By on May 22, 2013

VL Destino - Picture courtesy

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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27 Comments on “Reuters: Lutz To Help Chinese Buy Fisker On The Cheap...”

  • avatar

    Besides the rolling chassis design, what are Fisker’s Assets? According to the article written Katie Fehrenbacher, much of the technology is owned by Fisker’s suppliers.

  • avatar

    We should give China EV “technology” for free. That way, they can commit economic suicide like we are in pushing EVs on consumers who, for the most part, don’t want them.

    • 0 avatar

      EV buyers don’t want EVs? Those Tesla and Nissan salesmen must be very persuasive.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t think they want Fisker’s type of EV. Consumer Reports tested the Fisker and it broke down within the first 200 miles. They also tested the Tesla Model S and it gained a rating of the best car they’ve ever tested.

        Nissan Leaf sales have been significantly below expectations. I have yet to see one in the wild in South Florida. I’ve seen two Fiskers and a Tesla Model S.


        • 0 avatar

          I agree about not wanting a Fisker. A flammable toy for the super-rich has a limited market….

          I disagree about the other EVs, though. I see a different mix of cars on the road where I live.

          I live in a midwestern college town, and I see Volts every couple of days, I see a couple of LEAFs now and then. I’ve never seen a Tesla or a Fisker.

          I’m guessing the differences are geography, money, and culture. My town is 5 miles on a side, and going out of town is a road trip. Also, conspicuous consumption isn’t something that makes you important in this town – you need a long CV or a Nobel prize for that.

      • 0 avatar

        I said consumers, meaning all auto consumers, not EV buyers. Comprehend reading much?

        • 0 avatar
          el scotto

          How many auto consumers did the math and became EV buyers?

          • 0 avatar

            Does anyone who drives a has car do the math the way you suggest? Not really.

            Right now, EVs are a niche technology. But most of the vehicles that are interesting enough to talk about on this site are niche vehicles of one kind or another (sport/luxury/track cars) that fail the lowest TCO test!

            I gather that you’re not in the niche served by EVs. So what? There are a whole lot of niche cars that I won’t be buying.

    • 0 avatar

      China’s lack of Republicans and Democrats will probably make EV’s quite successful. They’ll probably have the infrastructure up and everything. Give em 10 years and they’ll be laughing at us…even harder.

      In other news: Tesla struggles to sell cars in North Carolina.

      • 0 avatar
        Piston Slap Yo Mama

        You nailed it. EV’s to my amazement have become a political lightning rod, despite the fact that the loans to these companies were originally green-lighted under a previous president. Once upon a time I worked for Sematech so I understand the importance of a country making long term and sometimes risky investments in its own technical future. Hell, walking on the moon is a good example. We couldn’t do that today because it would inevitably be spun by asshole republicans as wasteful pork barrel science and the far left would characterize it as a smokescreen for the militarization of space. One day when I’m god emperor of the USA I’m going to institute changes. Mark my word.

  • avatar

    Too many moving parts here. The Chinese aren’t stupid investors – not gonna happen.

  • avatar

    Not surprised Lutz loves the Karma. Oversized wheels, big footprint-small interior, terrible visibility, gaudy styling, lots of unnecessarily shiny bits. Yup, it is a Lutz.

  • avatar

    Thanks for further taking a dump on American workers, Lutz-o. Now please just go. Away. Far, far away…

  • avatar

    So in a way Bob Lutz is the new Victor Muller?

  • avatar

    Putz is only interested in money,not integrity.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Mac Arthur must be turning in his grave so much lately that he’s gotta be dizzy by now!

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    $180,000? I’d rather buy a Bentley Continental GT V8. I think you can even get the W12 at that price, actually…

  • avatar

    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. Love his photo in the R+T column: a big cigar-smoking phony.

  • avatar

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      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.

  • avatar

    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.

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