MISSISSAUGA, ON – Nissan today announced Canadian pricing for the all-new 2014 Nissan Versa Note line-up that will boast segment-first features like AroundView® Monitor, best-in-class cargo space and exceptional fuel economy. With a starting MSRP of just $13,348 CDN and available features like Bluetooth®, leather wrapped steering wheel with mounted audio controls, cruise control and Nissan’s Divide N’ Hide® Storage System, the Versa Note is sure to be a big hit in the Canadian market.
Also available on the all-new Versa Note is Nissan’s exclusive NissanConnect with Navigation system, offering real-time traffic and weather information, Google™ Send-to-Car, Google™ Points of Interest, Bluetooth® streaming audio and hands-free text messaging, perfect for staying connected safely, while on the road.
“The Versa Note is designed to stir the emotions but priced to appease our rational sides – it’s really going to shake up the sub-compact segment,” said Brian Thomas, Director of Marketing, Nissan Canada Inc. “More and more Canadians are looking for a car that is affordable, compact and fuel efficient but also provides the technology and convenience features needed to fit their lives. With the Versa Note, they can now have it all.”
The second-generation hatchback offers smart packaging and features unexpected in the class. In addition to the new Versa Note’s extensive list of standard equipment, two special equipment packages are offered, including the Convenience Package (available on SV models) which includes a RearView Monitor, rear tonneau cover and Divide N’ Hide® adjustable storage system, USB input with iPod® control, SiriusXM Satellite radio and a 5 inch audio display screen – all for just $680.
The Technology Package (available on SL models) is priced at $720 and includes AroundView Monitor®, NissanConnect with Navigation, 5.8 inch colour touch screen, XM Satellite with XM Nav Traffic and a USB input for iPod® and other devices. This package creates a technology-packed top model and at just $19,018, represents a ten per cent price advantage for consumers when compared to last year.
When it goes on sale this June at Nissan dealers across Canada, the all-new Versa Note will be available in nine well-equipped models designed to appeal to a broad range of buyer needs and budgets. Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP) for the 2014 Nissan Versa Note are as follows:
Versa Note 1.6 S, MT $13,348 CDN
Versa Note 1.6 S, CVT $14,648 CDN
Versa Note 1.6 SV, MT $14,998 CDN
Versa Note 1.6 SV, MT, Convenience $15,678 CDN
Versa Note 1.6 SV, CVT $16,298 CDN
Versa Note 1.6 SV, CVT, Convenience $16,978 CDN
Versa Note 1.6 SL, MT $16,998 CDN
Versa Note 1.6 SL, CVT $18,298 CDN
Versa Note 1.6 SL, CVT, Technology $19,018 CDN
DETROIT, MI - Chrysler is recalling 469,000 Jeep SUVs worldwide because they can shift into neutral without warning on startup.
The recall affects 2005 to 2010 Grand Cherokees and 2006 to 2010 Commanders.
U.S. safety regulators say cracks in a circuit board can cause a faulty signal as the SUVs are being started. If the vehicles shift into neutral they can roll away.
Chrysler says the problem has caused 26 crashes and two injuries.
Chrysler will notify owners and dealers will update software to take care of the problem. Chrysler found cracks in a circuit board that turns the four-wheel-drive system on and off.
Repairs will be made at no cost to owners.
The recall covers 295,000 vehicles in the U.S., 28,500 in Canada, and 4,200 in Mexico. The remaining 141,000 are outside North America.
The company says in documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Administration that it began looking into the problem after a customer complained that an SUV rolled away in January of 2012 after being started remotely.
There are only a few days between now and Mother’s Day, which is usually the time I start scrambling to figure out a gift. I can’t be the only one who does this, so I’m sure many of you are in the same boat. It’s always tough to figure out the right gift. Do I go for some kitchenware, a cookbook, or perhaps a perfume I know she likes? These are the usual choices that float in my mind and they usually work.
