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Fisker Karma
Electric car startup grows thanks to a government loan

Currently, California-based electric car startup Fisker automotive is sub-manufacturing its Karma plug-in electric vehicle through Valmet Automotive in Finland.  Now thanks to a loan of $528.7M USD from the Department of Energy, Fisker is moving the focus of its production -- and the money and jobs that goes with it -- to the United States.

The move became official at a press conference in Wilmington, Delaware this morning.  Joined by Delaware's Governor, Jack Markell, and Vice President Joe Biden, Fisker's founder and CEO Henrik Fisker officially announced his company's plans to purchase a closed GM plant and repurpose it to produce his company's electric vehicles.

The plant was built by GM in 1947 and was last used to produce the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky, both of which ended production last spring.  It is currently owned by Motors Liquidation, the government-organized bankruptcy holding from GM that is seeking to sell off the company's remaining stale assets.  Fisker will get the plant at a bargain price of $18M USD, leaving plenty of its loan funding for the retooling, employment, and distribution costs.  The refurbishing and retooling of the plant is estimated to cost $175M USD and will take three years to fully complete, though partial production may start before that.

The plant sits on a spacious 142 acres of land and features over 3.2 million square feet of floor space.  Once retooled, it will be used to build a new, more-affordable plug-in that Fisker is currently cooking up, codenamed "Project Nina".  Fisker plans to release this new vehicle by 2012 and reach production levels of 75,000-100,000 units annually by 2014 which is well above current Karma production levels.  The company says that half the production will be sold domestically and approximately half of the production will be exported and sold overseas, under his company's current plan.  It is targeting a price of under $40,000 for the vehicle, after federal tax credits, ironically similar to the speculated price of the 2011 Chevy Volt, produced by GM.

Mr. Fisker praised the plan for the new plant.  He describes, "This is a major step toward establishing America as a leader of advanced vehicle technology. Wilmington is perfect for high quality, low volume production and will soon be the proud builder of world-class, fuel-efficient Fisker plug-in hybrids."

Although Fisker's current overseas production plans have caught some flak, more criticism may be raised over the plant's use of unionized labor.  The plant will employ 2,000 workers, mostly UAW members.  The decision to keep the plant unionized is a rather atypical choice for a startup auto firm.  The plant will also lead to the employment of approximately 3,000 supplier jobs in the U.S.

Gary Casteel, UAW director responsible for the plant, cheered the decision to keep the plant unionized, stating, "It gives me great pride to give UAW Local 435 workers the opportunity to partner with Fisker Automotive to create a greener America by building a plug-in hybrid car that will compete globally."



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RE: An EV Startup with Union Workers??
By FITCamaro on 10/27/2009 6:29:01 PM , Rating: 4
Of course the UAW stayed. They're funded with government loans. Was probably a back room stipulation of getting the money.


By randomposter on 10/27/2009 8:55:37 PM , Rating: 5
Good thing you have the ability to track how stimulus money is being spent, and to report fraud taking place if you do in fact believe that is the case.

http://www.recovery.gov/Pages/home.aspx

Use the resources available to you and hold your government accountable.


By Nfarce on 10/27/2009 8:57:37 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Of course the UAW stayed. They're funded with government loans.


(You just have to love all the down ratings around here on posts like these). Yeah Fit, is that the same UAW that got handed control of GM when the Obama administration took a big massive dump on bond holders and turned controllership over to the UAW?


By 67STANG on 10/28/2009 3:34:07 PM , Rating: 2
Also, you can't forget that Fisker is backed by Al Gore. Al Gore was backed heavily by the UAW during his bid for the presidency. Old friends never forget old favors.


"It seems as though my state-funded math degree has failed me. Let the lashings commence." -- DailyTech Editor-in-Chief Kristopher Kubicki














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