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Plug-in car woes: Fisker Delaware plant in doubt

Plug-in car manufacturer Fisker says it may have to look at production sites outside Delaware if it can't get a federal loan. Its new plug-in car, the Atlantic, might be built overseas, the CEO says. 

By Randall ChaseAP Business Writer / April 5, 2012

The Fisker automotive electric Atlantic sedan is seen during its unveiling ahead of the 2012 International Auto Show in New York Tuesday. The plug-in car might not be made in Delaware if federal financing doesn't come through, its CEO says.

Allison Joyce/Reuters

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DOVER, Del.

The chief executive of plug-in car maker Fisker Automotive has signaled that plans to build vehicles at a former General Motors plant in Delaware may be in jeopardy because of trouble obtaining a loan from the federal government.

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At an unveiling of Fisker's second production model in New York on Tuesday, CEO Tom LaSorda said the company may have to look outside Delaware for production of its Atlantic mid-sized sedan if it cannot obtain the planned financing from the Department of Energy.

Delaware economic development director Alan Levin said Wednesday that he was both shocked and disappointed by LaSorda's comments.

"Last night was an interesting revelation," Levin said.

"We've had good communications up until now," he added. "Last night was a surprise."

Gov. Jack Markell also was caught off guard.

"I didn't necessarily expect that to come up last night," said Markell, who put in a call to LaSorda on Wednesday. "Anything that suggests that the car would not be built here I think would be disappointing."

Markell spokesman Brian Selander said LaSorda made clear to Markell that Delaware remains Fisker's first choice, but that the company also is looking at alternatives.

Earlier Wednesday, Fisker spokesman Roger Ormisher downplayed LaSorda's comments, saying Delaware remains the company's first choice to build its plug-in hybrid sedan.

"Were still committed to Delaware, nothing's changed," Ormisher said.

Asked why Fisker did not reach out to Delaware officials before LaSorda's statement, Ormisher suggested there was no reason to do so.

"They've been fully briefed on the situation with Fisker. They know what the situation is," he said.

Fisker announced in February that it was laying off workers in Delaware and California, including about two dozen at the former GM plant near Wilmington, as it sought to renegotiate its loan agreement with the Department of Energy.

Fisker has received $193 million of the $529 million DOE loan, mostly for work on the Karma, a sports car that is being built in Finland and sells for about $100,000. The introduction of the Karma was delayed because of regulatory issues and battery pack problems that prompted a voluntary safety recall by Fisker.

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