MORENO VALLEY, California — A revived Fisker Automotive, which declared bankruptcy in 2013 and was acquired by Chinese automotive parts giant Wanxiang Group, disclosed this week that it is leasing a plant in a Riverside County industrial park to restart production of the Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid luxury sport sedan.
The car, once considered a potential rival to the Tesla Model S, is an exotic four-place battery-electric sport sedan designed by former Ford and Aston Martin designer Henrik Fisker. It uses a turbocharged four-cylinder engine as a power generator to extend its range. The company called it an EVer — Electric Vehicle, extended range.
Fisker Automotive and Technology Group, as the company is now called, could hire as many as 150 workers for the plant, according to city economic development officials in Moreno Valley, where the new Fisker plant is to be located. The city released details about Fisker's manufacturing plans.
Fisker executives could not be reached for comment, but the company's Web site presently lists 122 open jobs, most of them for engineers and production managers. About 200 people are employed at Fisker's new headquarters in Costa Mesa, California.
A new Karma would compete in the luxury sport sedan market against the BMW i8 and the Tesla Model S, which dominates the electric-drive segment, and against conventionally powered models from brands such as Aston Martin, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz.
In addition to the relaunch of the Karma, the new Fisker Automotive also intends to bring a lower-cost plug-in hybrid called the Fisker Atlantic to market, perhaps as early as 2017.
Like the Karma, the Atlantic was designed by Henrik Fisker — who also did early Tesla Model S design work as a consultant to Tesla Motors.
An Atlantic concept was shown to potential investors and customers at a series of private events in 2011 and displayed at the 2012 New York Auto Show, just a few months before the company ceased production in a downward spiral that led to its 2013 bankruptcy and eventual sale to Wanxiang.
Though costly at $100,000, the long, low and wide Karma was fairly well received by critics. Helped by a $539 million federal loan from a program for advanced vehicle manufacturers, Fisker purchased a shuttered General Motors plant in Delaware and announced plans to build the Atlantic there. The Karma was built under contract in Finland.
But the Delaware plant was never made ready for production and only about 2,500 Karmas were sold before the company collapsed.
Fisker Automotive was founded in 2007 and began production of the Karma in 2011. But it was crippled by a series of financial mishaps capped by the loss of more than 300 of the $100,000 cars that were flooded in a New Jersey storage lot during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Unable to repay a $139 million federal loan and facing almost a billion dollars in creditors' claims, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2013, shortly after co-founder Henrik Fisker resigned.
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