* Fisker expects A123 will stay on as Karma battery supplier
* Pushes back China launch to May, instead of first quarter
* Seeking investors, partners in Asia, particularly China
By Deepa Seetharaman
CHICAGO, Feb 7 Fisker Automotive Inc, the "green
car" company that has not produced a vehicle since July, expects
to restart production of its Karma plug-in hybrid "fairly soon,"
Executive Chairman Henrik Fisker said on Thursday.
Fisker added that the Southern California automaker expects
A123 Systems Inc to continue to supply batteries for the Karma,
which launched in the United States more than a year ago.
In a deal finalized last month, A123 was bought out of
bankruptcy by the U.S. unit of Wanxiang Group, China's largest
auto parts maker. Fisker had said previously
that it was waiting for the A123 sale to clear before resuming
"We're negotiating with them right now to figure out exactly
when they'll start," Henrik Fisker said, referring to A123. He
spoke to reporters after making a speech at the Chicago Auto
Asked how soon the company would start producing Karmas
again, he said: "It will be fairly soon." He did not elaborate.
Fisker also said the automaker expects to launch in China in
May. The new timeline is later than the first-quarter launch the
company outlined late last year.
The struggling green-car startup is seeking investors and
partners to raise the funds needed to finish development of its
second model, the Atlantic. That model is geared toward families
and will be about half the price of the flagship Karma, whose
price tag starts at around $103,000.
The search for financial backers comes after a tough 2012
marred by the rocky and delayed introduction of the Karma,
A123's bankruptcy and an election season that turned the U.S.
government-backed company into a political punching bag.
The Karma's delays prompted the U.S. Department of Energy to
bar Fisker from drawing down the remaining portion of its $529
million federal loan, which was earmarked for the Atlantic.
In Chicago on Thursday, Henrik Fisker declined to confirm
that the company was seeking investors in China, an effort that
people familiar the matter have described as critical to the
Fisker has raised $1.2 billion since it was founded in 2007
and has the backing of Ray Lane, a Fisker director and managing
partner at venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
But Fisker suffered from what new chief executive Tony
Posawatz, who worked on General Motors Co's Chevrolet
Volt and who joined Fisker last year, has described as an
"overly ambitious and aggressive" business plan.
Posawatz is one of several new executives hired over the
last year to help steer the automaker's turnaround. As part of
that effort, top executives have spent the last several months
looking for a strategic partner. The company hired investment
bank Evercore Partners Inc to help the search last year
and recently hired Huron Consulting Group as well.