Biden To Announce Fisker Auto Plant In Wilmington Delaware

imagesVice President Joe Biden is set to make an appearance in his home state of Delaware today to make an announcement that Fisker Automotive will be purchasing, retooling and opening up operations in a shuttered former General Motors facility in Wilmington. From the Washington Post:

Vice President Biden will make the announcement that Fisker Automotive of Irvine, Calif., is expected to invest $175 million to retool the plant.

Fisker, which will pay the old GM $18 million for the facility and equipment, is getting tax incentives from the state of Delaware, although officials there declined Monday to say how much.

Fisker plans to make a car in Delaware that is being developed under the name “Project Nina” after the ship belonging to explorer Christopher Columbus. Russell Datz, a Fisker spokesman, said that the project’s name is meant to be “symbolic of the transfer from the old world to the new in terms of auto technology.” The car is expected to cost about $39,900 after tax incentives.

The Fisker facility is expected to create 2,000 jobs and will likely be operational by 2011. Administration officials said the deal will indirectly create another 3,000 jobs once the plant is fully operational, expected in 2014. Administration officials say that Fisker expects many of the jobs will go to former GM or Chrysler auto workers.

Time will tell, but on the front end this looks like a wonderful deal in a lot of ways. Fisker is a company that has been putting the pieces together behind the scenes for a couple of years for a major production move, and their initial prototype, and soon to be production model, the Karma, is absolutely stunning and, from all reports, technologically sound. Wilmington is an area that, while not as hard hit as Detroit, is certainly depressed and has been further decimated by the recent closing of the large GM plant there as well as a separate Chrysler plant. When fully up and running, the Fisker Nina plant in Wilmington may be able to reemploy many, if not most, of those orphaned workers.

The Fisker Nina will sell for approximately $39,000 after an anticipated $7,500 tax credit and has been described by the company as follows:

“Nina is the project name for a family oriented, user friendly plug-in hybrid featuring cutting edge technology, radical styling and world-class quality,” said Euslberg
It seems likely Fisker already has some significant design development underway, but perhaps no sold models. However, we are going to have to wait a while before seeing any of them. “We are not currently releasing designs,” he said.

The car will use lithium ion batteries for energy storage. Like the Karma, the new vehicle will also source its batteries from Indiana-based EnerDel (NASDAQ: HEV).

Fisker will be using level 2 or 240 Volt home chargers built by Lear.

Engineering Architecture
The Karma is utilizing an extended-range electric architecture wherein the car is always powered by the electric motor, and can deliver up to 50 all electric miles, with the gas range extender going on after that.

Even more interesting is the synergy and interplay at work by the government (presumably with Ed Montgomery having a large hand) below the surface. Fisker will be paying GM $18 million for the plant and is expected to invest up to $175 million to retool and fit the plant for their needs and, conveniently, Fisker was awarded last month a $528 million loan from the US Department of Energy’s $25 billion Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Program. The ATVMP is designed to encourage the domestic design and manufacture of new battery technology and electric cars. And, of course, the US government is now a substantial stakeholder in GM itself. If this works, it is a marvelous and efficient interjection of government seed and green stimulus money and everybody will benefit.

It is nice to get this project for Wilmington Delaware, and it is surely needed there. Now that Vice President Biden’s backyard has been greened, how about Michigan? If there is any place in America that could use just this kind of stimulus more than Michigan, it is hard to figure where it would be. And Michigan would have been prime for Fisker as they just opened a design and engineering facility in Pontiac Michigan last year. Fisker may not be able to handle a second new facility this quickly, but surely the Obama Administration can find some analogous love to spread around in the state most desperate for it.

71 replies
      • BoxTurtle says:

        And I’d love to have it in one of the Dayton Oh plants!

        Every area of the country with connections to the auto industry has taken a hit. We’ve ALL got available space and trained workers. You can argue that we should go to the hardest hit areas first, but from a business standpoint Wilmington has a lot more positives than Detroit.

        Boxturtle (or Dayton, for that matter)

        • phred says:

          When I see Fisker, I think scissors — so I’m not so sure I want to see one in my driveway ; )

          {Ok, before the quilters get on my case, I know it’s Fiskar, but still… }

  1. Loo Hoo. says:

    Dang! What a pretty car. It seems like for the last 40 it’s been a contest to see how ugly American cars can be. What a wonderful reversal!

