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USA: UPDATE 1-Fisker halts US plant to renegotiate govt loan

Feb 6 (Reuters) – Electric car startup Fisker Automotive Inc said on Monday it has suspended work at its U.S. manufacturing plant and laid off 26 workers while it renegotiates the terms of its $529 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The company has received $193 million of the federal loan so far, it said in a statement. Most of those funds have supported the rollout of its first vehicle, a $102,000 plug-in hybrid sportscar called the Karma that was plagued with production delays and a recent recall.

Fisker’s Wilmington, Delaware plant, a former General Motors Co factory, is expected to manufacture the company’s second vehicle, a sedan known as the Nina. The $336 million balance of its DOE loan is intended to fund that car, Fisker said.

A DOE spokesman said the government was working to revise the terms of Fisker’s loan because of the delays in getting the Karma to market.

“Our loan guarantees have strict conditions in place to protect taxpayers. The Department only allows the loan to be disbursed as the company meets certain milestones and demonstrates results,” DOE spokesman Damien LaVera said.

“The Department is working with Fisker to review a revised business plan and determine the best path forward so the company can meet its benchmarks, produce cars and employ workers here in America.”

Energy Department loans and loan guarantees have been under heightened scrutiny from lawmakers since solar panel company Solyndra filed for bankruptcy in September after receiving a $535 million government loan in 2009.



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