During the development phase of the Fisker Karma, the automaker established a temporary technical center in Pontiac, Michigan, in order to be closer to automotive industry suppliers and experienced engineers.
In the spring of 2010, as the Karma approached finalization, Fisker shut its Pontiac tech center, choosing to preserve capital for the car’s launch.
Now, some two and a half years later, Fisker is once again shopping for real estate in the Midwest.
This time around, Fisker plans on opening a permanent technical center, initially tasked with completing the design of the Fisker Atlantic sedan.
The electric automaker, flush with $100 million in new equity funding, has ambitious plans to open the new technology center next spring. That may not be possible, given the looming winter and current lack of a chosen location.
In fact, Fisker’s press release says only that the brand is establishing a center in the Midwest, with a potential emphasis on southeast Michigan.
As for the reasons why, Fisker CEO Tony Posawatz sums it up by saying, “We will be bringing our own engineering footprint closer to our supplier base and the expertise and professional workforce that have driven the American automotive industry for more than a century.”
MIchigan, assuming that’s the site ultimately chosen, is also a lot closer to Fisker’s Delaware manufacturing facility than its California headquarters, not that this really matters in an age of cheap and plentiful flights and video conferencing.
Will Fisker be able to justify the expense of a Midwest tech center on a long-term basis? That remains to be seen, as Fisker isn’t the only small volume manufacturer to shutter a Michigan facility.
In January of 2007, fellow electric automaker Tesla opened an R&D center in Rochester Hills, Michigan, in order to be closer to industry suppliers. By October of 2008, Tesla announced it was closing the facility as a cost-cutting measure.
Which begs a serious question for Fisker: will the new Midwest technology center help that automaker expedite the design and production of the Fisker Atlantic, or will it prove to be merely another costly distraction?