    • phred says:

      Thanks for the heads up Loo Hoo. I just sent Toyota an email letting them know that when I replace my 2001 Prius next year, I will not be buying another one unless they change their position. I doubt it will change anything, but I feel better : )

      I’m guessing Toyota decided to take a page out of Whole Foods’ book and thought little of pissing off a significant fraction of their customer base. Brilliant.

        • phred says:

          I already got a reply to my email. An excerpt:

          Toyota is a member of a wide array of groups and organizations. Our association with these groups does not signify that we agree with all of their policies. It means we are there to have a dialogue and engage in making good policy.

          To which I replied:

          Fair enough. I am glad you are engaged in “making good policy”. I would very much like to know more about the policy you are advocating. Is it cap and trade, a carbon tax, or something else entirely? How would you like to see it implemented? Are you planning to publicly state your policy preferences and clarify where your position differs from the Chamber of Commerce?

          I look forward to receiving a detailed response.

          I’ll let you know if they get back to me with anything more than the standard brushoff.

            • phred says:

              Here is the link to the “Contact Us” page at Toyota. Second from the bottom of their list is a link to “Email Toyota”. I clicked that link and sent email from there.

              It is possible that because I put “Chamber of Commerce” in the subject line that I got an automated response.

              I haven’t yet received a reply to my reply to them, not that I am surprised. I think it is doubtful that anyone at Toyota really wants to be my penpal at the moment ; )

            • perris says:

              here’s the lutz blog although that’s not where it was originally posted and I don’t think all the comments are up at that link

              it was titled “may the best car win in action”

              he was talking about cadilac performance vs bmw and all challengers

              I made the point, cadilac wasn’t suffering as much from performance failures as much as they were suffering from a quality reputation

              cadilacs hace a reputation for being 100,000 mile cars as oposed to their competitors that are cnisdered 300000 mile cars

              i don’t know if they’ve fixed their miserable longevity issues but I think they have, if so they need to market from that perspective as well as performance

              • Petrocelli says:

                Well done Perris ! I’m waiting for my chance to wring Lutz out, but not for free … *g* … he’ll have to pay me tons of $$$, cuz apparently that’s the only time he listens …

                • bmaz says:

                  Personally, I like Lutz a lot; he is a legendary car guy irrespective of the global warming view. And he has done some good there too; he is singlehandedly the reason the Volt program is alive at GM.

          • Petrocelli says:

            I got the same Form Letter reply as well …

            Toyota supports economy-wide reductions of greenhouse gases. With respect to vehicles, automobiles are best addressed by performance standards, such as CAFE, the upcoming EPA GHG regulations, and the harmonized rules now being developed by NHTSA and EPA that will address CO2 emissions from the vehicle. That is why TMS President Jim Lentz stood with President Obama at the White House last May to support a national program to address greenhouse gases from vehicles.

            • phred says:

              Yep, I figured it had to be an auto-response given how fast it appeared. Weasels. Still no reply to my reply. So much for valuing my feedback as a customer ; )

              • Petrocelli says:

                Give them a call or send a letter to their President … people have done this many times for smaller issues and the majority get favorable responses.

        • phred says:

          Click the link Loo Hoo posted in her comment #4 and read the article at the Guardian about the love fest between Toyota and the Chamber of Commerce.

          If you haven’t yet heard, several companies have officially left the Chamber because of its active opposition to climate change legislation. Toyota apparently isn’t planning to be one of them. Hence, Toyota Prius owners are mightily offended that the company that built and sold them “green” cars is opposing legislation that would help us reduce carbon emissions.

    • jayt says:

      And now Toyota is against cap and trade and is sticking with the Chamber of Commerce.

      They chose… poorly.

    • jayt says:

      …when my brain sees “Fisker” it thinks “busker”. I don’t know how to drive that thought away…

      well, to pre-order – the *deposit* on the Karma is $25,000.00. Does that help?

      Still, that’s a fine looking automobile.

      • Jim White says:

        Sorry, that doesn’t help at all. And as I said, I have no basis for the thought and think the car looks like fun.

