You've no doubt seen the bumper sticker "My karma ran over your dogma." Well Fisker Automotive's Karma just ran over battery maker Ener1
The Karma is Henrik Fisker's attempt at bringing the first luxury plug-in hybrid vehicle to market. Fisker has designed some classy cars over the years, including the Aston Martin V8 Vantage and the short-lived BMW Z8. Fisker Automotive has also received a huge DOE loan to, in part, retool an old GM plant and begin production of an affordable plug-in sedan, but the Karma's coming to market first, with an expected rollout in the third quarter. Tesla Motors is following a similar strategy.
Back in May, Ener1 subsidiary EnerDel cut the ribbon on its lithium-ion battery plant in Indianapolis. At the same time, the company announced the signing of a letter of intent to potentially supply batteries to Fisker. This was hailed as great news for the battery maker, as its main business partner, Th!nk Global, is not exactly firing on all cylinders. Last year, Ener1 lent Th!nk money to help bring the company back from the brink of insolvency.
On Wednesday morning we learned that Ener1 and Fisker had broken off talks about supplying the Fisker Karma, though the parties "remain open to exploring possible future business relationships pertaining to other potential Fisker programs." That latter bit provided little consolation for Ener1 investors. The shares got throttled.
That said, I'm not crazy about the firm's financial position. This company is burning cash every quarter. EnerDel did win a $118.5 million stimulus grant, but it needs to match that funding one for one. Where will the money come from if the company doesn't snag a big DOE loan like A123 and Fisker have? The recent funding from Japanese partner Itochu will help smooth things over in the near term, but Ener1 remains a very speculative investment until the firm lands some key contracts. As it goes up against the likes of A123 and Johnson Controls'