Fisker Automotive announced today that it has laid off approximately 75 percent of its workforce indefinitely, as the troubled automaker attempts to recover from a number of challenges that have kept it from producing any cars since the middle of last year.
The move follows a one week furlough of its entire staff in late March.
In a statement released by an outside crisis management group, as the entire in-house public relations staff was included in the recent round of layoffs, the company said, in part:
“Our efforts to secure a strategic alliance or partnership are continuing in earnest, but unfortunately we have reached a point where a significant reduction in our workforce has become necessary.” The statement added that “the Company regrets having to terminate any of its hardworking and talented people. But this was a necessary strategic step in our efforts to maximize the value of Fisker’s core assets.”
The startup automaker could be forced to file for bankruptcy if it misses a scheduled payment due on April 22nd on part of a total of $529 million in loan guarantees granted to it by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2009.
Fisker was able to draw down only $193 million before the loans were frozen last year due to missed milestones in the roll out of its plug-in hybrid cars. The California automaker has been seeking private investment to make up for the shortfall in funds since then.
Company co-founder and former Chairman Henrik Fisker left the company that bears his name in mid-March after a dispute with management over the financial direction of the company.
Two Chinese automakers once considered frontrunners to take a major stake in Fisker, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group and Dongfeng Motor Corp., have reportedly dropped out of consideration in recent weeks because the terms of the Energy Department loans would require them to build cars at a former General Motors plant in Delaware that was purchased by Fisker with part of the funds.
Fisker’s only current model, the Karma, is produced for the company in Finland by contract manufacturer Valmet. However, it uses batteries produced by A123 Systems, a U.S. firm that went bankrupt last year and has yet to resume production after being purchased by China’s Wanxiang Group in January.
Since sales of the $103,000 sedan began in late 2011, Fisker has delivered approximately 2,000 cars worldwide. Problems with the A123 batteries and a cooling fan led to a pair of costly recalls, and over 300 cars were destroyed at a port in New Jersey when they were submerged during floods caused by Superstorm Sandy, adding to the company’s woes.
A representative at the Fisker dealership in Silicon Valley, Calif., tells FoxNews.com that it is business as usual for sales and service at their location, and that they have yet to hear of any changes from the automaker’s corporate headquarters.