Fisker Atlantic Design Prototype - 2012 New York Auto ShowEnlarge Photo
Only a few days ago we told you Fisker Automotive’s new owner, Chinese auto parts giant Wanxiang, was keen to restart production of the Karma extended-range electric sedan as well as launch a new V-8-powered model together with American startup VL Automotive. Now, a Wanxiang executive has revealed a few more details on the Chinese company’s future plans for Fisker.
Speaking with Reuters, Pin Ni, the head of Wanxiang’s U.S. arm, said Wanxiang was aiming to restart production of the Fisker Karma at the car’s plant in Valmet, Finland within the space of a year. The cars would be identical to the ones built by Fisker prior to its bankruptcy and would be sold in the U.S. and Europe, although it’s not clear whether the cars would be sold under the Fisker name.
Once sales ramp up and remaining inventories at the Valmet plant expire, Wanxiang plans to move production of the Karma to the U.S., with possible sites being a plant in Michigan, where VL Automotive is based, or Fisker’s empty plant in Delaware. Ni said that starting production in China was also a possibility but the U.S. remained the main focus.
“The first step is the United States but China is a huge market we cannot ignore,” Ni said. “So, down the road we are going to look into the China market for sure.”
Ni also revealed that Wanxiang wants to proceed with development of Fisker’s proposed Atlantic sedan, a small extended-range electric sedan that would target the likes of the BMW 3-Series and a similar electric sedan from Tesla dubbed the Model E. Ni said that development of the Atlantic was only half complete.
Finally, Ni revealed that Wanxiang wanted to sell more cars than Fisker had prior to its bankruptcy but hadn’t determined any amounts yet. Fisker, which began selling the Karma in 2011, sold a total of 1,800 before it suspended production, falling far short of initial projections that it would sell 11,000 sedans by early 2012.
From the time it was established in 2007, Fisker burned through more than $1 billion in private investment as well as $192 million of government loan provided through the Department of Energy. Note, Fisker is the second bankrupt firm acquired by Wanxiang that had benefitted from a U.S. government loan. The first was A123 Systems, which supplied the lithium-ion battery for the Karma and whose own bankruptcy in 2012 was a key factor in Fisker having to cease production, leading to its bankruptcy.