Big Picture: Fisker Karma coming back to dealerships, Tesla financial losses could be offset by “gigafactory”

Fisker plant in DelawareFisker Automotive’s new owner has been shedding more light on where the luxury extended range sports carmaker is headed. Pin Ni, head of Wanxiang America (the US division of Wanxiang Group, China’s largest auto parts company), told Automotive News that the Karma will restart production as early as this year at its Finland plant; the Karma will be sold again in the US and Europe. Production could happen in the US as well, once sales move forward. Ni said there’s a “potential partner out of Michigan.” There’s always the former General Motors plant in Delaware, but Fisker Automotive may stay away from it. Long term, Wanxiang may set up production in China where there’s a lot of government purchase subsidies for cars like the Fisker Karma. Ni also commented on the Fisker Atlantic; Wanxiang wants to complete development of this mid-sized plug-in hybrid. It’s positioned to be more affordable model that is likely to be produced at higher volume than the Karma.

And in other clean transportation news………

  • Tesla Motors sold 22,247 cars last year, pulled in $2 billion in revenue, and took a $74 million loss. This year’s financials could be similar with speeding up production, starting production of the Model X, and expanding globally. Tesla also reported a second set of financial results outside of the generally accepted accounting principles – that one looked much better with a $46 million fourth quarter profit, which was up from $16 million in the third quarter. Tesla CEO Elon Musk also coined another phrase for how Tesla will rise to its challenges – the company may develop a “gigafactory” that would produce lithium batteries for its vehicles at much higher volume and much lower cost. More cash would be needed to do so, and with the company’s stock price so high, now could be a good time to make that investment, Musk said.
  • Check out two reports from the US Department of Energy. “A Guide to the Lessons Learned from the Clean Cities Community Electric Vehicle Readiness Projects” pulls together coverage of 16 different projects around the country. “State of the States: Fuel Cells in America 2013” looks at energy being produced at stationary fuel cell installations, fuel cell forklift deployments, and fuel cell buses, trucks, and cars placed in service.
  • The Kia Soul EV is being equipped with an advanced power pack featuring lithium-ion polymer battery cells supplied by SK Innovation. The battery pack features 192 lithium-ion polymer batter cells in eight modules that can output 27 kWh.
  • Echo Automotive will be adding the Chevrolet Express and GMV Savana full-sized vans to its plug-in hybrid lineup. Production will start in the first quarter of 2015 and will follow conversions of Ford E-Series vans.
  • Paice LLC filed a lawsuit against Ford Motor Co. for alleged patent infringement on its hybrid vehicle technology. The Baltimore company has won a similar case against Toyota Motor Corp. Paice said in its lawsuit that hybrid and plug-in versions of Ford’s C-Max and Fusion, and the Lincoln MKZ, infringe on patents that address ways to control electric motors and gasoline engines for increased fuel efficiency and reduced emissions. The two companies had made a deal in 2010 where Ford licensed one of Paice’s patents. Negotiations haven’t gone well, according to Paice, hence the lawsuit filing.
  • Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn delivered two Leafs to the Kingdom of Bhutan last week in honor of the king’s birthday. He pledged more EVs to help the government electrify its fleet and the nation’s taxis. Nissan wants to showcase its technology in an unexpected market.

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