Henrik Fisker reveals the Atlantic in New York earlier this month. Fisker laid off more in Delaware, leaving just a couple of people employed at the plant. / The News Journal/SUCHAT PEDERSON
Will this be the next Tucker???
Written by: JONATHAN STARKEY
Only a small maintenance team is left at Fisker’s Automotive’s Newport-area factory after the start-up carmaker laid off another 12 workers as it attempts to secure more loan funding from the federal government.
The layoffs, which occurred quietly Friday, included Jeff Garland, a deep-rooted Delawarean who was spearheading community affairs and business development efforts across the state for Fisker.
Garland, who previously worked as an executive at MBNA and as an aide for Sen. Bill Roth, said the plant is “absolutely empty.” Fisker has hauled used equipment away from the site, which was owned by General Motors, but it has not begun to install equipment to produce its second electric-hybrid model – the Atlantic.
Garland said the layoffs also included engineers working in the facility and maintenance technicians.
“All of us who were there hoped we were still adding value,” said Garland. “I think what happened was the budget numbers are so tight right now and they’re working so hard to preserve as much cash as they can that something had to give. We’re not making a car in Wilmington right now, so given that situation it was an obvious place to make a cut,” Garland added.
Production of Fisker’s Atlantic, a $50,000 sedan, was originally scheduled to begin later this year, but those plans were put on hold earlier this year after U.S. Department of Energy recently suspended Fisker’s $529 million federal loan after the company failed to reach milestones related to its first car, the $100,000 electric hybrid sedan.
Fisker had already laid off 26 workers at the plant.
Now, Fisker’s commitment to Delaware seems shaky. Chief executive Tom LaSorda recently announced that Fisker may not build cars in Delaware if it cannot secure additional financing from the Energy Department. The company’s negotiations with the agency continue behind closed doors.
“We have always had a flexible business model that allows us to scale up and down as work demands. As we ramp up the project again we will add new headcount,” said Russell Datz, a Fisker spokesman. “We’ve accomplished a lot at the plant, using more than 40 local contract firms to recycle old material and equipment. The plant is now ready for the next phase of installing new production equipment.”
Garland, who was working with companies to design uniforms for Fisker’s Delaware workforce and plan an on-site daycare facility, called Fisker “a good company with a good product.
“They deserve the opportunity to succeed,” he said.
Contact Jonathan Starkey at 324-2832, on Twitter @jwstarkey or at firstname.lastname@example.org.