Reuters: Lutz To Help Chinese Buy Fisker On The Cheap

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
reuters lutz to help chinese buy fisker on the cheap

When former TTAC Editor-in-Chief and now Editor emeritus Edward “Op-Ed” Niedermeyer wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal and warned that GM’s center of gravity shifts more and more to China, GM’s retired multi-role fighter Bob Lutz reamed Ed via Fortune. Now, Bob Lutz himself appears to be an accessory in a deal that transfers U.S. government-financed technology to China for pennies on the dollar. Says Deepa Seetharaman, in-house alternative drivetrain expert at the Reuters Detroit office, in her in-depth article:

“VL Automotive and China’s Wanxiang Group are looking to gain control of Fisker through a prepackaged bankruptcy. This comes alongside a separate push by investors in Europe and Hong Kong, including billionaire Richard Li, to buy out the U.S. Department of Energy’s position in Fisker.”

Here are the players:

Fisker hasn’t made a car since last July, and hasn’t built many before. Fisker hired bankruptcy advisers after firing most of its workforce.

The U.S. Government awarded Fisker a US$529 million green-energy loan in 2010, of which Fisker collected nearly US$192 million until 2011. Then, he government froze the loan.

VL Automotive is a venture between Bob Lutz and his partner, industrialist Gilbert Villarreal, hence the VL. At the Detroit auto show this year, VL Automotive showcased a car called the VL Destino, “which combines the shell of a Fisker with the guts of a Chevrolet Corvette ZR1,” says Reuters. The car is said to cost around $180,000.

Wanxiang is China’s largest automotive components manufacturing company. Wanxiang successfully bid for Fisker’s battery supplier, A123 Systems after the company went bankrupt.. This week, a judge approved the bankruptcy plan for A123.

The government loan is in the way of selling Fisker. “Prospective buyers have been unwilling to assume the obligations spelled out in the loans,” sources told Reuters.

According to Reuters, a deal is being negotiated in which a Hong Kong finance group would buy out the government’s loan, most likely at a steep discount. Then the assets could be sold to Wanxiang and VL. Especially independent Chinese automakers need to export to fill their idle capacities. To be able to compete, they need foreign technology.

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  • Steveg35 Steveg35 on May 22, 2013

    Lutz is a blowhard. Crashed his aircraft by forgetting to put the gear down. His buddy Eaton sold out Chrysler to M-B for a big payday. Car Guy? Hardly. He oversaw crap like the Liberty and the Solstice. Ask an Exide employee about his tenure there. They called him no guts Lutz. Love his photo in the R+T column: a big cigar-smoking phony.

    • E46M3_333 E46M3_333 on May 22, 2013

      I agree. This guy is heralded as some sort of automotive genius. From what I see, he couldn't hold a middle manager job where I work. In Detroit, he's the tallest dwarf.

  • Jimbob457 Jimbob457 on May 22, 2013

    The Chinese may be trying to buy Fisker 'on the cheap', as the headline says. This is technically accurate. You could just as well have said: "As a failed attempt at EV, Fisker's corpse is so derelict that the only visible buyer is China, and they are not willing to pay very much despite the fact they (Bank of China and its owner the Chinese Communist Party) have cache of money worth trillions of US dollars. One cannot expect every attempt at innovation to succeed. This unusual US willingness to risk failure at every level in pursuit of success is the envy of the rest of the world. So my opinion is we should sell the Fiskers off for what we can get, and try to keep the commitment of government money limited, as much as possible, to paying for basic research.

  • Fred I don't know about those big screens. Is there a way to minimize the display, so it's not so distracting? Especially at night the glow doesn't make it easy for me.
  • Arthur Dailey Toronto Blue Jays' games are only available on AM radio. As I am 'on the road' quite often when the Jays play that is my only option for listening to the game. So an AM radio is something of a 'must have' for me.
  • JMII My brother tracked one of these for several years... it will embarrass other sports cars. He sold it to someone who still rips it around on track days. Given my previous VW experience I wouldn't touch it but these are surprising quick and handle well for hatchback credit going to a decent AWD system. $16k seems crazy, but Rs aren't that common and this one appears to be in great condition and seems well sorted.
  • Arthur Dailey I meant the grille and the profile along the passenger area. Look closely and it is reminiscent of the Journey.
  • Daniel 16500 pesos