Fisker Automotive targets 2011 profit

FRANKFURT Wed Sep 16, 2009 4:18pm EDT

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Fisker Automotive Inc, a builder of luxury plug-in hybrids, aims to make a profit in 2011 when its first vehicle, called the Karma, is expected to hit annual sales of 15,000 units, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

The privately held start-up is preparing now for the production launch of the Karma, a four-door luxury sedan that has a starting price of $87,900. The vehicle will be built in Finland by Valmet Automotive.

Founder and Chief Executive Henrik Fisker told Reuters at the Frankfurt Motor Show it has already received 1,400 orders for the Karma, which is slated to hit showrooms globally in June 2010.

The company has signed up 45 dealers in the United States and is now talking with dealership groups in Europe with the goal of setting up 50 retail franchises in the region by the first quarter of next year, Fisker said.

"Our break-even point would be 5,000 units for the Karma project," he said. "We expect to sell 15,000 units annually from 2011 and become profitable sometime that year."

The California-based automaker also plans to launch a lower-cost, high-volume plug-in hybrid car in 2012. It has applied for U.S. Department of Energy loans in order to support the development of the car.

Fisker said the lower-cost hybrid will sell for $39,900. The company is looking at several closed assembly plants in the United States for a potential site to build about 100,000 vehicles annually, he added.

Carmakers around the globe are rushing to roll out affordable all-electric vehicles in response to stepped-up consumer concerns about volatile gasoline prices and vehicles' emissions of climate-warming greenhouse gases.

German luxury carmaker Daimler AG (DAIGn.DE) paid about $50 million in May for a 10 percent stake in Tesla Motors, another California start-up, expanding its presence in the growing market for low- and zero-emissions cars.

Fisker said the automaker has no plans to partner with a major automaker in the near future.

"We talked with several companies but decided to stay independent. We have sufficient capital to launch the Karma," Fisker said.

(Reporting by Soyoung Kim, editing by Dave Zimmerman)

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