If there’s one thing to be said about plug-in hybrid vehicle developer Fisker, it’s that the young startup moves quickly. A month after securing a $528.7 million loan from the Department of Energy, Fisker is reportedly in advanced talks to buy an old 3.2 million-square-foot General Motors (s GM) assembly plant in Wilmington, Del., to build its low-cost, next-generation plug-in hybrid vehicle called Project Nina.
Fisker, which didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment, has repeatedly said that it would manufacture a cheaper and higher-volume plug-in than its $87,900 Karma, which is slated for delivery starting next summer, on the condition that it received the DOE loan. That loan came through, and the Irvine, Calif.-based startup, which was founded in 2007, appears to be moving on its promise. Based on previous comments by the company, Project Nina would sell for around $40,000 and be manufactured at a volume of 75,000-100,000 a year starting in 2012.
Buying a shuttered GM plant would seem to be a smart move. The plant, which according to the Wall Street Journal, once assembled the Saturn Sky and Pontiac Solstice, should be able to be renovated to meet Fisker’s needs more easily and quickly than a facility that had a history unrelated to car manufacturing. And given GM’s economic woes and the state of the economy, Kleiner Perkins-backed Fisker should get a good price for the assets, though the company has not released financial details of the agreement.
Meanwhile, Fisker competitor Tesla, which in June received a $465 million loan from the same DOE program, is still looking for an assembly plant in the U.S. to build the Model S, its version of a high-volume, low-priced all-electric family car that the company hopes to get into production in late 2011. Tesla also said back in June that it was in the “final stages” of negotiating for facilities in California, but so far hasn’t announced further progress on those deals.
Vice President Joe Biden is reportedly expected to visit the GM plant on Tuesday, and make an announcement about the new Fisker factory.