If it weren't for billionaire Lu Guanqiu, founder of Chinese auto parts giant Wanxiang Group, the Fisker Automotive bankruptcy bailout deal might have closed earlier this month. Hong Kong tycoon Richard Li, along with Li's affiliate company Hybrid Tech Holdings, assumed their offer was going to be accepted. Instead, the US bankruptcy court judge called for an open auction bid for Fisker's assets on February 12. Lu made a few convincing points to the judge. There's another interesting part of the story that Lu didn't share it with the judge. If the Fisker deal doesn't work out, Lu and Wanxiang might increase their working relationship with Tesla Motors.
Lu told US bankruptcy judge Kevin Gross that Wanxiang, which now owns Fisker's supplier of lithium batteries, A123 Systems, is better placed than Hybrid Tech Holdings to restart and expand production at Fisker. Better yet, Wanxiang could move production from Finland to the US. That was convincing enough for Gross to schedule the auction.
Lu's move toward taking over ownership and restoring Fisker seems to be driven by two motivations: converting his company from a parts maker to an automaker; and to grow the yet-to-be profitable "new energy " business such as lithium battery and electric vehicle makers. For Lu, it's not so much about believing in Fisker – it's more about playing a leading role in electric vehicles – and that could come through deepening its connection to Tesla Motors. "Of course we want to pocket Fisker. But we will bid rationally," he said to Reuters. "Whatever the result, nothing can stop us from making electric cars."
Check out more about Lu in this Reuters piece, including how he and six other farmers pooled together $500 in 1969 to start what would become Wanxiang.