The move became official at a
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."
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.
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."