Wanxiang Gets China Electric Vehicle Permit to Make Karma Cars

  • Auto parts maker plans annual EV capacity of 50,000 units
  • Wanxiang sixth company to receive permission to make EVs

Wangxiang Group, the owner of Karma Automotive, became the second auto-parts maker to receive permission from the nation’s top economic planner to produce electric cars under a special scheme to encourage companies outside auto manufacturing to develop new-energy vehicles.

Founded by Chinese billionaire Lu Guanqiu, Wanxiang Group got approval from the National Development and Reform Commission to invest in facilities to manufacture extended-range electric vehicles with annual capacity of 50,000 units, according to a notice on the agency’s website on Friday. It’s the sixth company under the special scheme to get approval. A representative of Wanxiang Group wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Wanxiang bought the bankrupt Fisker Automotive Inc. and has provided the financial backing to restart the company as Karma. It cleared the environmental impact review in September to invest 2.5 billion yuan ($360 million) in a plant located in Hangzhou, China to mainly produce cars on the Karma platform.

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, according to the company’s application for the environmental impact review.

Read about the Gold Rush in China electric car startups.

Minth Group Ltd. last month became the first car-parts maker to get permission to produce electric vehicles under the special scheme. Others that have received the approval are Beijing Electric Vehicle Co., Hangzhou Changjiang Passenger Vehicle Co., Beijing CH-Auto Technology Co. and a unit of Chery Automobile Co.

China has been issuing production licenses to newcomers to the auto-making industry as part of its push to encourage innovation. Billionaires like Jack Ma, Terry Gou, Li Ka-shing and Jia Yueting are among investors who’ve poured at least $2 billion into building greener cars for the world’s largest auto market to combat choking smog and cut its reliance on imported oil.

— With assistance by Yan Zhang

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