However, the same gifts do get stale after a while and it’s nice to be original and shake things up. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit with the people at Canadian Tire who shared with me a new exciting idea for Mother’s Day – clean her car inside and out! What a thought!
It’s something so simple, yet so nice and most likely needed. It’s hard to make the automotive and Mother’s Day connection, but it’s a service that can include the whole family and be much appreciated and definitely remembered (hopefully not expected every year).
In order to show me what products to buy and explain how easy it was to clean a vehicle, the folks at Canadian Tire gave me a demonstration at one of their local stores. You can call it the one-and-only Mother’s Day gift I will ever receive and I loved it. Now if I loved it – what would your mother say when the whole family puts in the effort on Sunday morning?
I pulled my Mazda3 into their garage area and they went to work on it. Unfortunately, I was so busy writing notes and taking pictures I couldn’t possibly assist.
The first thing they spotted was some bird droppings on the hood and excitingly ran up to showcase Autoglym’s Bird Dropping Wipes ($6.99). They resemble a large wet-nap that most importantly doesn’t bleed through causing no mess or residue. It was quick, painless and left no bird droppings on my hands and that to me is a formula for success.
After the bird dropping demonstration, they started out with a power wash using a cap-full of Simoniz Wash & Wax ($12.99) mixed in with a regular bucket of water. Once that was complete, the next step was to spray the entire exterior with Autoglym’s Aqua Wax. The Autoglym Aqua Wax Kit ($21.99) comes with the wax spray and two microfiber cloths. This waxing was so simple even your laziest child can figure it out. It’s just a simple spray, followed by using one of the cloths to spread the wax evenly around and the other cloth to buff off the wax.
The exterior is never complete without paying attention to your wheels and tires and that’s where Simoniz Tire Foam ($8.99) comes in. After covering the entire tire with a few sprays – I said good-bye to all that dirt, mud and grime. Best part of this product is that after you spray it, there’s no more work to be done, it comes off on its own. As for the wheels, Autoglym’s Custom Wheel Cleaner ($12.99) was used to dissolve brake dust, corrosion and traffic film while providing a nice shine after some scrubbing with Simoniz’s Wheel & Fender Brush ($8.99).
Unfortunately, my interior was in pretty good shape, so I gave the Canadian Tire people a bit of a break. As I sipped a coffee on the side I had one request, if they could do something with my endless array of extinct pennies. Within seconds a solution was found as they were all collected and stored along with many old receipts in a vintage MotoMaster tin jar – I guess there’s everything for everyone somewhere in Canadian Tire.
Now back to the job at hand…
The first thing they did was remove all of the mats and loose items and got straight to vacuuming. For this job, the Bissell AutoCare Hand Vacuum ($49.99) did the trick. I must say a very handy tool for the car and the home. It’s a compact and lightweight vacuum that’s deceptively powerful and can get into those hard-to-reach places. Within seconds it sucked up loose hair, scraps of paper and the many leftover bagel crumbs.
When it came to cleaning my dashboard and other plastics there were many different products that could be used. I had the chance to see both the versatile Tub O' Towels ($9.99) and the Armor All Cleaning Wipes ($4.99) in action. They both did a great job in cleaning the dash, getting rid of the dust and making it shine. It just shows you the many different options out there – it’s just your job to decide which is best for you.
It might seem like a lot of products and a lot of work, but I can tell you first-hand everything was fairly easy and quick to use. I went to check out their spring display in the store and all of these products are easy to find and were showcased front and center. A little help can go a long way and if your mother’s vehicle can use a little makeover – Canadian Tire has all the products and tools you need.
Cooper Tires is a name that’s very familiar yet uncommon in Canada. Names like Bridgestone, Goodyear, Pirelli and Michelin fill our tire commercials and store signs, but there’s still some room for competition. That’s why Cooper Tires have been making a strong push to make an imprint on the Canadian marketplace.
