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.