Fisker and new Chinese owner to restart Karma production this year

Mon Feb 24, 2014 12:52am EST
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By Norihiko Shirouzu

BEIJING (Reuters) - U.S.-based Fisker Automotive, which has been acquired by China's largest auto parts company, plans to restart production of its Karma plug-in hybrid luxury car "within a year" and will also complete the half-finished development of a second model, according to a senior executive.

Pin Ni, head of the U.S. unit of the Wanxiang Group, which acquired Fisker's assets for $149.2 million in a U.S. bankruptcy auction, said Fisker plans to restart production of the Karma as early as this year at its plant in Finland and start selling Karma cars again in the United States and Europe.

The car, a hybrid-electric vehicle equipped with a small gasoline engine that kicks in when its on-board battery is depleted, was previously sold at a starting price of around $100,000 before Fisker ceased production in 2012 after a series of missteps and recalls.

Ni said the Hangzhou-based Wanxiang is finalizing business plans for Fisker and doesn't have a forecast for how many Karmas it plans to sell.

"Obviously we want to sell more than what Fisker sold before under its previous management," Ni said. "We would like to restart Karma production within a year."

Fisker, which began selling the Karma in 2011, sold a total of 1,800 before it suspended production, falling far short of initial projections that it would sell 11,000 sedans by early 2012.

Once sales gain steam, Ni said Fisker could quickly commence production of the Karma in the United States.

There are several options for U.S. production, he said, including cooperating with "a potential partner out of Michigan."   Continued...

The Fisker automotive electric Atlantic sedan logo is seen during its unveiling ahead of the 2012 International Auto Show in New York April 3, 2012. REUTERS/Allison Joyce