2012 Fisker Karma during road test, Los Angeles, Feb 2012Enlarge Photo
Hybrid Technology Holdings, which thought it had its bid for bankrupt Fisker Automotive all sewed up, isn't letting go easily.
The investor group led by Hong Kong tycoon Richard Li had submitted a bid for the remains of the company, which preferred that bid over any others.
But a decision by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Kevin Gross has now put the remains of the company up for public auction.
In a statement released yesterday, Hybrid announced it will increase its previous bid of $25 million to $55 million.
That original bid would have gone directly to the U.S. Department of Energy to pay off a portion of Fisker's outstanding $168 million low-interest loan.
Hybrid also said it plans to utilize Fisker's former General Motors assembly plant near Wilmington, Delaware, for future plug-in car production--seemingly a reversal of the group's previous stance.
Not only had Hybrid expressed no previous interest in building cars in Delaware, as Fisker had intended to do before its bankruptcy, but it was reportedly planning to sell the plant and use the proceeds to pay off creditors to enable production to resume.
2012 Fisker KarmaEnlarge Photo
Hybrid's attempt to gain control of Fisker was spoiled by a late bid from Wanxiang, China's largest auto parts manufacturer, which was one of the parties that lost to Hybrid in the original bidding for the carmaker's DOE loan debt.
Wanxiang--which also owns A123 Systems, Fisker's battery supplier---discussed restarting Karma production at Valmet Automotive in Finland, and eventually building Fisker models in Delaware.
The possibility of re-opening the idled ex-GM plant led Delaware Congressman John Carney and Senator Tom Carper to support a public auction, in hopes that a different buyer could be found that might build cars there in volumes large enough to utilize the plant's significant capacity.
Fisker's creditors also support a public auction, after stating previously that Li's bid had been accepted too quickly.
Wanxiang's higher bid brought the issue of restarting Fisker production to the fore, forcing Hybrid to break its silence on its plans for Fisker and the Delaware assembly plant.
For its part, Fisker had originally asked U.S. Judge Gross to accept Li's bid, claiming Wanxiang was trying to profit from a bankruptcy it caused.
Fisker accused Wanxiang of cutting off the supply of batteries from A123, and thus prolonging a halt in Karma production that has last for more than 15 months.