        [Not to hint or anything, but my birthday is coming up next week…]

  2. oldtree says:

    I must be missing something of substance that would justify the story. A luxury car, subsidized by one of our states and likely federal funding, that doesn’t yet exist, is big news.
    A car that runs on gas is not news. A car that runs on electricity would be. This one does both. Delaware wants to become the next Detroit, where all the talent to make vehicles resides.
    I guess the contradiction is the amount of money spent to create a product that has to be sold to rich people. No one else gets auto loans today. The state won’t say how much they are putting in the pot. Why? That implies a boondoggle benefitting someone. The people put out of work will get a job back, excellent. But how much investment compared to how many jobs? Unknown, right?
    Until that is a known factor, this looks like a giveaway to the rich, and a helping hand to 3000 potential workers if the science is sound enough to make the car.
    We do grasp at the strangest straws, don’t we? There never seems to be any thought of making an affordable vehicle for people that need one, have an income, and want clean technology. Luxury vehicles for people that don’t need auto loans in the first place. The new amurkan way? The illogic is making my sensibilities collide.

  3. lefty27 says:

    I’m skeptical about this car not knowing too many details, even considering how many jobs will be created by a successful startup.

    But to my eyes it looks like it could have been designed by GM itself. Kind of a cross between a Riviera and a Solstice. Hysterical barbershop quartet moustache grill. Body lines all swoopy and lumpy, like a swayback horse. And a hybrid? They should go Electric only and soon. Honda and Toyota will crush them.

    • bmaz says:

      First off, I have seen the prototype on film (it is out there if you look) and the car is fucking gorgeous and very sexy. Secondly, neither Honda nor Toyota have anything remotely close to the Karma; their pissant econoboxes will be no competition whatsoever. The Karma is a niche product and is not designed to compete with anything from Honda or Toyota. Not to mention that it is hard to see how Toyota is going to crush anybody these days; they make incredibly boring models that all get recalled for defects.

  4. Leen says:

    Keep wondering when we are going to see any of those manufacturing jobs making wind turbines, blades and other wind energy components in Ohio, Michigan, Penn etc that they keep telling us about?

    this at Mcclatchey (unable to link)

    Wind turbine imports increase; Can U.S. factories catch up?
    According to the U.S. International Trade Commission:

    •The number of companies assembling nacelles (the big box that sits on the tower containing the gear box and generator) went from one in 2004 — GE Wind — to five in 2008 — Clipper Windpower of Carpinteria, Calif.; Acciona and Gamesa of Spain, and the Composite Technology Corp. subsidiary DeWind of Irvine, Calif. Five other foreign firms plan to build U.S. plants.

    •At least 11 blade manufacturers and 16 tower manufacturers have plants or plan to open plants in the United States.

    •The new plants announced in the first three quarters of 2008 could add 4,000 jobs, at wages generally between $13 and $20 per hour.

    •Imports leveled off from $2.4 billion in 2007 to $2.5 billion in 2008. That could indicate more U.S. production taking up some of the demand at a time when wind energy grew dramatically. That’s not entirely clear from import data, however, because turbines don’t always arrive in the same year they’re installed.

    The American Wind Energy Association estimates that the share of U.S.-made parts in wind turbines increased from 30 percent in 2005 to nearly 50 percent at the end of 2008

  5. perris says:

    I have a car built from the willmington plant, it’s the pontiac solstice gxp

    this car looks tons like that fiscar up there and with a body kit you couldn’t tell the differance

    a while back there was a company that offered for this car some kind of electric conversion that boasted similar excelleration and top end with a 150 mile range, pretty inexpensiive conversion too, about 25000 dollars I think

    then last month there were reports that delorean motor company, (supposedly still around selling parts for the car) was interested in buying the plant and rebading the solstice

    I speculated back then that if tesla motors was ever pitched this plant and they could buy the kappa platform (the solstice and sky are kappa platform) they would do the deal

    seems I wasn’t too far off the mark but I wonder if fisker is going to be using any of the kappa platform

    a wonderful platform, I wonder if they are going to be getting the platform and tooling in the deal

    • bmaz says:

      Perris, I was going to mention that in response to Boxturtle above, I think the Wilmington plant probably is very attractive to Fisker because the size and general layout of car previously produced there matches up well with what Fisker will be producing and the tooling that will be able to be converted for the new production is still very new as the Solstice has not been out long. It really is probably as perfect a scenario as they could find.

      • perris says:

        they used a manufacturing technology which is highly adaptable called “hydroforming”

        it does wha it says, hydroforms instead of tooling, this was done for the chassi as well as the body parts

        it’s interesting, it saves on tool-up but is part expensive, so on low production cars this expensive technique saves money, on high production cars this technique loses money

        sound perfect for the fisker

  6. alank says:

    This is ridiculous: Here’s a fat wad of cash from the public treasury, blow it on something useless.

