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If a company’s cars are luxurious enough for the Crown Prince of Denmark, then just imagine how the vehicles — which have a 50-mile, emission-free range on a single electric charge — might be received by folks in the U.S. The prince drove Fisker Automotive’s Karma to the U.N. Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December. Only a couple weeks before, Fisker had announced it will reopen a shuttered former General Motors factory back in America.
The factory in Wilmington, Del., will produce long-range, plug-in, electric hybrid vehicles. The company selected the plant as its primary production facility based on size, production capacity and its access to shipping ports, rail lines and a skilled workforce. Production will begin in 2012. Until then, the company is working to refurbish and retool the plant for its new model that will be produced there, codenamed Project NINA, a mass-market plug-in sedan.
“While some wanted to write off America’s auto industry, we said ‘no.’ We knew that we needed to do something different — in Delaware and all across the nation,” Vice President Joe Biden said in a news release. “We understood a new chapter had to be written, a new chapter in which we strengthen American manufacturing by investing in innovation.”
The plant plans to build 115,000 to 125,000 cars per year when it hits full production around 2014, putting about 2,000 people back to work and creating roughly 5,000 jobs nationwide for parts suppliers and related industries. About half of the vehicles will be exported.
“The plant was recently closed by GM and in very good condition with great equipment there that we can use such as a newly installed paint facility that would’ve cost us more than we paid for the entire plant to put in ourselves,” Russell Datz, director of public relations for Fisker, says. “Another reason we chose the site is because it can be very difficult and expensive to train workers to build world-class cars. The team over there had won several awards, so we’re going to put many of those people back to work.”
Jobs are right around the corner for the Wilmington area, and so is affordable plug-in hybrid technology for all Americans.
In September, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a $528.7 million conditional loan for Fisker Automotive for the development of two lines of plug-in hybrids, which could save millions of gallons of gasoline.
This story was modified on July 13, 2010 to update the number of vehicles expected to be produced per year and the number of jobs created.