The two major American electric vehicle manufacturers, Tesla and Fisker, are both eyeing China, the world’s largest auto market, and Fisker owner Lu Guanqiu plans to “burn as much cash as it takes to succeed,” he told Bloomberg in a recent interview.
In Bloomberg’s May 18 article, Lu opened up to the press for the first time since his February acquisition of the company.
Now worth $3.1 billion, Lu, 69, was “born to peasants” and became a metalworking apprentice in a state-owned shop when he was 15. He went on to start both a bicycle repair shop and a flour mill in his village before opening a tractor repair shop in 1969. Today, he’s itching to take on the electric vehicle production game.
“I’ll put every cent that Wanxiang earns into making electric vehicles,” he’s quoted as saying in the same Bloomberg article. “I’ll burn as much cash as it takes to succeed, or until Wanxiang goes bust.”
Wanxiang Group Corp. is the largest auto-parts manufacturer in China, and was granted a permit in October to build electric buses and trucks in the country. And with the acquisition of an abandoned General Motors factory in Wilmington, Delaware, which was included with the purchase of Fisker, Wanxiang may be the first Chinese automaker to succeed in producing cars state-side.
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“The road is still very long,” Lu told Bloomberg. “We want to concentrate for now on manufacturing in the U.S. If I don’t succeed, my son will continue with it. If he doesn’t make it, my grandson will.”
In May 2013, Goldman Sachs released a report that predicted China would become the location driving demand for Teslas in the asian markets. In April of this year, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and real-life Tony Stark, with an estimated personal worth of $9.2 billion, announced the expectation that Tesla will “invest ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’ building charging outlets in China,” according to an April 22 Reuters article.
Currently leading the electric vehicle industry, Tesla has been eyeing entry to the Chinese market, though their ability to enter the market may become more difficult. Chinese Government support may lean toward a locally-based company, such as Wanxiang Group, rather than an American-based one.
Founded by Henrik Fisker, former design director of Aston Martin, and Bernhard Koehler, Fisker Automotive filed for bankruptcy Nov. 22, 2013. Despite receiving $139 million in government subsidies, a combination of thin funding and investment options and a massive loss of inventory in Hurricane Sandy pushed their finances over the edge.
According to the company’s Wikipedia page, Hurricane Sandy destroyed an entire shipment of 338 Fisker Karmas that were stored in Port Newark, New Jersey, all intended for delivery to Europe. After a bidding war, Wanxiang Group purchased the bankrupt company Feb. 18, with plans to revive the marque and both its produced and planned models.