Fisker buys GM plant to build first plug-ins

July 20, 2010

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Fisker buys GM plant to build first plug-ins

Fisker Automotive, a startup maker of plug-in luxury cars, paid $20 million for a shuttered factory previously operated by General Motors and plans to build rechargeable cars there by 2012.

Fisker, based in Irvine, Calif., completed the purchase of the 3.2-million-square-foot assembly plant in Wilmington, Del., on Monday, said Russell Datz, a company spokesman. The company had announced plans to buy the facility, where it will initially build its Nina model, in October 2009.

Led by auto designer Henrik Fisker, the company joins a race to offer autos that use little or no gasoline, like General Motors’ Volt plug-in, Nissan’s Leaf and a plug-in Prius hybrid due from Toyota.

Fisker’s $88,000 Karma goes into production late this year.

VW CEO to speak in Calif., test-drive Jetta

Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn will explain today how he plans to return the U.S. unit to profit as it heads for an eighth annual loss. He’ll do so without a leader to oversee the turnaround.

The CEO hasn’t named a permanent successor to U.S. chief Stefan Jacoby almost a month after the VW veteran of 25 years stepped down. Jacoby’s exit coincides with the final phase of introducing a new Jetta compact, VW’s best-selling American model, and as VW prepares to open a factory in Tennessee and present the first car built exclusively for the U.S. market.

Winterkorn, who will discuss VW’s electric-car strategy in California and test-drive the Jetta, has pledged to almost triple VW’s share of the second-biggest auto market to 6% by 2018 and boost deliveries to 1 million cars, including the Audi luxury unit.

U.S. progress will be vital for VW to reach its goal of surpassing Toyota in sales and profitability, said IHS Global Insight’s Rebecca Lindland.

"The timing is anything but ideal for VW to lose its leader," said Lindland. "Jacoby’s departure will definitely be disruptive."

Toyota, Paice settle patent dispute

Toyota said Monday it has settled a years-long dispute with a U.S. company that had claimed the Japanese automaker used its technology without permission in its hybrids.

The deal ends a squabble that had briefly threatened to block the Prius from being sold in the U.S.

Toyota and Paice said they have settled their patent dispute and agreed to have all lawsuits between them dismissed. The terms were confidential, the companies said. No financial details were disclosed.

"After six years of litigation, we are pleased to reach a settlement with Toyota," said Frances Keenan, chairman of the Paice board.

Paice first sued Toyota in 2004 claiming infringement and filed a second lawsuit in 2007.

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