Cooper Tires are definitely not new, being founded in 1914. Their expertise has focused on the replacement tire market specializing in performance and passenger tires, light trucks, sport utility and crossover vehicles. In attempt to broaden their reach and appeal, Cooper Tires has recently focused their attention to the Great White North – Canada. Cooper Tires have been selling in Canada, unbeknownst to many, but they’re determined to customize their tires and promotional material specifically to Canadians. Considering that Windsor, Ontario is only 175 kilometres from Cooper Tires headquarters in Findlay, Ohio – it only makes sense for them to showcase their tires in Canada.
Just recently, Cooper Tires got back into the OEM game and worked out an arrangement with Ford to add its ultra-high performance Zeon RS3-A tire (comes in 38 different sizes) to their all-new Ford Focus vehicles. The Focus falls in the same segment as my Mazda3, so it was a nice test to see how well the Zeon RS3-A’s perform on it through the streets of Toronto.
They were fitted to my 2010 Mazda3 Sport replacing their OEMs, the Bridgestone Turanza EL400 that have seen better days through three summers and two snowy winters. When you’re not on a back-to-back test it could be hard at times to see the differences from one tire to the other, so it was going to be an interesting challenge to see what kind of change could be felt, if any.
This was not the first time I tested the Zeon RS3-A’s. Last spring I was invited to Pearsall, Texas to the Cooper Tires 1,000-acre test track facility to learn more about the company and their tire options. On a wet track, both these Zeon RS3-A’s and Toyo’s Proxes 4 Plus all-seasons were fitted onto Ford Mustang V-6s. That was a different test that highlighted the Zeon’s asymmetrical tread over the one-directional Toyos.
The all-weather RS3-A’s can be used in snow or rain and were perfect for the wet track showing off its versatility. My laps were timed and the Mustang with the Zeon’s were two seconds quicker than its competition from Toyo. They battled through those slippery conditions while the Toyo’s had me skidding in corners and took longer to straighten out.
This new test would be much different and more in-tune with the regular driving habits of the average Canadian. The Zeon RS3-A’s would be tested under normal driving conditions with an everyday car. There would be no race track, water track, or competitor in this test. Would they be quiet and smooth or fail under some of Toronto’s old crackly roads? Would they provide better grip and handling?
Let’s start out with handling. With any performance tire you’re looking for handling control that allows you to be more confident and relaxed in your driving actions. We aren’t talking extreme racing here, but let’s be honest; you want your tires to give you that added friskiness even if it’s a Mazda3.
Quickly I could sense a noticeable change in my vehicle. The Zeon’s responded quickly and confidently to my steering throughout the streets of Toronto and into Hamilton. They performed admirably and with ease around the twists and turns on my specially designed route. The grip they showed on those windy roads amazed me the most and they transitioned from straight to sideways and back in impressive fashion. And when taken on the highway – the Zeon’s handling increased with no tire roll while being quieter.
The Zeon RS3-A excels in the handling department as it’s made with 3-D micro-gauge siping that increases tread element stability allowing for more tire control. The 3-D dimple sipes are strategically placed in the center, intermediate and shoulder of the tire creating more road biting action. This simply translates to better grip allowing you to brake quicker if needed and turn those corners at higher speeds. So the best of both worlds – safety and fun. Is there anything more you can ask for in a tire?
Another thing that stands out with these Zeon RS3-A’s is the quiet ride it brings. This low amount of noise has a lot to do with its asymmetric design. Asymmetrical tires have a design that mixes different tread patterns to offer better tire performance under differing conditions. Asymmetrical tires have many advantages including the increase of overall tread life and stable cornering (mentioned above), but it also helps decrease road noise and provides you a more peaceful and enjoyable ride.
Beyond the Zeon RS3-A’s great dry performance, they’re also designed with tread patterns that are optimized for wet and light snow conditions. They possess two wide circumferential grooves that suck water away from the tire tread for hydroplane resistance. For the winter, traction performance is sustained by its sweeping elliptical grooves. I wouldn’t recommend using them as winter tires in some parts of Canada, but if you don’t see much snow they should do just fine.
