China fisker-karma-2

Published on May 19th, 2014 | by Christopher DeMorro

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Wanxiang Wants Fisker To Take On Tesla

fisker-karma-2

Can Fisker’s new Chinese owners build a rival to Tesla Motors? Wanxiang Group’s billionaire owner Lu Guanqiu wants to do just that, or go broke trying. That’s a bold statement, but the pieces are all in place to make it happen. It’s China vs. America in the battle of the electric automakers.

Over the past couple of years, the Wanxiang Group has purchased Fisker Automotive, battery maker A123 Systems, and the former GM plant in Delaware to serve as the manufacturing base. While the question of what to call Fisker going forward remains up in the air, Lu left no question as to his intentions when it comes to Fiskers and automobiles in general. In an interview  at one of his Chinese factories, the billionaire said;

“I’ll put every cent that Wanxiang earns into making electric vehicles. I’ll burn as much cash as it takes to succeed, or until Wanxiang goes bust.”

Perhaps not the message that shareholders want to hear, but music to the ears of every EV advocate in both China and America. Tesla’s undisputed dominance of the electric car market is only a good thing for so long, as it can still be ruled an exception rather than the new rule. But if Fisker can make a comeback and build a new line of electric vehicles to rival Tesla, other automakers that are still wishy-washy on electric vehicles will be forced to reevaluate their game plans.

So why does Lu want to build electric vehicles? Because he concedes that Wanxiang has no technical advantage over conventional automakers, and notes that the technology gap between Chinese and other automakers is, frankly, massive. But electric vehicles are still in their infancy, and having acquired both a battery maker and a hybrid automaker, Wanxiang is well positioned to step into this wide open market with a new, U.S.-made Fisker Karma and a finally-finished Fisker Atlantic.

Is a Tesla rival really in the making? With Lu saying he is all-in, the self-made billionaire is finally making good on his long-held dream of building a car company. He wouldn’t be the first tractor maker to start a successful car company, after all.

Source: Bloomberg



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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or esle, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.



  • egogg

    This is great and all, but I hope they have the reserve cash to make some refinements to the Karma before it goes back on the market. Like making it so that the engine doesn’t sound like a ratty Fiero straining to break 60.

  • philb

    Egogg I believe they are going to take the electric only lane. Wanxiang likely views that electric is going to be the way to go in the end. New technology in battery as well as an upgraded grid could virtually eliminate fossil fuels. You could see electrics in the future with 10 to 20 min charge times and 500 plus mile range within the next 3 years. Engine noise is not likely going to be a problem for future versions of the Karma or future Fisker designs. I also believe that hydrogen is going to be a hard sell in the future do to storage and stability of it. On the top of the issues that I pointed out is fuel cells using rare earth metals like platinum will make problematic in the future.

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