Monday, May 19, 2014

New Fisker owner ready to go broke building EVs, challenging Tesla

Wanxiang Qianchao Co. Ltd. Chairman Lu Guanqiu poses for a p

Now this is the kind of fighting spirit we like to see. Lu Guanqiu is a Chinese billionaire who has visited the White House alongside Chinese president Hu Jintao in 2011. He's worth an estimated $3.1 billion. And he wants to take on Tesla Motors and other EV makers with his newly purchased company, Fisker Automotive.

Lu is the chairman and founder of China's Wanxiang Group Corp., which bought Fisker for just under $150 million earlier this year. It also purchased battery supplier A123 Systems last year. Speaking to Bloomberg recently, Lu said that EV technology is at the top of his list of ways to go broke. "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," he said. Ahhh, inspiring.

"I'll burn as much cash as it takes to succeed, or until Wanxiang goes bust" - Lu Guanqiu

Exactly how and when new Fisker vehicles come to market - or if they'll even be Fiskers when they do - has been the subject of some debate. As part of the Fisker bankruptcy auction, Lu and Wanxiang now own an old, empty General Motors plant in Wilmington, DE. Lu told Bloomberg that Wanxiang has plans to first start building EVs, including the Karma plug-in hybrid, in the US (which suggests that restarting Karma production at Valmet is not going to happen) and to later build them in China. Right now, Lu's company only makes one type of electric vehicle: buses. Lu told Bloomberg he knows it will take a while to get his electric cars to market: "The road is still very long. We want to concentrate for now on manufacturing in the US. If I don't succeed, my son will continue with it. If he doesn't make it, my grandson will."

Currently, emails sent to the "New Fisker" website are met with an automated response that promises a more personal touch later. It also says that the company is "very well funded and have a great plan to create a world class automotive company." That the new owner is ready to go broke doing so is not mentioned.

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