Fisker Buys Ex-GM Plant, Will Build Affordable Plug-In Hybrid
Joined by Vice President Joe Biden and Delaware's Governor Jack Markell, fledgling plug-in hybrid entrepreneur Henrik Fisker announced that his firm has signed a letter of intent to purchase the shuttered GM assembly plant in Wilmington for $18 million and turn it into the new home of Fisker Automotive's Project NINA. When an additional $175 million in modifications and upgrades are completed, the facility will turn out a new line of more affordable mainstream plug-in hybrid sedans to complement the high-profile Karma luxury model that will be made by Valmet in Finland and go on sale here next summer. Fisker says the still-unnamed Project NINA vehicle, which is due to start production sometime in 2012, will cost under $40,000 after federal tax credits -- or less than half of the least-expensive Karma. Ironically, that would put the car in near-direct competition with GM's upcoming Chevrolet Volt.
Fisker acquired the dormant Delaware facility from Motors Liquidation, which is the holding organization of the "Old" GM which is now selling off the remaining assets through a bankruptcy court. This purchase of the previous home of the Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Sky and Opel GT was made possible as the result of a $528.7 million conditional loan Fisker received via the Department of Energy's $25-billion Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program (ATVM). ATVM was approved by congress in 2007 to help the U.S. lead in the development and manufacturing of advanced technology vehicles. According to Fisker, the Wilmington Assembly plant was selected for its size, production capacity, world-class paint facilities, and access to shipping ports, rail lines and available skilled workforce. He forecasts that Project NINA will ultimately create or support 2,000 factory jobs and more than 3,000 vendor and supplier jobs by 2014, assuming that production ramps up to its full capacity of 75,000-100,000 vehicles per year. Fisker also anticipates that over half of the "affordable family-style sedans" built there will be exported, which would be the largest percentage of any domestic manufacturer.