    There was a time when auto manufacture actually took place here, not just assembly and not just by auto combines. There was an era of regional companies across the country. There’s no reason why everything vehicular made in this country has to originate from Detroit. That is the only merit I see in this otherwise hare brained scheme.

    • perris says:

      you know, I have no problems with tax breaks for start up companies, especially when the investment helps develope an industry we need developing

      in this case I am talking about alternative fuel

      this is not a waste of money by any stretch, I might hope that had some strings attached like “must be made entirely in the us” or “all components bought must come from companies that provide for a union or living wage”

      never the less, this is not a bad tax investment as far as i can see

  7. perris says:

    a very important point;

    companies like toyota could not have existed without government subsidies, nor could it have succeeded without protectionsims

    thom hartmann does a great job here, this is titled “obama drinks friedman kool aid” and it’s a really good article

    • perris says:

      that’s obusrd

      union labort gives the best value for the dollar, produce the best product and cost the rest of teh country far less then non union labor

      non union labor is subsidized by you tinman, in retirement, school, health care

      when you use non living wage labor everyone else pays for that companies labor force, a union prevents that

      however corporate propaganda gets people believing unions are somehow bad for the economy

      corporations have done a marvelous job marketing people like your self to lobby againsts themselves and their own children

      well done tinman

    • laborite57 says:

      Please, save the gratuitous union-bashing for RedState.

      I’m looking forward to learning what agreements have been made about unionizing this new plant. Will the employees work under the essential terms of the latest GM contract, or will there be a sweetheart deal especially for Fisker?

      There damn well better be some union protections in this deal, since it appears that it is being supported with a huge amount of public money.

  8. Mary says:

    OT – Wapo article on Afghan induced resignation of US Official.

    “I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan,” [Hoh] wrote Sept. 10 in a four-page letter to the department’s head of personnel. “I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end.”

    All of which prompted a month of arm twisting to keep him in the fold. Including a face to face with Holbrooke, who made the insidious argument that all the torture lawyers (bc now they are ALL torture lawyers) at DOJ have made – gosh, if you’re one of the good guys, you have to stay on and try to work within the torture advocacy regiem to change it, from the inside. Holbrooke

    asked Hoh to join his team in Washington, saying that “if he really wanted to affect policy and help reduce the cost of the war on lives and treasure,” why not be “inside the building, rather than outside, where you can get a lot of attention but you won’t have the same political impact?”

    Hoh bought that, for a bit. Not much of a bit. A week. Then he realized that working for a regime propagating what he didn’t believe in and couldn’t support internally was wrong. Apparently he was swayed by his inner peacenik hippie. Or not:

    “There are plenty of dudes who need to be killed,” he said of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. “I was never more happy than when our Iraq team whacked a bunch of guys.”

    I guess, given my Miller-time spent learning how not to be ironic, there is no comparative American political analogy to be drawn from this topic of discussion in his resignation letter:

    He concluded, he said in his resignation letter, that the war “has violently and savagely pitted the urban, secular, educated and modern of Afghanistan against the rural, religious, illiterate and traditional. It is this latter group that composes and supports the Pashtun insurgency.”

  9. perris says:

    you know lutz has a blog where I handed it to him on his global warming denial

    I made the point;

    “it doesn’t matter if you don’t think there’s global warming, what does matter is you missed an incredible marketing oportunity, creating product, technology and research that would have paid dividends in return for investment”

    everyone else on the blog handed it to him as well, I’ll try to get the link

    • bmaz says:

      So far, the quality of the Tesla product has been fairly questionable. Elon Musk is not a car guy, he is a wonderkid from PayPal. Personally, I would take the Fisker in a heartbeat over a Tesla.

    • ferrarimanf355 says:

      I’d rather have the Fisker, because Henrik Fisker is nowhere near the pompous asshole that Tesla CEO Elon Musk is.

  10. Tdash says:

    Theoretically, with smartgrid technology and “peak time” pricing these electric cars can pull electricity off the grid at night with a lower cost of electricity, store it in their batteries and sell the surplus back to the grid during the day during peak times.

    This should be a stop gap until we can collapse the grid altogether and have fuel cells at the point of consumption that emit only oxygen as H2O is converted to 2 negative H ions and Oxygen.

    A guy can dream, can’t he?

    • billybugs says:

      How ’bout an electric car that can be recharged by power collected from the sun
      An absolutely renewable energy source that is absolutely free

      I can dream too !