Heading into this test I wasn’t sure I would feel much of a change in my Mazda3. The changes weren’t drastic, but the Zeon RS3-A noticeably improved the stability and handling of my vehicle. Cooper Tires combination of asymmetrical tread design and rubber compound make the Zeon RS3-A a viable performance all-season tire choice. They deliver plenty of performance on dry days, and in different parts of Canada, they will be much needed as they provide added confidence when it’s wet or lightly snowing outside.
Cooper Tires have a strong background in the replacement tire segment and their prices don’t reflect its performance. Prices vary based on size and store, but I found these tires online for the 205/55R16 size I needed selling for $135.99 per tire with a $70 mail-in rebate. In comparison to its ultra-high performance competitors, the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus and the Pirelli P Zero Nero all-season were found at a more expensive cost. I haven’t tested all of their competitors out, but I was happy with my Zeon RS3-A’s that provided me some top-quality features at a mid-market price and I will take that every time.
JAMAICA – Nissan has delivered a special GT-R, bathed in exclusive gold paint, to Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt in appreciation for his contributions as a Nissan brand ambassador for GT-R. Bolt, known as "the world's fastest man," has been promoting the company's brand awareness in association with the Nissan Global Brand Campaign, which kicked off in April 2012 and has been running in markets around the world ever since.
It was love at first sight for Bolt, already a GT-R owner, when the one-of-a-kind "Bolt Gold" GT-R was unveiled as the top prize in an online global charity auction held in late 2012. The proceeds of the auction went to the Usain Bolt Foundation.
The special Gold GT-R that Nissan presented to Bolt is based on the 2014 model year Nissan GT-R. It has been customized to suit Bolt's driving style, based on the data Nissan engineers recorded during his test drive of the GT-R line-up when he visited the company headquarters in October 2012.
The uniquely gold-painted Nissan GT-R features a flamboyant white interior, BOSE® audio system and 10-spoke RAYS® aluminum-alloy forged wheels. These specially fitted, hyper-titanium color-coated wheels add extra flair to an already bold exterior that is highlighted by an exclusive "Spec Bolt" emblem. The visual specs of the car, including exterior color, interior color and wheels, were selected by Bolt himself.
The handover event took place on May 5, 2013, at Bolt's home training facility in Jamaica that overlooks the mountains of his home country. Jose Román, vice president of Nissan Latin America and the Caribbean, who attended on behalf of Nissan, handed over the keys to the Gold GT-R to Bolt. Bolt then become the owner of one of only two Gold GT-Rs in existence, the other belonging to the charity auction winner who will take delivery of his special car before the summer of 2013.
TORONTO – Canadians shopping for a new truck helped drive auto sales up nearly nine per cent last month, according to sales figures compiled by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants on Wednesday.
Sales of light vehicles in Canada totalled 171,807 for April, up 8.9 per cent from 157,777 a year ago, breaking a four-month streak of lower year-over-year sales.
The bulk of the gain came from a 16.3 per cent increase in light truck sales which totalled 94,701 for the month, up from 81,409 in April 2012.
“The Canadian light vehicle market surged forward last month, thawing out after a slow winter,” DesRosiers said in an analysis that pointed out that the year-to-date sales were now ahead of 2012 for the first time.
The automotive consulting firm noted the big U.S. and Japanese brands enjoyed sales growth last month, while the Korean automakers and some prominent luxury brands failed to capitalize on the strong market.
“Both Korean brands have now lost roughly half a point of market share apiece on a year-to-date basis, bleeding some of the gains won from Japanese manufacturers over the last five years,” DesRosiers said.
Sales of its F-Series pickup trucks helped Ford Motor Co. of Canada claim the top spot for the month and the year-to date.
Ford says it sold 27,907 vehicles last month, up from 24,171 a year ago.
The gain came as the company’s overall truck sales gained 21 per cent to total 20,809, up from 17,267 from a year ago, and sales of its F-Series truck shot up 38 per cent. Ford car sales were up three per cent from a year ago.
