Wanxiang Clears Environment Review, Moves Closer to EV Plant

  • Environmental impact review one of steps in approval process
  • Wanxiang plans to produce cars on Karma platform at factory

Wanxiang Group, the owner of Karma Automotive, moved one step closer to getting a permit to produce electric vehicles in China after clearing an environmental impact review.

The environmental protection bureau of Zhejiang province approved Wanxiang’s plan for facilities capable of manufacturing 50,000 electric vehicles a year, according to a filing posted on the agency’s website on Tuesday.

Founded by Chinese billionaire Lu Guanqiu, Wanxiang Group bought the bankrupt Fisker Automotive Inc. and has provided the financial backing to restart the company as Karma, the name of its plug-in sports sedan bought by the likes of Justin Bieber and Leonardo DiCaprio. Karma is trying to reboot its image after Fisker failed to repay $139 million in U.S. government loans and filed for Chapter 11.

Wanxiang plans to mainly produce cars on the Karma platform at the China plant, including extended-range versions of the Karma and Atlantic models, according to the application. Out of the 50,000 cars a year in capacity, 39,000 have been earmarked for the two-door Atlantic, which has a top speed of 216 kilometers (134 miles) per hour and can get to 100 kilometers per hour in 6.5 seconds.

China said last year it’ll issue new production licenses to non-automakers, paving the way for Wanxiang to expand beyond making components. Wanxiang has been widely seen as one of the potential candidates for the special permit, given its expertise in producing major car parts and purchase of Fisker and battery supplier A123 Systems. To qualify for the license, companies need to have both experience in product development and manufacturing.

— With assistance by Tian Ying, and Kongho Chua

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