Republicans are closely watching the Fisker loan as part of their ongoing investigation of the Energy Department’s loan program, which has so far focused on the collapse of Solyndra, the California solar panel maker that received a $535 million loan from the Obama administration in 2009.
Fisker said this week that it is laying off 66 workers, including 26 employees at a Delaware GM plant that is manufacturing the company’s Nina vehicles, according to The Associated Press. The layoffs come less than two months after the company recalled 239 of its Karma vehicles because of a faulty electric battery component that could cause a fire.
The Energy Department greenlighted the Fisker loan in April 2010 to help the company develop its plug-in electric vehicles. At the time, the administration said the loan would help the company revive the Delaware GM plant.
The Associated Press reported this week that Fisker has received $139 million of its loan and is in talks with the Energy Department on whether more funds will be released.
Asked about the Fisker loan Wednesday, Energy Secretary Chu declined to comment.
“We don’t talk about negotiations with companies on the loans,” he told reporters after speaking at an energy conference. “We’ll just hope for the best and see what happens.”
The administration came under fire from Republicans after ABC News reported last year that Fisker is making its vehicles in Finland because it could not find a contractor in America to manufacture them.
But the Energy Department has countered that the loan was intended to help Fisker develop the vehicles, which the company did in the United States.
The Energy Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.