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Published on May 21st, 2014 | by Christopher DeMorro

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Billionaire Lu Guanqiu Determined To Make Fisker A Competitor With Tesla… Or Go Broke Trying

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May 21st, 2014 by
 

Originally published on Gas2.

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, US-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.



  • jonam

    Good.Healthy Competition is now all too vital for the sleepy electric technology to open up challenges.
    If this trend continues,Electric vehicles will soon be in the hands of average earners.
    Will I be able to trade in my Toyota Corolla just bought last year atleast to compensate for the down-payment.I didnot know this would happen soon.I thought that the Tesla Roadster and electric stuff was for the millionaires and never affordable.Those people buying petrol or diesal cars from now on are in for big losses in future.

  • Champs

    With an attitude like that, it will go bust. Over inflated egos don’t make it in any business and are not good financially at all. Secondly has any one seen the specs of this car? They are in my opinion going down the wrong path. Eventually will end up with pure electric and will need cheap batteries and won’t be able to beat out the tesla gigafactory. Nevertheless I think there is space in the market for second grade electric cars in the short run as long as range exceeds 200mi on pure electric. Other automakers will be forced to follow. Eventually advanced ultra capacitors should be the final game changer. Any one first to market with that should win big.

  • Benjamin Nead

    Man, I hope I’m not the only one who is sick and tired of hearing about one percenters making so-called green products that only other one percenters
    can afford. As an EV advocate, this is not “music to my ears” but, rather,
    self-indulgent cacophony.

    If Lu Guanqiu wants to do something really useful while burning up his money (sadly, usefulness doesn’t seem to be his motivation,) he would adapt his existing A123 batteries to an affordable medium range EV, manufacture lots of those and GIVE THEM AWAY to multitudes of average Chinese people who have aging gasoline automobiles that pollute the air.

    • wattleberry

      They would have to give them away as, despite appearances, cars, along with owning any kind of dwelling, are far out of reach to all except the minority middle-classes.

  • Tina S

    The biggest cost with fisker was in the batteries now they set out to make an elite luxury sedan but that limited there market and development potential now if they were to make a unit that was all electric EV with an expansive range at a cost that was similar to a mid level sedan Wanxiang would not only have a chance they would beat the market.

    they would defiantly need to look at different batteries as that will be the point that determines the winner they could go back an try http://www.google.com/patents/WO2013116950A1#! battery/fuel cell hybrid again which was in development before fisker s financial difficulties and with it being a Chinese darling may be the chemistry change that is behind Waxiangs motivation!

  • Jouni Valkonen

    good luck!

    They cannot compete with plug-in hybrids because the plug-in hybrid market niche is too small and there are cars such as Porsche Panamera hybrid and Lexus hybrids.

    Fisker should go for all electric version, because in that niche there is plenty of room even in the luxury segment, where profitability is really good.

    Although it is impossible with iron-phosphate batteries, because they have too low energy density. I wonder, if A123 can adapt into some other battery chemistries with higher energydensity, and yet good enough resiliency, powerdensity and price.

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