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Fisker Taking Its Plug-In Hybrids to China

Charged up over world’s largest car market.

by on Dec.15, 2010

Henrik Fisker with his plug-in hybrid, the $87,900 Karma, which is now going to debut in China.

Fisker Automotive has partnered with the China Grand Automotive Group, the number one passenger car trader in China, to have its vehicles distributed, marketed and serviced in the region.

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The maker’s interest in the world’s fastest-growing national automotive market comes as Chinese government leaders put pressure on the industry to adopt clean electric propulsion.  Fisker is planning to build a series of plug-in hybrids, starting with a high-performance sports car and then a family sedan.

Henrik Fisker CEO of the eponymous Fisker Automotive, said the rapid growth of Chinese auto sales, particularly within the luxury segment, combined with the country’s efforts to minimize carbon emissions, makes China an excellent market for, “a company that believes environmentally conscious cars can deliver passion, style and performance.”

Representatives of both companies signed the non-exclusive agreement during a ceremony near CGA headquarters in Shanghai today. CGA has a network of more than 200 retail stores carrying 40 brands, including Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lexus and Lamborghini. In 2010 the company reached sales of  more than $7 billion.

“We are extremely proud to be working with CGA to support Fisker Automotive in the fast-emerging Chinese market,” Fisker said. “With its vast network of experienced retailers CGA will give Fisker an instant and credible footprint in the region. CGA’s attention to detail and excellent customer service will ensure Fisker buyers receive the level of service and peace of mind expected of a premium brand.”

Fisker Automotive’s first car, the Fisker Karma, will make its Chinese debut at the Shanghai Motor Show in April 2011. That’s about when the company hopes to begin production of the plug-in hybrid, which has seen its launch delayed by more than a year.

With a total range of 300 miles, the four-passenger Karma sedan is a high-performance cousin of the new Chevrolet Volt.  It will be capable of traveling 50 miles on emission-free electric power alone, using its lithium-ion battery pack, before switching to a back-up gasoline engine.  In conventional powertrain mode it will get an additional 250 miles before needing to either refill or plug back in.

The California-based start-up claims to have received about 3,000 pre-orders for the Karma from around the world. Fisker plans to sell 15,000 Karma vehicles per year globally. Initial Chinese customer deliveries are expected to take place next fall.

Fisker is also developing a higher-volume line of premium electric vehicles with extended range, scheduled to start production in the fourth quarter of 2012. That vehicle is going by the codename Project Nina.

The new partnership with CGA brings to five the number of Fisker importers partnering with the maker around the world.  Fisker’s North American network consists of 42 retailers in 45 locations from coast to coast.

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