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Venture-Capital Firms Take Notice of Emerging Green-Car Market

January 22, 2008

DETROIT --- Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a venture-capital firm that was an early backer of Netscape Communications, and Google, is now investing in Fisker Automotive Inc. --- makers of a plug-in hybrid luxury car that will carry a $80,000 price tag. The deal, finalized this month, was announced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Kleiner Managing Partner Ray Lane told the Wall Street Journal that the investment was more than $10 million. Before joining Fisker's board, Lane was a high-ranking executive at Oracle. The Fisker Karma is a plug-in hybrid that can run 50 miles on electricity before a small gasoline engine kicks in to generate electricity to charge a lithium-ion battery pack on board, the WSJ reported. Fisker Automotive's CEO is Henrik Fisker, a Danish-born former BMW AG and Aston Martin designer. The company had previously attracted investment from Palo Alto Investors, another major venture-capital firm.Fisker plans to sell 15,000 electric cars a year. Delivery of the Fisker Karma is expected in late 2009. The car can reportedly go as fast as 125 miles per hour and can hit a speed of 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. According to the Wall Street Journal, Silicon Valley money is backing a range of green-car projects from such upstart companies as Aptera Motors, Phoenix Motorcars and Tesla Motors.
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