Fisker Juice for Electric Cars and Scooters
Investors, including the U.S. government, are placing their bets in the race to develop electric cars.
In latest weeks, Fisker Automotive Inc., of Irvine, Calif., increased $115.3 million in a round of equity financing that could reach $150 million. Fisker needs the funds to close on a $529 million low-cost loan from the U.S. Department of Energy. Coda Automotive Inc. of Santa Monica, Calif., meanwhile, raised $25 million as part of a new round of capital.
Fisker speaks the public and personal money will agree it to totally finance production of a luxury plug-in hybrid electric car, the Karma, and hold up the engineering and manufacturing of a family car, a plug-in hybrid slated for 2012.
The firms participating in Fisker's latest financing round were Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, lithium-ion battery technology developer A123 Systems Inc. and Ace Investments, a Hong Kong investment firm associated with Richard Li, the chairman and executive director of PCCW Ltd., the Hong Kong-based telecommunications company.
Fisker's long-term business plan calls for an additional $50 million in equity funding annually. The company expects to reach profitability in 2011, the first full year of production of the Karma, says Ray Lane, a partner at Kleiner Perkins.
Coda Automotive, meanwhile, is aiming to be the first company with an all-electric five-passenger vehicle on the market when it rolls out its car, the Coda, this fall.
The company brought in Swiss firm Aeris Capital AG as a new investor in the latest round of financing, a Series C. Coda expects to cap the round at $55 million, according to Chief Financial Officer Dan Mosher.
Other investors in the firm include Miles Rubin, co-chairman and founder of Miles Electric Vehicles; Los Angeles-based private equity firm Angeleno Group; and Steven "Mac" Heller, a retired investment banker who spent 20 years at Goldman Sachs and is co-chairman of Coda, an offshoot of Miles Electric Vehicles.
Investors may be enthusiastic, but consumer interest in these vehicles will be tested by high price tags. Fisker's Karma will sell for at least $87,900, while the planned family car will retail for around $48,000 before consumer tax incentives. The Coda will sell for $45,000.
The high cost of electric vehicles has some investors focusing instead on a cheaper alternative: electric scooters, which are widely used in the developing world.
Zhejiang Zhongtai Vehicle Manufacturer Co., a light vehicle and scooter manufacturer in Wuyi, China, recently raised 60 million yuan (about $8.8 million) from Cybernaut (China) Investment, a Chinese venture-capital firm.
Min Li, a Hong Kong-based analyst with Yuanta Securities (Hong Kong) Ltd., says that sales of electric scooters and bikes may be a key to tackling emissions problems in China's populous and poorer second- and third-tier cities.
"It's a segment that's growing much faster than other electric vehicles," Mr. Li says.
The Jet Set
United Technologies Corp.'s Pratt & Whitney unit won a $110 million tax credit from the U.S. Department of Energy for production of a new, fuel-efficient jet engine that Sterne Agee & Leach Group Inc. analyst Nicholas Heymann says will be the first of its kind on the market.
The Pratt & Whitney award, along with an $11.9 million credit given to General Electric Co.'s aviation division, illustrates the importance of improved efficiency in jet engines, analysts and officials at the two companies say.
"Energy efficiency is a huge focus in the jet-propulsion world, and that's why we're spending $1 billion a year in engine technologies, which are largely focused on energy efficiency," says Rick Kennedy, a spokesman for GE Aviation.
Something Else Is New:
Here's a look at additional latest agreements reported by Clean Technology Insight
Silver Spring Networks secured $100 million in a new round of financing to enlarge its smart-grid industry in the U.S. and overseas. Smart-grid companies supply technologies to assist buyers use energy more efficiently.
Bridgelux Inc., a manufacturer of light-emitting diodes, employed William Watkins as chief executive and landed at least $50 million in a latest venture-capital round. Mr. Watkins united Bridgelux from hard-drive manufacturer Seagate Technology LLC.
SunRun Inc., which trades power and leases solar systems to residential customers, increased about $90 million in tax-equity financing from US Bancorp Community Development Corp.
FloDesign Wind Turbine Corp. closed a $34.5 million Series B round of financing to back the maker of its turbines, which are figured similar to airplane turbines.