Washington, D.C. – Hybrid manufacturer Fisker Automotive has received a US$528.7 million loan from the Department of Energy for the development and production of two lines of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV).

The loan will support the Karma, a full-size four-door sports sedan, and a line of family-oriented models being developed under the company’s Project NINA program.

Fisker, a startup based in southern California, expects to manufacture the vehicles at a recently-shuttered General Motors factory in Wilmington, Delaware, employing 2,000 assembly workers. The company expects annual sales of up to 115,000 vehicles when it reaches full production in 2015.

Initially, Fisker will use the proceeds of the loan for qualifying engineering integration costs as it works primarily with U.S. suppliers to incorporate components into the Karma’s design. Engineering integration work will be conducted in Irvine, California, where engineers will design tools and equipment and develop manufacturing processes.

The Karma is scheduled to appear in showrooms in late 2010. The second stage will involve the purchase and retooling of the former GM plant to manufacture the NINA PHEVs, which are expected to begin production in late 2012.

Both the Karma and Project NINA models will have an all-electric range of 25 to 30 km on a full charge, and using gas and electric power, have a cruising range of up to 186 km.

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