Project Nina — the $47,400 plug-in hybrid vehicle that startup Fisker Automotive aims to launch in 2012 — has a home. The Irvine, Calif.-based startup announced this morning that it will buy an old General Motors assembly plant in Wilmington, Del., for $18 million drawing funds from the $528.7 million conditional loan it received from the Department of Energy last month. Word got out yesterday that Fisker was in advanced talks to buy the GM facility for the project, and a White House insider told Reuters that Vice President Joe Biden would be on hand at the shuttered facility this morning to announce its reopening. Now we’ve got details.
According to Fisker’s release this morning, the startup expects to invest $175 million over the next three years retooling the facility, which was previously used to assemble Saturn, Pontiac and Opel GT models. By 2014, Fisker plans to have the plant cranking out 75,000-100,000 vehicles per year by 2014. But Fisker aims to sell less than half of those stateside. The rest are slated for export.
Fisker’s inaugural plug-in hybrid model, the high-end Fisker Karma, is scheduled to launch this summer in the U.S. and Europe — with Finland’s Valmet Automotive responsible for assembly.
Gary Casteel, the UAW director responsible for the plant — part of the group of “bad” assets left in bankruptcy after the “New GM” emerged from bankruptcy — praised Fisker’s goals for foreign markets, saying union workers and Fisker are partnering “to create a greener America by building a plug-in hybrid car that will compete globally.”
If Project Nina unfolds as planned, the “family oriented sedan” (which Fisker has yet to design but says it has begun engineering) will also amp up the competition at home, potentially going head to head with GM’s own extended-range electric Chevy Volt sedan, priced in the same ballpark and slated to launch next year.
Fisker Karma photo courtesy of Fisker Automotive