre-launch buzz.

Fool contributor Travis Hoium does not have a position in any company mentioned. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdings or follow his CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw.

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