Fisker Bags $85M to Build Plug-in Hybrid Karma

Fisker Automotive is rounding the bend on production of its first vehicle, the luxury plug-in hybrid Fisker Karma. A Department of Energy loan still hangs in the balance for a lower-cost model, but the Irvine, Calif.-based startup has just announced $85 million in new venture capital to help develop and manufacture the $87,900 Karma sports car.
Fisker said in its announcement that it remains on track to begin production by the end of this year. Given that the company doesn’t plan to build or refurbish its own factory (one of the hurdles for rival startup Tesla Motors in producing its Model S sedan) for the first generation of Karmas, Fisker may be able to move fairly quickly into production. Although Fisker has said it eventually wants to set up manufacturing in the U.S., the company has signed on Valmet Automotive to assemble the Karma in Finland, at least initially.
To be sure, challenges could still arise before the Karma makes it into showrooms, and Fisker is hardly immune to the ills of the larger auto industry. Fisker’s technology partner, Quantum Technologies (s QTWW) (developing the Karma drivetrain) is feeling the strain of plummeting demand in the auto industry, and especially General Motors (s GM), a key customer.
Kleiner Perkins and the European-American investment group Eco Drive Capital Partners joined this round, the fourth-largest in Fisker’s two years of existence. Just last month, Fisker added $3 million (to secure an exclusive supply of battery technology from Advanced Lithium Power) to the $65 million the company raised back in September. This latest round brings the company’s fundraising to some $185 million.

Why Colin Powell Likes the Fisker Karma: Kleiner

colinpowelltinyThe folks over at AutoBlogGreen have some great photos of former Secretary of State Colin Powell checking out the Fisker Karma at the Washington Auto Show this week — he’s looking under the hood and chatting with Fisker’s CEO. But while Powell is probably a natural gear head in his own right, there’s a bigger connection between Fisker and Powell: the venture firm Kleiner Perkins.

Colin Powell joined Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as a strategic limited partner back in 2005. There was a lot of buzz over his appointment at the time, but since then he hasn’t seemed to offer much of a public face for the firm — and of course, Kleiner now has Al Gore to help with political connections. Kleiner has invested in Fisker Automotive, the maker of the Fisker Karma — reportedly at least $10 million. Anyhoo, just saying. Washington DC and Silicon Valley are pretty chummy these days.


Fisker Eye Candy: Convertible Karma “Sunset” Photos

fisker-karma-s-concept2We noted last month that hybrid car startup Fisker Automotive planned to unveil a concept car called the Fisker Karma S (for “Sunset”) at the Detroit Auto Show. At the time, Fisker had leaked a close-cropped image of a car with an absent B-pillar, suggesting that it might be a convertible. Now that the Sunset has had its debut (revealing a hard-top roof that automatically folds into the trunk), we can give you the big picture. Read More about Fisker Eye Candy: Convertible Karma “Sunset” Photos

Detroit Auto Show: 5 Automakers to Watch

The North American International Auto Show will go light on the glitz and gas guzzlers this year, as exhibitors (two of them fresh from a bailout) seek to demonstrate efficiency, innovation and frugality. Even SUVs — most notably the 30-mpg-highway 2010 Chevy Equinox — are sporting improved fuel economy. With at least seven manufacturers, including Nissan Motor Co. (s nsany) and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., opting out of corporate representation at the Detroit event, smaller startups and new green concepts from established automakers just might steal the show. We’ll be watching to see how these five electric and hybrid vehicle exhibitors perform in the spotlight:

BYD Auto: Chinese battery company BYD made its North American debut at the 2008 Detroit show with its H6 DM hybrid. Over the last year, BYD has entered the green auto race in earnest, thanks in part to a $230 million investment from Warren Buffett, the launch of a plug-in hybrid (the F3DM) earlier this month, and plans to roll out an all-electric car, the e6 (pictured below) in 2009.
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Solar Roof Maker Asola Forms Manufacturing JV

The moon roof was the must-have feature of yesterday, but the necessary automotive accessory of tomorrow could be the solar roof. German Asola, maker of solar power systems for automotive applications (including solar roofs for cars), announced today that it has signed a memorandum of understanding to form a joint venture with Korean electronic and automotive component maker Q&Tech / Yongsan to establish a solar module manufacturing plant in South Korea with an annual capacity of 30 megawatts. The plant will use Asola’s solar production processes and will give Asola a partner that already has strong ties to the auto industry.

Asola is 25 percent owned by Quantum Technologies, an automotive technology developer that has moved away from its gasoline engine pursuits and is now the drivetrain provider for the Karma plug-in hybrid luxury vehicle from Fisker Automotive, in which it is a major stakeholder.

And yes, the Karma will sport a solar roof from Asola, which will power a climate-control system to keep the $80,000 four-door sports car cool when parked in energizing sun, ’cause that leather interior can get hot sitting in a parking lot.
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Christmas remote controlled webcam

Alek’s Christmas Lights Webcam

Use the christmas webcam to view live images of a buncha christmas lights and also CONTROL them – i.e. YOU can turn them ON and OFF via your web browser! The christmas webcam has PAN and ZOOM capability that you can also control. The webcam and webcontrol are ONLY operational between 1800 and 2200 Mountain Time. Each web surfer can only update the webcam 10 times, change the lights 3 times, and play with the pan/zoom 5 times, within 5 minutes – this limits the load on my server/Internet connection and I’m concerned about the christmas webcam being (ab)used too much and the blinking lights bothering the neighbors! 😉