      • bmaz says:

        Fisker is set to offer an option of high tech solar collectors embedded into the roof of its hardtop models. Check out their website.

        • KenMuldrew says:

          That is one beautiful car, but those solar panels on the roof are surely just to run an air conditioner to keep the interior cool; it would take weeks to generate enough juice to run the car for any substantial distance. Still, if you live in Arizona, a cool interior is probably as important as a heater is here in Canada.

          The lithium-ion batteries are a bit worrisome, too. Having used LiFePO4 batteries all summer for an ebike, I can say that it is a remarkable technology. Very robust and they never even get warm. Of course you can’t dump charge the way you need to for a vehicle like the Karma, so perhaps they had no choice.

          I sure hope Fisker thrives.

          • bmaz says:

            I think they have a real shot Ken. They have had a plan and have been executing on it. I first learned of them about a year and half ago through a couple of investment bankers helping them raise some money. What they said they were going to do, and the timetable for doing it, has played out pretty impressively. I think this Wilmington Delaware bit announced today is the real key for them. Their plan was to start off with a limited production high end model and then ramp up production capability for ever more affordable models based on the prototype technology. The Wilmington plant is ready made to set them up for just that with the Nina platform. It is pretty exciting.

    • Petrocelli says:

      There are a lots of bright people working on these same dreams right now. The biggest issues of power storage and creating Hydrogen economically have had some breakthroughs and research is ongoing. Linky

      Overall, conservation is the best and cheapest method to reduced emissions from all consumption. It’s not as ‘sexy’ as Cars that run completely as Solar power but it is the nearest achievable goal to reduce GHG.

  11. Becca says:

    Nice looking car and a great feature set, but at $39k that’s still too expensive for the average person. One of the great charms of the Prius and an explanation as to why it’s so popular is that it can be had in the low 20s. Even fully loaded, it’s under 30.

    • bmaz says:

      The Fisker is not designed to compete with a Prius; not all cars are intended for the average person. This (the Nina that will be produced in Wilmington) is intended for the entry luxury niche. It should also be noted that the car pictured is the Fisker Karma and retails for over $80,000 and is meant to compete with Tesla, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Porshe Panamera, BMW 6 Series and the Maserati Quattroporte. Prius is an econobox that is not really a valid discussion point compared to a Fisker.

  12. orionATL says:

    by the way, where did fisker come from?

    are they new?

    new to automotive?

    a boutique automotive manufacturer?

    • bmaz says:

      Henrik Fisker is a designer born in Denmark that has been operating out of a studio in Southern California (Irvine) for quite a while. He did a lot of the design refinement for the newer Ford lines, Aston Martin DB 9 and Vantage and on the BMW Z Series vehicles as well as consulting with other companies. He has been quietly assembling the prototype for the Karma that is pictured and production capability for nearly three years under the name Fisker Automotive; financed by private investors, venture capitalists and, now, the govt. loan described in the post.

  13. orionATL says:

    thanks, bmaz.

    “Henrik Fisker is a designer…”

    that explains why the interior shot of the “eco sport” with its stylish steering wheel caught my attention.

  14. hctomorrow says:

    I just want to know where all the lithium for these li-ion cars that everyone’s rushing to make is supposed to come from. If we’re not very careful we could just end up in hock to Bolivia and China instead of Saudi Arabia.

    I also think we should be very, very skeptical of these deals where a company is given big tax breaks and loans to ‘create jobs’. My former home town of Indianapolis loved to give out deals like that, left and right, and it’s ruined them.

  15. alinaustex says:

    There supposedly is a design team in Shanghai working on a “solar centripetal charged electric car” The gist of the concept is that a portable carport made up entirely of state of the art solar cells are used to mechanically load a centrifuge during daylight hours. Then when the car comes home at night the ccentifuge revereses its direction and that mechanical power is used to charge the car batteries all night.
    Its been described to me as the “twisted rubber band ” recharge system. Has anyone heard of this system/design coming from the PRC ?
    Slightly OT -fuel cells are starting also to come into there own – a prototype air force drone has had good success using an electric fuel cell engine – Attackerman had an article listed last week but I am not internet tubes adroit enough to provide a link -but the drone had a full payload -could this not be adapted for our civilan cars ?

  16. onwatch says:

    Don’t you think a little Design Gestalt Adjustment is needed here with the ‘Karma’. This thing looks like Salvador Dali!

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