After crashing and burning in a multi-billion-dollar failure, Fisker Automotive is back. More precisely, the now Chinese-owned Fisker Automotive and Technology Group is about to re-launch production of the plug-in hybrid known as the Karma at a new facility in Southern California.
Also known as FATG, the company expects to employ about 150 people at the plant it is setting up in Moreno Valley, not far from its U.S. corporate offices in Costa Mesa.
“FATG believes in the quality, work ethic and competitiveness of manufacturing in the United States,” said James Taylor, Chief Marketing Officer of FATG. “California’s natural beauty, trend setting, technology and environmental focus are perfectly aligned with our Karma re-launch.”
It wasn’t immediately clear how much of the work on the reborn Fisker Karma will be handled at the new California plant and how much of the vehicle will be assembled in China.
The original Fisker Automotive was launched by Henrik Fisker, a Danish designer best known for projects like the Aston Martin DB9. With the help of a federal loan, the start-up developed a sleek plug-in hybrid aimed at a similar sort of consumer buying the all-electric Tesla Model S.
(Fisker Karma set for revival. For more, Click Here.)
But Fisker immediately ran into a series of problems, including quality problems and several recalls of the Karma which came to market in 2011, several years late.
Production was halted in 2012 and the firm filed for bankruptcy in November 2013. Three months later, it was purchased by Chinese auto parts conglomerate Wanxiang Group. (Fisker’s battery supplier, A123, also was sold to the Chinese after declaring bankruptcy.)
Today’s announcement is the first formal commitment Wanxiang and its FATG subsidiary have made to returning to the U.S. market. They said previously they would sell an updated version of the Fisker Karma in China where the Beijing government is making a major push towards electrification in a bid to overcome the country’s endemic urban smog problems.
Fisker is apparently hoping to gain some traction in California, where the state is making a similar push.
(Click Here for details about Wanxiang buying Fisker out of bankruptcy.)
“The Governor has established ambitious goals for California to lead the world in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through the development and adoption of clean vehicle technologies,” said Michael Rossi, senior advisor on Jobs and Business Development to California Governor Jerry Brown. “I am proud to welcome Fisker Automotive’s new advanced manufacturing vehicle technology plant in Moreno Valley, California.”
California officials may also be pleased to win any new automotive jobs considering the fact that the industry has largely been abandoning the state in recent years. Toyota is migrating its U.S. headquarters to Texas. Honda has transferred a number of jobs to Ohio, and Nissan moved its own American operations to Tennessee a few years back. The only significant automotive assembly plant now operating in the Golden State is the Tesla factory in Fremont.
Specific plans for the revived Karma have not been revealed, but it is expected to be relatively similar to the original version, which paired a 20.1 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery with a four-cylinder gas engine provided by General Motors. The package delivered nearly 30 miles of range in electric mode and strong performance with its 400-horsepower drivetrain.
Also unclear is what the revived Fisker will charge for the Karma. It topped $100,000 in its first run.
(To see more about Nevada’s new “electric highway,” Click Here.)
FATG is believed to be looking at the Karma as its entry vehicle. Longer-term, reports from China have suggested the company will attempt to complete development of the smaller Fisker Atlantic. That model, never completed, was to be targeted at the automotive mainstream, much like Tesla plans to do with the all-electric Model III it plans to launch before the end of the decade.