“We’re pleased to see long-term growth across varied markets, from the Fusion to the F-150, which has resulted in sales leadership year-to-date through April,” Ford Canada president and chief executive Dianne Craig said.
Meanwhile, Chrysler Canada reported sales of 25,745, up from 24,540 in April 2012, also helped by truck sales.
Chrysler said Ram truck sales gained 31 per cent to total 8,020, up from 6,129, while overall truck sales increased 3.2 per cent to 19,865 vehicles. Passenger car sales gained 11 per cent to total 5,880, up from 5,283.
General Motors Canada joined Ford in reporting a double-digit increase in April sales, although it still came in third among the Detroit Three automakers.
GM Canada said the overall number of vehicles delivered by dealers rose 19 per cent to 25,071, its best April performance since 2009.
“We experienced strong sales in virtually all of our vehicle segments in April,” said Marc Comeau, GM of Canada’s vice-president of sales, service and marketing.
“We’re optimistic for the remainder of 2013 as we continue with our aggressive launch plans.”
Toyota Canada, helped by its truck sales, led the way among the Japanese automakers as it said it sold 20,087 vehicles in April, up 7.2 per cent from a year ago, including its Lexus and Scion brands.
Toyota sales totalled 18,008 for the month, a gain of six per cent as truck sales grew 20.3 per cent to 8,171 for the month. Lexus sold 1,520 vehicles, up 13.6 per cent form a year ago, including 848 sport-utility vehicles which were up 20.9 per cent. Scion sales were up 40 per cent at 561.
Meanwhile, Honda sales gained 17 per cent to finish the month at 13,257, up from 11,303 a year ago, while its Acura nameplate gained 39 per cent for 2,06 sales in the month, up from 1,497.
Mazda sales slipped to 6,682 from 7,049 in April 2012, while Nissan sales flew to 7,416 from 6,307.
Hyundai sales slipped to 13,517 from 14,301, while Kia sales fell to 7,581 from 8,010.
Spring has arrived and although the weather has been unsteady with some snowy days, it’s time to gear up for the new season. Now for many of you that might mean tending to the garden and lawn, cleaning, or barbequing, but this article will focus on your auto needs.
Spring is the time of the year when you get the urge to clean your car or go on a much needed road trip. There’s just something about sunny weather, a blue sky and clear roads that make you crave an enjoyable road trip. If you’re one of those people that love to have their vehicle in tip-top shape for the road, there are many different places you can go for your auto supplies. For the sake of saving time and creating a one-stop shopping venture – Canadian Tire might just do the trick.
Recently I had the pleasure to grab a sneak peek at Canadian Tire’s latest offerings for the spring that’s now available for all to enjoy. Here are a few products that can enhance your ride and make your road trips more enjoyable.
Autoglym Aqua Wax ($21.99)
This is a unique product to Canadian Tire and comes in a kit that contains the aqua wax spray and two microfiber cloths. For people that don’t have too much time on their hands, Autoglym’s Aqua Wax is quick and easy to use. After a shampoo wash, shake and spray the wax on all the exterior surfaces while your vehicle is still wet and use one of the cloths to spread the wax evenly around. After that you just need to buff off the wax with the other cloth and achieve a smear-free finish. It’s so easy that even lazy people can get in the mood to clean their car.
Meguiar’s DA Power System ($64.99)
For the more serious car care specialists we have Meguiar’s DA Power System. It’s a sponge that can attach itself to most household drills in order to wax, compound and polish your vehicle in less than 30 minutes. The Power System does most of the work allowing you to save your energy and strength for the rest of the day. Meguiar’s has all your waxing, compounding and polishing liquid packs available at a price of $16.99 if you so choose.
