Will Chinese company rescue Delaware's Fisker hopes?
February 6, 2013By Mark Eichmann
Wanxiang Group Co. recently purchased Fisker battery supplier A123 Systems, fueling speculation that the company could also help secure Fisker's bottom line.
Fisker's efforts to produce a second model at the Boxwood Road assembly plant in Newport have been on hiatus since a portion of its loan from the federal Energy Department was frozen. Help from Wanxiang could help restart work at the old GM assembly plant that was expected to build Fisker's lower priced Atlantic model.
Fisker production was also hampered by the bankruptcy of A123 in October, but according to Bloomberg's Businessweek.com, the Chinese firm's purchase of A123 could soon help resuscitate the electric/gas hybrid maker. "It’s in our interest if we can help Fisker, in any way we could,” Wanxiang America Corp. president Pin Ni told Bloomberg.
He wouldn't say whether Wanxiang would invest in Fisker, but hinted that the company would offer some sort of help. "They’re a customer so it will be in our best interest to support them, as a vendor or possibly in a strategic alliance,” Ni said.
That phrase "strategic alliance" was also used by Fisker spokesman Roger Ormisher, who tells WHYY via email, "Once we have a strategic partnership or alliance in place then we can re-start work on the Atlantic and hopefully continue with our preparation with Delaware." Ormisher says a deal could be done soon. "We are in those talks at the moment and hope to make an announcement ASAP."
Governor Markell says the Fisker situation is uncertain. "They're working right now, they're searching for a partner," Markell said. "Fisker's been a difficult story, they've got a very good team of people. They've had their challenges and they're working hard right now to try to get through it."
The Fisker purchase of GM's old assembly plant in Newport was celebrated with great fanfare, even Vice President Joe Biden attended the announcement at the plant in 2009, but it seems like there's only been delay and disappointment since then.
The first Fisker cars produced at the Delaware plant were originally scheduled to hit the showroom floor this year. The original plan called for 75,000 to 100,000 vehicles to be produced in Delaware every year, creating 2,500 jobs. So far, not a single car has been made and Fisker workers in Delaware are only a tiny fraction of that optimistic 2,500 number.