California electric car maker Fisker Automotive is setting up shop in the Detroit suburb of Pontiac, Mich., as it ramps up engineering efforts prior to the unveiling of the production version of its plug-in hybrid sedan, the Karma, at the Detroit auto show in January.
The new facility will be home to vehicle integration for the Karma and have at least one of the company's full-sized models for engineers to work on. Most of the changes to the car as it goes from concept to production will be to the interior. The car, which is being billed as eco-friendly, luxury transportation, was first seen at the Detroit show in 2008 and is Fisker's first product.
The facility in Pontiac measures 34,000 square feet and is expected to have 200 workers, including Fisker employees and workers from suppliers. The company is already moving in and has about 130 people in Pontiac. Fisker signed a lease two months ago and previously had workers operating at its suppliers' sites.
Fisker chose the Michigan location because of the proximity to its suppliers, including Edag and Magna Intier, which are working on engineering projects for the Karma. There's also a skilled workforce that's readily available as Detroit's automakers cut back in light of sales declines and financial troubles.
"We're excited to start something up," said Henrik Fisker, CEO of Fisker Automotive. "We're getting a lot of good people in--so that's obviously a big advantage for us."
Fisker is based in Irvine, Calif., and has no plans to switch headquarters. But it's tapping a number of global sites as it races to bring the Karma to the market by November 2009. Production is expected to start in Finland in October 2009. The timetable is roughly in line with the launch of the Chevrolet Volt, and when Fisker unveiled the ambitious plans, it was met with heavy skepticism. Still, Fisker maintains it's on pace for the launch.
The Karma is the work of former BMW and Aston Martin designer Henrik Fisker and his startup company. The long, low-slung car has a prominent grille, LED taillights and 22-inch alloy wheels set in large wheel arches. It is powered by a plug-in hybrid technology called Q-Drive, and is expected to have a top speed of 125 mph while going from 0 to 60 mph in less than six seconds. The electric power range is claimed to be 50 miles on a single charge, and a total range of 350 miles for the hybrid powertrain.
The Karma likely will sticker for around $87,000, said company board member Vic Doolan at an event this summer in the Detroit area. And expect more Karma from Fisker--as Doolan also said the company is considering making three variants of the car--a convertible, coupe and four-door utility vehicle.
Those variants would follow the launch of the sedan and all arrive in the market by 2012, said Doolan, Fisker's director of retail development and the former CEO of Volvo Cars North America.
The extensive rollout is part of the company's plan to aim for 3.3 percent of the luxury market in the United States, not including large SUV sales. Henrik Fisker declined to comment of the potential variants of the Karma, but said they would be relatively cheap for the company to produce--likely 15 percent of the original costs of the Karma, as engineering work can be carried over.
News of Fisker's plans for a local site could be a shot in the arm for the beleaguered Detroit area, which has been buffeted by news of the troubles of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. Fisker is leasing the Pontiac location and says it already has all of the required approvals worked out with local officials. The company hasn’t had talks with the state about potential incentives.
"We're moving so fast … we need to be up and running fast," Fisker said.
In October, Fisker won its arbitration case with fellow California car company, Tesla Motors. Tesla had sued Fisker alleging theft of trade secrets, a charge Fisker has denied. Tesla disagreed with the ruling.
0 Responses to "Fisker Automotive opens engineering center in suburban Detroit"