Rubbermaid Auto Organizers (ranging from $9.99-$34.99)
I’m sure this is something every vehicle owner needs, but rarely buys. Whether you’re going on a weekend drive to the park or on a lengthy road trip – these auto organizers will save you from clutter and many arguments along the way. Depending on your needs and family size there are plenty of options ranging from the mini Rubbermaid Trunk Organizer, Deluxe Catcher for $9.99 that can hold smaller items, such as sunglasses, notepads, travel mugs and loose change all the way to the Rubbermaid Triple Bin Auto Organizer for $34.99 that can hold all of your sports equipment and then some.
U-Neck Gel Insert Travel Pillow ($17.99)
If you’ve had some discomfort or just want the ultimate neck support, U-Neck has created a travel pillow with three pounds of soft moulded memory foam. It’s something that is typically purchased prior to a flight, but it might just be the saving grace of a road trip gone too long.
Bracketron Universal Mobile Grip-iT™ Windshield Mount ($24.99)
This is more an unusual item to promote as most new GPS systems come with a windshield mount. However, if you do have an older GPS system or your windshield mount no longer works, you might not know there’s an option out there for you.
Bracketron’s Universal Mobile Grip-iT™ windshield mount has a quick lock & release lever and is able to rotate 360 degrees. It possesses adjustable wings that open up to 4.5-inches and features a 9.5-inch rotating window mount. Installation is simple and it’s compatible with most GPS systems (just make sure yours is one of them).
Kenwood KDC-BT555U Car Stereo ($159.99)
Kenwood audio stereos have long been considered top-of-the-line in performance, reliability and innovative technology, so it was nice to hear that they’re now being offered at Canadian Tire after a decade hiatus. They have three different car stereo choices from Kenwood and I’ve chosen to feature the top model stereo as it has iPhone automatic Bluetooth pairing which is a feature many seek. It also features satellite radio capabilities, variable colour, a remote and an iPhone App mode.
Motomaster Eliminator 100W Inverter ($36.99)
There are many times during our travels where we need a portable charging station for our phones, cameras, MP3 players and computers. Canadian Tire is offering three different power station options from their own brand Motomaster. The Motomaster Eliminator 100-watt inverter has a peak power of 160-watts and plugs directly into your vehicle’s 12-volt socket. This particular model has a carbon fibre design.
Roadside Assistance Commuter Safety Kit ($29.99)
Last but not least, we have the roadside assistance safety kit. Any road trip needs some peace of mind and you can have that along with 8' 10 gauge booster cables, 14' 4,500 lb. capacity tow rope, 2-piece tee pee triangle, car blanket, knit gloves, flashlight, emergency poncho and many other necessities if something were to go wrong. As a bonus Canadian Tire offers one-year of free roadside assistance with your purchase.
TORONTO - Honda Canada is recalling about 2,000 Fit Sport vehicles from the 2012-2013 model year.
It's part of a larger Honda recall of nearly 46,000 Fit Sport small cars in the U.S. and Canada.
The company says the recall is to update the Vehicle Stability Assist system software, which will be done free of charge.
It says the VSA system on some of those vehicles equipped with certain tires may allow the tires to lose traction and cause the vehicle to skid under certain test manoeuvres.
Honda says that could result in swerving that exceeds certain Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards requirements.
The company says the issue was discovered during compliance testing. It says it isn't aware of any related crashes or injuries.
Customers will receive notifications of the recall in the mail in May and are encouraged to take their vehicles in to an authorized dealer.
Mexico City, Mexico - There now are 30 Nissan NV2500s being used for ambulances by the Mexican Red Cross. The vehicle was a perfect choice, says the organization, because it can stand up to being driven for many miles on sometimes unstable terrain.
“We have to get to that patient no matter what. Sometimes you have to take highway roads, sometimes dirt roads. And, this ambulance handles very well,” said Red Cross Ambulance Driver Rene Palacios.
The Nissan NV2500 ambulance was first used by the Mexican Red Cross in April 2012 in a pilot test. After proving its versatility and functionality, the Mexican Red Cross decided to integrate Nissan as a partner for its ambulance fleet this year.
