Money isn't the only problem Fisker Automotive has with making more Karma plug-in hybrids (see: battery supply), but the California startup may soon have the cash to help resume production of its $100,000 plug-in luxury sedan. Zhejiang Geely Holding Group has the edge in taking a majority stake in the troubled automaker, according to two confidential insider sources close to Fisker.
Fisker executives have been holding meetings in China with Geely, owner of Sweden's Volvo, and with state-owned Dongfeng Motor Group Co. The two offers reportedly received by Fisker within the last three weeks were worth between $200 million to $300 million, and both would give a majority stake to the new investor, the sources told Fox Business. The companies involved have declined to comment.
While both Chinese companies are interested, Geely is "more serious" and "passionate" about Fisker and its technology, one of the sources said. The company is also able to move more quickly than Dongfeng, which is hampered by the multi-layered decision-making structure within its Chinese-government ownership. Southern California-based Fisker is under a tight deadline to find a suitor, which certainly favors Geely, the source said.
"Most of all, with Geely we're dealing with one decision maker," the individual said, referring to its charismatic founder and chairman, Li Shufu. Geely's leader is considered an important player in the transaction and has experience from his role in Geely's acquisition of Volvo from Ford Motor Company in 2010. Geely has also sent a team of engineers to Anaheim, CA, to evaluate Fisker and its technology, the sources said.
The deal would theoretically give Fisker the funds to start building its second and more affordable model, the Atlantic plug-in hybrid, which is expected to start at around $55,000 and could become Fisker's high-volume vehicle. It's been about seven months since production stopped on Fisker's only vehicle, the Karma, but Fisker's CEO said recently that it will be starting up again soon.
As with the A123 sale before it (which did go to the Chinese company Wanxiang), the potential Fisker deal is getting some political criticism. US Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) told Bloomberg, "Like A123, this looks like another example of taxpayer dollars going to a failed experiment. Technology developed with American taxpayer subsidies should not be sold off to China."