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Tesla Motors Needs a Competitor, Will Fisker Automotive Step Up?

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Fisker Automotive to develop pure electric vehicles.
Fisker Automotive to develop pure electric vehicles.

Tesla Motors, for now, is the undisputed leader in electric vehicle technology, but could the resurrected Fisker Automotive be a good competitor?

No, I’m not talking about Fisker Automotive’s stalled lineup of extended-range electric vehicles (EREV), such as the Fisker Karma (a $100,000 Chevy Volt?). The truth is, you just don’t bring a hybrid vehicle to an electric vehicle (EV) fight, plain and simple. Fisker Automotive, after being bought up by Chinese auto parts giant Wanxiang Group, won the bidding partially because Wanxiang promised to get Fisker Karma back into production as soon as possible.

Still, what’s all this nonsense about a Fisker Automotive Tesla Motors competitor? Surely, we’re not talking about anything in Fisker’s current lineup, the Karma, Surf, or Atlantic. The pieces are in place, however, for Fisker Automotive to reinvent itself in a big way, possibly as a producer of a Tesla Motors-rivalling pure electric vehicle. After all, Wanxiang has already acquired Fisker Automotive, a former Delaware General Motors plant, as well as advanced battery maker A123 Systems, specializing in automotive-class lithium-ion nanophosphate rechargeable battery technology.

Put all these things together, Fisker Automotive’s design and A123 Systems’ battery, assembled in an old General Motors plant in Delaware, and you have what could be the making of a Tesla Motors competitor. Wanxiang’s owner, Lu Guanqiu, plans exactly such a strategy, using the profits from the resurrected Fisker EREV lineup to build an all-new Fisker EV, saying, “I’ll put every cent that Wanxiang earns into making electric vehicles. I’ll burn as much cash as it takes to succeed, or until Wanxiang goes bust.”

Big words, I must admit. While other automakers are, at best, less-than-enthusiastic when it comes to electric vehicles, what the industry really needs are enthusiastic big-time players, such as Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk and Wanxiang Group owner Lu Guanqiu. Will such a competition inject some fervor into the EV automarket?

Photo credit: jurvetson / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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