Chinese tech billionaire Jia Yueting is trying to get a license to build electric cars in China, and he thinks that they could be a revolution there. Even if Jia doesn't make it, other companies are getting ready to jump into China's emerging EV marketplace.
Fisker Automotive appears to be wrangling up its proverbial ducks and properly aligning them again after halting production nearly two years ago. After filing for bankruptcy, the Chinese company Wanxiang, like an angel made of money, scooped up the maker of the Karma range-extended electric sports car for the sizeable sum of $149.2 million. Now, Wanxiang is looking to relaunch the Karma by early 2015, and the car that we see upon its revival will likely look quite familiar.
It's easy to fall in love with the Fisker Karma based on looks alone. Figure in the luxury interior, electric drivetrain, and the convenience of the extended range, and it's hard to fault anyone who took the plunge and plunked down their hard-earned dollars for this swank green machine. Things go wrong, sure, as they do with any vehicle, but when the company goes bankrupt and you can't get the parts to get your car running again, let's just hope you really like the way it looks in your garage.
If you thought early Fisker Karma buyers like celebrities Leonardo DiCaprio and Cee Lo Green had deep pockets, get a load of the company's new owners. China's Wanxiang Group, which earlier this year acquired the extended-range plug-in vehicle maker in a bankruptcy auction, generates more than $23 billion in annual revenue, Automotive News says. Billion with a "b."
Fisker may be down, but it might not stay down forever. The company behind the Karma luxury hybrid shut down late last year and was purchased by Chinese OEM supplier Wanxiang Group, which intends to restart production. It just can't tell us when.
Now this is the kind of fighting spirit we like to see. Lu Guanqiu is a Chinese billionaire who has visited the White House alongside Chinese president Hu Jintao in 2011. He's worth an estimated $3.1 billion. And he wants to take on Tesla Motors and other EV makers with his newly purchased company, Fisker Automotive.
In February, the Chinese company Wanxiang won control of Fisker Automotive at a bankruptcy auction for a final bid of $149.2 million. The sale meant that Wanxiang would now have to deal with all of the creditors claiming that Fisker owed them money. Those individuals and groups had a combined $1 billion in claims, and they're not happy with how the bankruptcy is shaking out. In April, a settlement was announced that would see those unsecured creditors get back pennies on the dollar.
The Orange County Register has an update on Wanxiang's plans for Fisker, and it starts with the idea that you would see brand new Karmas back on the road in mid-2015. From there the goals get less certain, the OCR saying the Surf station wagon "could ship in 2016" and the mid-priced Atlantic "might come in 2017."
As soon as the bankrupt Fisker Automotive started crawling back from the dead, rumors that the new owners would restart production of the Karma plug-in hybrid crawled as well. We've heard that the car would be built in the old General Motors plant the company owns in Delaware, that it would happen in Michigan or that Valmet would get going again in Finland. Nothing official has yet been announced, but Delaware Online is now saying that it's even money that Delaware to play a role in Fisker's phy
We can now see at least one possible reason for why Hybrid Tech Holdings LLC bought the US Department of Energy's loan to Fisker Automotive last year for $25 million. The purchase is apparently worth $90 million today.
Lithium-ion battery maker A123 Systems is officially unplugging from the grid. The company, which was acquired by Wanxiang Group last year, is selling its grid-storage business to Japan-based NEC Corp. The company's Massachusetts and Missouri facilities are going along with it.
Perhaps Wanxiang is serious about finally, actually re-starting plug-in hybird Fisker production. One of the first big official steps that The New Fisker has taken, other than putting up a new website, is to buy that old disparaged General Motors plant new Newport, DE for $18 million.
It may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the approximately $1 billion in liabilities bankrupt automaker Fisker Automotive has against it, but every bit helps. In this case, it's a smidgeon less than $5 billion. That's how much the maker of the Karma extended-range plug-in is getting approved to borrow from its presumed future owner, Wanxiang Group. It's a start.
If there's any question where Wanxiang hopes to take the remains of Fisker Automotive, just take a look at The New Fisker, a fresh official website for the bankrupt automaker. While the text available there hedges about just when and how the company will restart production, it is clear from the pictures that the company is ready to make the Atlantic PHEV concept a reality. The site even says, "Hello Future. Meet the Atlantic."