Fisker Automotive to reopen GM plant to build hybrid vehicles

fiskerkarmaWilmington, Del. — Fisker Automotive is purchasing a former General Motors Corp. (GM) factory in Wilmington, Delaware, to produce long-range, plug-in electric hybrid vehicles. The company expects to build between 75,000 and 100,000 of the vehicles annually by 2014.

Fisker Automotive has signed a letter of intent with Motors Liquidation Co. (MLC), formerly known as General Motors Corp., to purchase the Wilmington plant for $18 million after a routine four-month evaluation period.

The funding comes from part of a $528.7 million conditional loan awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) last month; the fourth conditional loan commitment under DOE’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program.

The Wilmington assembly plant was selected by Fisker Automotive for its primary global production facility based on its size, production capacity, and access to shipping ports, rail lines and skilled workforce.

Of the total Fisker loan, $359 million is going to revive manufacturing at the Boxwood Plant in Delaware in support of Fisker’s NINA, a mass-market plug-in hybrid sedan. Production is scheduled to begin in late 2012.

Fisker Automotive anticipates Project NINA will ultimately create or support 2,000 factory jobs and more than 3,000 vendor and supplier jobs by 2014, as production ramps up to full capacity of 75,000-100,000 vehicles per year. More than half will be exported, the largest percentage of any domestic manufacturer, according to the company.

The White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers played a key role in the revival of the Delaware plant.

Fisker Automotive plans to use the remaining $169.3 million in ATVM loans for engineering work in Michigan and California to complete the company’s first vehicle, the Fisker Karma as well as to develop manufacturing processes for the Boxwood Plant and to design the tools and equipment for manufacturing its plug-in hybrids.

The company’s first car, the Fisker Karma, is said to be the world’s first production plug-in hybrid when it goes on sale this summer at retailers in the U.S. and Europe.

Fisker automobiles are driven by electric motors powered by a lithium-ion battery, and for long drives, the battery is supplemented by a generator, which is driven by a fuel-efficient gasoline engine.

DOE will make additional loans under the ATVM program in the upcoming months to large and small auto manufacturers and parts suppliers.

“This is proof positive that our efforts to create new jobs, invest in a clean energy economy and reduce carbon pollution are working,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu, in a statement. “We are putting Americans back to work and reigniting a new Industrial Revolution that is paramount for the economic success of this country.”

In addition, plug-in hybrids and other electric vehicles will also become an important part of the smart-grid infrastructure being created in the United States. With smart metering, consumers and utilities will be able to charge these vehicles when electricity demand and prices are lowest and also when power from intermittent renewable resources like wind and solar are more available, said the DOE.

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