Before last week, Fisker Automotive was known to be building two plug-in hybrid electric luxury vehicles: the Karma S and Karma convertible. In September, the Department of Energy announced a $528.7 million loan to Fisker to build plug-in hybrids in the U.S. Fisker announced that this would be for bringing the Karma to the U.S. (currently will be assembled in Finland) and about two-thirds of the loan would be for “Project Nina”. Until last week, Fisker was keeping mum on “Project Nina”.
Last week, Fisker announced that with the DOE loan they would be purchasing a currently empty assembly plant in Wilmington, Delaware (a former GM plant building roadsters for Pontiac and Saturn). The photo op was attended by Vice President Joe Biden.
However, what got even more attention was when during the event Vice President Biden announced that Fisker would be building sedans, crossovers, and coupes at the plant. Many were left wondering if Biden had just revealed the future plans of Fisker.
Apparently, he had. Fox News confirmed with Fisker that Biden had actually revealed the future plans of the automaker. He also revealed that Project Nina would result in 100,000 vehicles being built in the U.S. per year (and that the new sedan that “looked like a four door Ferrari”). Fisker also announced that the Project Nina plug-in hybrid vehicles would be more affordable than their current luxury offering (they are aiming for $40,000 or less). These new product plans (at least for the moment) appear to be poised to steal the thunder from their oft-compared start-up rival, Tesla.
Don’t expect any quick response from Tesla though. In fact, I’m sure if Fisker had their druthers, Biden would not have mentioned the new sedan and crossover quite yet. In the highly competitive world of automotive design and production, product plans, technology, and prototypes are carefully guarded secrets.
This revelation shows that Fisker has big plans, and is planning to hit the key vehicle segments to achieve the kind of volume they need to be profitable. Now comes the long wait for the product to actually arrive. The first plan for the new plant is the Project Nina sedan planned for 2012 or 2013, and that will be followed by moving production of the next generation Karma in 2016 to the plant. Between 2012 and 2016, it sounds like we should expect to see a crossover and a coupe.
So, if VP Biden is to believed, by 2016 we should expect to see a wide range of products coming from Fisker in Wilmington, ranging in price from $40,000 to the high-end Karma in the $80,000-$90,000 ballpark.