Friday, January 18, 2013

Fisker Looks for Strategic Partners in China, Hasn’t Built a Car in Six Months

The Karma might look gorgeous but things aren’t looking very good for its maker, Fisker, right now. In 2012, despite having delivered some 2,000 Karmas, it’s had its federal loan frozen, issued a number of recalls on the Karma, saw its battery supplier, A123 Systems, go bankrupt and 16 of its cars being destroyed by hurricane Sandy and, to top it all, it hasn’t built a single car in the past six months.

So the company is looking for partners and investors. And what better place to turn to than a country that wants to acquire high-end EV technology? That would be China; according to a report from Reuters, Fisker’s top executives are trying to find a strategic partner that would help them get things started again.

The U.S. automaker bets on the Chinese government’s backing of its local manufacturers in their efforts to acquire “green” technology, as it wants to have 500,000 plug-in hybrid and all-electric cars on the country’s roads by 2015, and 5 million (!) by 2020.

Up until now, Fisker has talked to China Grand Automotive Services Co., a large dealership group that is also its distributor in China, and the Wanxiang Group that was the winning bidder for the bankrupt A123 Systems.

Roger Ormisher, the company spokesman, confirmed that “Fisker is in advanced talks with a number of potential strategic partners” but he would not say anything more other than that they “expect some exciting developments in the next few months”.

“Unless you have a credible presence in China and establish a way to leverage the scale of that potentially huge demand for green cars, you have no future as an electric-car company”, a source told Reuters.

While the US$100,000 Karma isn’t exactly the car that will make an impact in the Chinese market, Fisker’s second model, the mid-size Atlantic, will be nearly 50 percent cheaper and is meant to be its first truly mass-produced vehicle.

Add the proprietary EVer plug-in hybrid powertrain and perhaps Fisker is looking in the perfect place to find the funds it needs to resume production and finish the development of the Atlantic.

By Andrew Tsaousis
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