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Fisker re-born under Chinese rule

Good Karma: Fisker will return under the ownership of Chinese parts maker Wanxiang with the Karma to be the first cab off the rank.

New Chinese owner to put “every cent” into making Fisker re-boot a success

Fisker logo20 May 2014

By TIM NICHOLSON

THE new Chinese billionaire owner of Fisker Automotive says he will take on Tesla on its home soil by building electric vehicles in the United States – and will go broke doing so if necessary.

Bloomberg is reporting that Lu Guanqiu, whose company Wanxiang outbid a number of other Chinese suitors to ultimately buy Fisker for $US149.2 million ($A160.5) in February, is putting everything on the line to ensure the failed car-maker is a success the second time around.

“I’ll put every cent that Wanxiang earns into making electric vehicles,” he said. “I’ll burn as much cash as it takes to succeed, or until Wanxiang goes bust.”“The road is still very long. We want to concentrate for now on manufacturing in the U.S. If I don’t succeed, my son will continue with it. If he doesn’t make it, my grandson will.”

Mr Lu, who Bloomberg calculates has a personal fortune of $US3.1 billion, plans to initially build Fisker-branded vehicles in the United States before eventually expanding the operations to the Chinese market.

Fisker's new parent company plans to re-boot manufacturing operations at an abandoned GM plant in Wilmington, Delaware that was included in the Fisker estate.

Initially, it will produce the Karma plug-in hybrid sports sedan before branching out into other extended-range hybrids, but the company did not provide a timeline for the recommencement of manufacturing.

It is unclear whether Fisker, under its new owner, will build the Atlantic four-door sedan which was revealed in concept form at the 2012 New York motor show and was set to be the company's second model before it went bankrupt.

Other Fisker concepts that never got the green light for production, including the shooting brake-style Surf from the 2011 Frankfurt show or the Sunset convertible could potentially be rolled out by the new owners.

The re-born Fisker will go head-to-head with US car-maker Tesla which is experiencing a sales boom in its home market, thanks to the Model S sedan which has become the premium car of choice for environmentally conscious celebrities.

Tesla co-founder and chief executive officer Elon Musk, also a fellow billionaire, has previously said that the company will eventually produce cars in China. The first Model S deliveries arrived in China last month and the company is currently building a network of battery charging stations to support Tesla buyers.

About 2450 Karmas were built in Finland between 2011 and 2012 before production came to a halt prior to the company filing for bankruptcy in 2013.

Wanxiang, which is the biggest automotive components manufacturer in China, has invested five billion yuan since 1999 to build electric vehicles but this was suspended after realising the model was not reliable enough to compete, according to Mr Lu.

The company went on to produce electrified buses which are currently being trialled on the streets of Shanghai, Qindao and Hangzhou.

In late 2012, Wangxiang bought Fisker's main lithium-ion battery supplier – A123 Systems – after that company filed for bankruptcy.

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