Nissan Mexicana’s President and General Director, José Valls, says the NV2500 won out over other more expensive vehicles. “Now the Red Cross in Mexico has taken the NV2500 as the flagship of the new ambulance.”
The Mexican Red Cross receives over 1.2 million ambulance service requests per year, so the NV2500 will have many opportunities to show its capabilities in terms of reliability and versatility.
WASHINGTON, DC - Newly released documents show that the Obama administration was warned as early as 2010 that electric car maker Fisker Automotive Inc. was not meeting milestones set up for a half-billion dollar government loan, nearly a year before U.S. officials froze the loan after questions were raised about the company's statements.
An Energy Department official said in a June 2010 email that Fisker's bid to draw on the federal loan may be jeopardized for failure to meet goals established by the Energy Department.
Despite that warning, Fisker continued to receive money until June 2011, when the DOE halted further funding. The agency did so after Fisker presented new information that called into question whether key milestones — including launch of the company's signature, $100,000 Karma hybrid — had been achieved, according to a credit report prepared by the Energy Department.
The December 2011 credit report said "DOE staff asked questions about the delays" in the launch of the Karma "and received varied and incomplete explanations," leading to the suspension of the loan. Fisker had received a total of $192 million of the $529 million loan before it was suspended.
In the June 2010 email, Sandra Claghorn, an official in DOE's loan program office, had written that Fisker "may be in limbo due to a lack of compliance with financial covenants" set up by the Energy Department to protect taxpayers in the event of default. Another document, from April 2010, listed milestones that Fisker had not yet met.
Aoife McCarthy, a spokeswoman for the Energy Department, said the June 2010 email was taken out of context.
"The document shows that one person at a meeting discussed the possibility that Fisker might not meet a financial commitment" required by the Energy Department, McCarthy said in an email late Tuesday. DOE received the needed certification five days later and subsequently made the loan payment, she said.
The Associated Press obtained the Fisker documents ahead of a House hearing scheduled for Wednesday on the federal loan to the troubled car maker, which has laid off three-fourths of its workers amid continuing financial and production problems.
The potential loss of $171 million would be largest loss of federal loan money since the 2011 failure of solar panel maker Solyndra, which declared bankruptcy and laid off all its workers after receiving a $528 million loan from the Energy Department.
The Energy Department seized $21 million from Fisker this month as it continued to seek repayment from the car maker for the 2009 loan. A payment from Fisker was due Monday, but was not made, a DOE official said.
Henrik Fisker, the company's namesake and founder, was scheduled to testify at Wednesday's hearing. Fisker, who was forced out as CEO as the company's troubles mounted, said in prepared testimony that he remained proud of the company's "cutting edge technology," which he said could "pave the way for a new generation of American car manufacturing."
Fisker disputed claims by some critics that the Anaheim, Calif.-based company needed the federal loan to survive. Fisker said a high-ranking Energy Department official approached him in 2008 and asked him to apply for the loan, which is intended to boost electric cars and other advanced vehicles.
"At that time, we already had significant financial backing from private investors," Fisker said in the prepared testimony. In all, the company received more than $1 billion in private financing, he said.
The company met initial milestones set up by the Energy Department before informing the department that it would not meet future goals on time, Fisker said. He denied that any political influence was used to obtain the loan or in negotiations over its terms.
"I am not aware and do not believe that any improper political influence was used in connection with the company's loan application or subsequent negotiations with the Department of Energy," Fisker said.
Vice-President Joe Biden announced in late 2009 that Fisker would reopen a shuttered former General Motors factory in Wilmington, Del., to produce plug-in, electric hybrid vehicles. The plant was never completed and never produced any cars.
Fisker said the company was hurt badly by the 2008 recession and by the bankruptcy of A123 Systems, a Massachusetts company hired by Fisker to make batteries for the Karma. A bankruptcy judge granted Fisker $15 million in a claim against A123 for breach of warranty, a fraction of Fisker's initial claim.
Fisker has not built a vehicle since last summer and has failed to secure a buyer as its cash reserves have dwindled.