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Troubled EV maker Fisker closing Manhattan Beach headquarters

The Fisker Ocean SUV, a competitor to Tesla's Model Y, was released last year to mixed reviews.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
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In an effort to stave off bankruptcy, electric-vehicle maker Fisker Inc. is closing its Manhattan Beach headquarters and has secured a $3.5-million lifeline as it continues to explore an acquisition or other strategic alternative.

The troubled company, which had about 300 employees in the 72,000-square-foot offices at the end of March, is moving its remaining workers to an engineering and distribution facility in La Palma in Orange County, said a person familiar with Fisker’s operations who was not authorized to comment.

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In all, the company had roughly 1,135 employees as of mid-April, following an announced 15% cut to its workforce.

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Fisker has been attempting to avoid bankruptcy since March, when it announced that talks over a strategic alliance with a major automaker had ended, squelching a deal that would have given it $150 million in new financing.

That caused its shares to collapse to pennies, prompting the New York Stock Exchange to delist the stock, which violated another debt agreement the company struck with an investor last year, according to a regulatory filing.

A major automaker, said to be Nissan, was reportedly in talks to invest in Fisker. Nissan was considering making the Fisker Alaska truck at a U.S. plant — a deal that would come with a $400-million investment, Reuters first reported. Fisker did not confirm the reports.

Fisker announced this week that it secured a $3.5 million short-term loan, as it continues to operate and sell its midsize Ocean SUV. The note is due June 24 and has the potential to increase to $7.5 million.

The Ocean, a competitor to Tesla’s Model Y, was released last year to mixed reviews; some praised its build and styling, but the car has been plagued by software glitches.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has four investigations into the vehicle, including one opened this month after complaints that the SUV’s automatic emergency braking system randomly triggered.

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Other probes are looking into reports that a door on the Ocean will not open and complaints about a loss of braking performance. The company has said it is working with the regulator.

Fisker said this week that it had added three dealers to its networks in California and New Jersey, which it began building after a plan to sell direct to consumers — like Tesla does — didn’t pan out. It also announced additional price cuts on some Ocean models.

In March, Fisker slashed the price on its entire lineup of 2023 Oceans by more than 30%. The company also said that it had paused production at its contract manufacturing plant in Austria, which produced about 10,200 Oceans last year.

Fisker was founded in 2016 by noted car designer Henrik Fisker, who has said the Ocean was inspired by California. The SUV features a full-length solar roof, an interior composed of “vegan” recycled plastic and a drop-down rear window that can fit a surf board.

Fisker is not the only startup that has been struggling amid a slowdown in the domestic market for electric vehicles and a rise in interest rates.

Rivian Automotive, an Irvine maker of electric trucks, has informed state officials it will lay off more than 120 employees beginning in June. In February, the company announced it was cutting 10% of its workforce. The company’s shares have lost more than half of their value since last year.

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