Fisker eyes southeast Michigan for tech site

Posted on November 16, 2012

Fisker Automotive, the California-based electric car specialist that builds the $102,000 Karma luxury sedan, is considering southeast Michigan for a new technical center it will open somewhere in the Midwest early next year.

Fisker, based in Anaheim, needs the second engineering center “to access the supplier base and expertise” in southeast Michigan and get its new Atlantic sport sedan into production, company spokesman Roger Ormisher said. The company won’t hint at how many people the center will employ, but 100 people worked at an engineering office it had in Auburn Hills from 2002-10.

“Fisker Automotive … announced plans to establish a new technical center in the Midwest, with southeastern Michigan as one of the potential locations,” according to a Fisker statement.

“This important step signals our commitment to bringing the Fisker Atlantic to market as soon as we can,” company President and CEO Tony Posawatz said in a statement. “We will be bringing our own engineering footprint closer to our supplier base and the expertise and professional work force that have driven the American automotive industry for more than a century.”

Fisker expects the Atlantic to be its volume seller. It has delivered about 1,500 Karmas since the bigger, more expensive EV went on sale last December, but it hopes to sell 30,000 to 40,000 Atlantics annually. It purchased the General Motors assembly plant in Delaware that used to build the Pontiac Solstice to make the Atlantic.

Atlantic prices will probably be $50,000 to $60,000.

Fisker, founded by former BMW and Aston Martin designer Henrik Fisker, has long had ties to the Detroit area. In addition to its old tech center, many Detroit veterans work for the company, including Posawatz, previously a leader of the program that developed the Chevrolet Volt, which uses extended-range electric technology that’s very similar to Fisker’s. Former Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda preceded Posawatz atop Fisker and remains a consultant.

Fisker has had its share of start-up problems, including a recall, delays in starting U.S. production and difficulties in securing government loans intended for high-tech manufacturers.

Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press