Wanxiang founder may be on collision course with Tesla’s Elon Musk

Article by Andrew Christian, on May 21, 2014

If the United States has Elon Musk, China has its own Lu Guanqiu. Lu is chairman and founder of Wanxiang Group Corp., the company who acquired Fisker Automotive Holdings Inc. at a bankruptcy auction earlier this year. Lu has disclosed to Bloomberg in an exclusive interview that he is planning to build electric cars in the US and eventually in China – a plan similar to what Musk has in mind – even if it causes Wanxiang to burn its cash and collapse financially.

He said that he will invest every cent that Wanxiang earns into making EVs. Musk is currently implementing an ambitious expansion plan for Tesla, which has been reinforcing its workforce to build its hot-selling Model S. Both Musk and Lu are planning to break beyond US borders to market their EVs in pollution-laden China, placing them in a possible collision course.

But who will succeed? Harry Chen, an automotive analyst with Guotai Junan Securities Co. in Shenzhen, China, told Bloomberg that Wanxiang has managed to gain access to technologies that might take it years to develop thanks to its acquisition of Fisker.

He noted that production of EVs in the US is just a stepping stone for Wanxiang, since manufacturing in China would be the ultimate ingredient for success. He noted that Lu has been having a desire to produce cars since the 1980s.

With Fisker on his hand, Lu could now fulfill that desire, building on the carmaker’s remains. Fisker is known for its Karma plug-in hybrid sports car.

Musk, meanwhile, is forecasting China to become Tesla’s largest market, eventually overtaking the US.

Fisker filed for bankruptcy in late 2013, and prompted a bidding war between Lu’s Wanxiang and Richard Li’s Hybrid Tech Holdings LLC – who were both aiming to get their hands on Fisker’s three dozen current and pending patents. Wanxiang won the auction with a $149.2 million offer. [source: Bloomberg]

Topics: tesla, elon musk

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