The remains of bankrupt Fisker Automotive are supposed to be sold by the Department of Energy to Hybrid Tech Holdings LLC for $25 million. But, the new year brings a new possibility for the troubled plug-in hybrid automaker and now we hear that Wanxiang America Corp. wants to jump in at the last minute and snatch Fisker up in a 'stalking horse' deal. A hearing is scheduled for tomorrow.
Stalking horse offers are intended to prevent undervalued deals from taking place. Since the DOE is reportedly losing $139 million on its Fisker holdings, it seems like any pressure to increase the $25 million bid would be welcomed. Wanxiang's bid isn't that much different than what Hybrid Tech Holdings was offering, though, since WHYY reports that Wanxiang is offering to pay "$24.7 million and will assume some of Fisker's liabilities."
The big difference is that a Wanxiang purchase could bring Fisker production back to life. In court documents, Wanxiang mentions a new Fisker design (a hatchback version of the Atlantic, pictured above) and proposed restarting Karma production at Valmet in Finland, the place where all of the Karmas built to date have been made. At an unspecified future date, production would be moved to VL Automotive's manufacturing facility in Michigan. Wanxiang calls VL a business partner, but you might remember it as the Bob-Lutz-connected company that wants to put small-block Corvette V8 engines into Karma bodies, creating the Destino. Lutz and Wanxiang previously tried to buy Fisker in early 2013. You can find the court documents below, and the concept is on page 11 of the Wanxiang Presentation. On page six you will find mention of a "Karma / Destino production line" and then on page 12 we hear about trucks, cargo vans and SUVs, all of which hints at Wanxiang's big dreams. How big? Wanxiang thinks it could sell 1,000 Karma/Destinos in the first 18 months in the US, along with 500 a year in Europe.
The big difference is that a Wanxiang purchase could bring Fisker production back to life.
The last stalking horse in the plug-in vehicle industry happened when Coda went under. Before that, Johnson Controls acted as a stalking horse against Wanxiang Group Corp. when Wanxiang bought the remains of A123 Systems. A123 batteries were used in the Fisker Karma powertrain, but the relationship between the two companies was troubled. Perhaps when everything is owned by the same corporate entity, things will run smoother. Wanxiang's documents certainly tell that story.
UPDATE: Fisker asks judge to deny Wanxiang's bid. Also, the hearing was pushed back a week due to the big snowstorm on the east coast.