Chinese supplier bid $20 million for Fisker

A boutique automaker led by former General Motors executive Bob Lutz and China's largest auto parts supplier submitted an offer of $20 million to buy cash-strapped automaker Fisker Automotive, people familiar with the matter told Reuters today.

VL Automotive and China's Wanxiang Group made an offer this month to buy Fisker through a prepackaged bankruptcy deal, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the discussions are private.

The proposal is one of at least two ongoing efforts to revive Fisker, which terminated the bulk of its workforce to preserve cash and hired bankruptcy advisers earlier this year.

Investors based in Europe and Hong Kong, including billionaire Richard Li, are working on a separate deal to buy $171 million in debt that Fisker still owes to the U.S. Department of Energy, the sources said.

Fisker, which makes the $100,000-plus Karma plug-in hybrid sports car, has not built a vehicle since July 2012.

Officials at Fisker, Wanxiang, VL Automotive and the DOE were either not available for comment or declined to comment. The sources cautioned that the talks were ongoing and may still fall apart.

Lutz likes Karma

Lutz also could not be reached for comment, but he recently touted Fisker in a blog that was posted under his byline on on April 26.

"Let's look at a few facts: the big Karma, designed by Henrik Fisker, is quite possibly the most beautiful four-door sedan ever," the blog said. "The technology, similar to that of the Chevrolet Volt, was ground-breaking and soon to be adopted by many of the leading manufacturers as they seek to meet stringent CO2 and fuel economy rules.

"Introduced at the height of the 'green car' craze, fueled by 'reliable' predictions of 'peak oil' and a rise in Toggle Modegasoline prices to $5 a gallon or over, the moneyed eco-class signed up in droves. Development was fast, but, for the most part, excellent."

Any attempt to revive Fisker faces an uphill battle with future investors, dealers and consumers, said Donn Vickrey, an analyst with research firm Gradient Analytics. In some areas, Karma prices have fallen by half.

"They're literally selling at something at 50 cents per dollar right now," Vickrey said. "That's a lot of confidence lost. I'm not sure how you get that back." Reuters

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