Orange County Business Journal

Fisker Links With Penske in Arizona

Chris Casacchia Thursday, June 7, 2012

Fisker Automotive Inc. is partnering with Penske Automotive Group to market and service its flagship Karma in Arizona, the Anaheim-based company announced Thursday.

The pact with the nation’s second-largest publicly traded auto retailer provides Fisker an entrée to the affluent Scottsdale market and brings its independent retail network in the U.S., Canada and Europe to 80 locations.

The south Scottsdale location is Fisker’s 48th U.S. outlet and comes on the heels of an expansion into Canada with a dealership in Montreal, Quebec.

Fisker’s luxury sedan features an advanced powertrain that combines an electric motor with a gas-powered engine with a base price of $103,000.

Penske, a unit of Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based Penske Corp., owns and operates 336 auto dealerships, including about 150 in the U.S. It trails only Florida’s AutoNation Inc. among publicly-traded dealer groups.

Fisker continues to expand its dealerships network and sales despite a rash of negative press since it began selling the Karma late last year. Last month it announced it had sold more than 1,000 Karmas, bringing in more than $100 million in revenue through April 30.

The company also said it has secured $174 million in private investments so far this year.

Fisker’s setbacks in the last six months include production delays, a recall and software glitches.

It missed some milestones tied to a $529 million loan from the U.S. Energy Department. Fisker has received $193 million of the loan, according to the company, with the remaining $336 million subject to renegotiation.

Fisker is the first company to debut a vehicle under the federal government’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program, and it’s taken a barrage of criticism from industry bloggers, company watchers and some politicians bemoaning government subsidies to the clean technology sector.

In May, the company pushed back production of its newly named Atlantic model to 2014, with a roll-out extended to 2015, according to company documents. The Atlantic is expected to sell for about $50,000 and is widely seen as a make or break model for Fisker and a bellwether for the electric-car industry.

Late last week Fisker denied numerous media reports it had issued another recall on the Karma. The company said the documents it filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration related to misaligned hose clamps on its battery pack that affected 19 cars in use.

That same problem caused the company to voluntarily recall 239 Karmas earlier this year.

Investors looked past the Fisker partnership, sending Penske shares down more than 1% on Thursday to a market value of about $2.1 billion.