Fisker Automotive and Leonardo DiCaprio today announced that they will work together to promote environmental causes. DiCaprio – an investor in Fisker – will “participate in conversations on the auto manufacturer’s future plans for the advancement of sustainable, responsible vehicles.”
In July of 2011, DiCaprio received the first Fisker Karma electric vehicle. He will work with Fisker on marketing and promotional initiatives aimed at bringing attention to sustainability and environmental awareness. Fisker, in turn, will support the charitable work of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation around the globe, although details are lacking.
The Karma model is now sold through 48 outlets in North America, and will soon be distributed for the first time in China and the Middle East, following new retail sales agreements just signed.
New marketing aspects of the Karma now include reclaimed and recycled interior wood trim from either California wildfires or the depths of Lake Michigan; animal-free interiors on the most expensive Eco Chic model; the world’s largest solar panel roof; and “Diamond Dust” paint that uses flakes of recycled glass.
The Karma sedan has more than twice the economy (54 MPGe) and creates about half the emissions (169g CO2/mi) compared to what Fisker says are competitive luxury cars. U.S. pricing starts at $103,000, not including a $7,500 federal income tax credit and other local incentives – subsidized by taxpayers, or what critics call socialism for the rich.
Fisker was the recipient of a controversial taxpayer-subsidized $529 million loan from the Department of Energy in 2010 as part of an abortive federal government effort to prod development of so-called advanced-technology vehicles and create jobs. Part of the loan was for using a closed General Motors plant in Wilmington, Delaware – the home state of vice president Joe Biden – to build the small compact car, then code named Nina. Fisker says that about one-third of the total loan amount – $190 million – was used mostly for Fisker Karma, which is now in production in Finland.
Ultimately, Fisker was unable to meet the deadlines imposed by DOE and the rest of the loan was put on hold last May. This was after the DOE program came under attack because of the collapse of solar panel maker Solyndra and the demonstrably dubious prospects of other loans and loan applicants under what is arguably a failed stimulus package from the ‘no jobs’ Obama Administration.
Fisker, which has never earned a profit since its 2007 inception, says it is now pursuing both private equity and the resumption of government financing. However, the private money raised thus far is apparently not enough to keep the company building the Karma in Finland (hardly any U.S. job creation there), invest in the Atlantic, aka Nina, and earn a profit.
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