Sizzling Future Electric Car Market Attracts Middle East Investment

September 15th 2008
Fisker-Karma EV

The hot new ticket for the investment community is electric vehicles, from mass-market hybrids like the Toyota Prius to plug-ins hybrids (PHEVs) like the Volt to pure electric vehicles (EVs) like the Tesla Roadsters.

In 2007, about 500,000 HEVs were sold worldwide. PHEVs entry into the market in 2010 is projected to increase the total light electric vehicle to three million units by 2012. That means there is green to made in the green car field. Whenever investments are tallied, Middle East money flows. The same has now occurred for electric vehicle market.

Recently, an affiliate of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), a state-owned and funded sovereign wealth fund, led a $65 million financing round for Fisker Automotive Inc., a producer of plug-in electric hybrids. QIA, the $60-billion investment arm of the Qatari government, previously concentrated in real estate holdings but is now wielding some of its wealth in EVs. Ironically, Qatari wealth comes from petroleum, the very commodity EVs are designed to circumvent. Fisker appears to be QIA’s first investment in automobiles.

A prototype of Fisker’s sleek $80,000 plug-in, was introduced at the Detroit’s January Auto Show. But no reference to its new Mideast source was made in the generic press release announcing the new funding. “This shows once again that Fisker Automotive has a solid business plan and a globally experienced automotive team with very strong investors behind the company,” said a generic announcement press release from Fisker. With oil wealth in hand, the company was confident enough to announce that sales will begin in the fourth quarter of 2009 which could make it the first leading company to market a plug-in—a full year ahead of the GM Volt.

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