* Had been targeting China launch by end of this year
* Seeks to tap in to China's fast-growing luxury car market
* Company on firmer footing after setbacks -Henrik Fisker
By Nichola Groom
LOS ANGELES, Nov 28 Fisker Automotive will start
selling its $100,000-plus Karma plug-in hybrid in China during
the first quarter of next year to take advantage of the
country's rapidly growing market for luxury cars, company
executives said on Wednesday.
Fisker said earlier it would launch in China by the end of
this year. But the company encountered a slight delay in
obtaining final certification to sell cars in China and decided
to focus on the Middle East first, spokesman Roger Ormisher
Tackling growing markets like China and the Middle East,
where Fisker launched sales earlier this year, is a big part of
the fledgling automaker's growth strategy after it suffered a
series of financial setbacks and quality problems with the Karma
"We still aren't in all the markets where we want to be,"
Henrik Fisker, the company's founder and executive chairman,
said in an interview during the Los Angeles Auto Show. "Part of
our adjustment is also to keep on entering new markets."
Luxury car sales in China, the world's largest auto market,
are forecast to grow to 2.7 million vehicles by 2020, overtaking
the United States as the world's leading luxury car market.
Fisker's distributor in China is China Grand Automotive Services
"We have just launched in the Middle East, which we see a
lot of interest and potential sales there, and then we are going
to go into China next year," Henrik Fisker said.
Anaheim, California-based Fisker began selling the Karma in
Currently about two-thirds of Karma sales are in the United
States, with the rest in Europe, said Chief Executive Tony
Posawatz, who joined Fisker this year after working on General
Motors Co's Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid for six years.
'OVER THE CLIFF'
Posawatz is one of several new executives responsible for
leading Fisker's turnaround after a series of quality problems
with the Karma, including a recall of batteries made by A123
Systems Inc, which filed for bankruptcy protection in
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Energy froze a
$529 million credit line to Fisker that was the cornerstone of
the automaker's business plan.
When asked what would happen if the United States failed to
reach a deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, Henrik Fisker
quipped, "we've been over the cliff already."
The automaker is now laying the groundwork to go public and
is looking to form partnerships with larger automakers to fund
expansion. Production of its second model, the Atlantic, is
expected to start in late 2014 or 2015, Fisker said in an
investor presentation in October.
The executives would not comment on a timeline on Wednesday.
"I don't think for us it's anymore about how are we going to
be around next year," Henrik Fisker said. "It's more about how
can we find the fastest possible way to get our products into
the market and how can we find the most efficient way to