Remember the Fisker/Kleiner Perkins plug-in hybrid mystery car we looked at last week? It turns out that the car, tentatively called "Project NINA", is being funded bigtime by the US Department of Energy, which offered $528 million in loans to develop the lower-priced model ($39,000 after a $7,500 federal tax credit) and the upcoming $87,900 Karma sports car, which has already been pre-ordered by climate change champion Al Gore.
The loan is part of the DOE's $25 billion Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program. Thus far, the government has given $8 billion to companies including Ford, Nissan, and Tesla Motors. The latter received a $465 million loan—nothing to sniff at, but the extra millions give Fisker the upper hand in the neverending Tesla vs. Fisker war.
According to the DOE, Fisker is receiving a hefty sum because Project NINA, named after one of Christopher Columbus's ships, will be built in the United States. The Karma, in contrast, will be built in Finland, with 65% of all car parts coming from the US and engineering work done entirely at Fisker's Michigan headquarters. $169.3 million of the company's loan will go towards completing the Karma, while the rest will be used to develop Project NINA. With so much funding at its fingertips, we can only hope that Fisker delivers on NINA's potential with an attractive and affordable plug-in hybrid for the all the mid-priced car seekers looking to take advantage of EV technology.