Fisker Won’t Ever Produce Cars at Former GM Plant, Carper Says

Dec 20, 2013 12:00 am ET

Dec. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Fisker Automotive Holdings Inc., the bankrupt electric-car maker, won’t use the shuttered General Motors Co. plant it bought in Delaware even if its new owner resumes production, U.S. Senator Tom Carper said.

Fisker, whose assets are being bought by a group led by Richard Li, son of Hong Kong’s richest man, is required under an agreement with the U.S. government to make its Karma luxury car somewhere in the country, though it probably won’t be in Delaware, Carper said yesterday in an interview at Bloomberg’s Washington office.

The company, supported by U.S. loans on which it defaulted at a $139 million loss to taxpayers, also will probably take production of any future models overseas, the Delaware Democrat said.

“I’m a glass-half-full guy, but it’s hard to see how this ends up with Fisker building cars in Delaware,” Carper said.

Carper, previously Delaware’s governor, was one of Fisker’s political supporters along with Vice President Joe Biden, a former U.S. senator from the state. Fisker won a $529 million loan in 2009 from the U.S. Energy Department, receiving only $192 million before the rest was cut off for failing to meet production milestones on the $103,000 Karma.

A second model, called the Atlantic, was supposed to be made at the Delaware plant under the loan agreement. It was never produced. Fisker ceased production last year after its battery supplier declared bankruptcy, and most of its unsold cars were destroyed in Hurricane Sandy, which stuck parts of the East Coast in late October of 2012.

$139 Million

U.S. taxpayers lost $139 million of the $192 million Fisker received after Li’s group, Hybrid Tech Holdings LLC, agreed to pay the Energy Department $25 million to assume the debt.

Carper said he plans to meet with automakers that manufacture in the U.S. next month at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit to attract business and jobs to the shuttered GM plant.

“There might be some interest on the part of Delaware to control the destiny of that plant,” he said.

Hybrid pledged to implement a business plan that keeps design and engineering in California, where Fisker was based, and has manufacturing in the U.S., Aoife McCarthy, an Energy Department spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. The Karma was assembled in Finland.

McCarthy declined to comment on Carper’s statement that there are no plans to manufacture Fiskers in Delaware, referring the question to Hybrid.

Caroline Langdale, a spokeswoman for Hybrid who works for the Glover Park Group communications firm in Washington, declined to comment.

--Editors: Bernard Kohn, Don Frederick