Lu Guanqiu, the chairman and founder of China’s Wanxiang Group Corp. which purchased A123 Systems and Fisker Automotive says he’s bound and determined to successfully compete against Tesla in the U.S. and China.
Stated plans to build new plug-in hybrid models are few, but his will to win in the electric car market is plain, as evidenced by statements made during an interview at Wanxiang’s headquarters in Hangzhou with Automotive News.
“I’ll put every cent that Wanxiang earns into making electric vehicles,” he said last week. “I’ll burn as much cash as it takes to succeed, or until Wanxiang goes bust.”
Guanqiu, 69, has an estimated fortune of $3.1 billion, and his companies last year earned $1.3 billion in profit.
In acquiring Fisker in a U.S. government auction for $149.2 million, in February he garnered around three dozen patents that could help him fulfill a dream to build automobiles he’s had for decades.
Also, in acquiring Fisker and A123 Systems he said it was like “buying brains” and together with the intellectual capital bought at fire sale prices and the talented employees that came along with, he hopes to succeed.
His drive to enter the car manufacturing business has been with him at least since he was seriously daunted in 1985 when he visited a GM plant in Detroit that turned out cars at one per minute.
“I felt out of my depth and doubted I had the ability to make it in this industry,” said Lu. “Since then, the gulf in technology between foreign and Chinese automakers has widened.”
But now with purchased “brains” and patents, his sites are set here and at home.
EVs are now the way to go in China where air quality is very poor and the government is anxious to subsidize that industry further along.
Lu said he expects Wanxiang to be granted license to manufacture electric cars in China, but here too gave no details. The company has had a permit since October to build electric buses and trucks there.
U.S. taxpayers lost $139 million in monies on the Fisker experiment which Mitt Romney called a “loser.”
The winner now appears to be Wanxiang who has grown his businesses since being born to peasant parents, and starting a humble tractor supply business which became the seed for multi8ple corporate holdings.
His company also owns the former GM Boxwood Road plant in Wilmington which Fisker intended to build its next series hybrid after the Karma, but he did not say whether the U.S. cars he’d eventually build would be built there.
Much more needs to come into place, but he is working his plan, with global aspirations that include beating Tesla.
“The road is still very long,” Lu said. “We want to concentrate for now on manufacturing in the U.S. If I don’t succeed, my son will continue with it. If he doesn’t make it, my grandson will.”