Much speculation has gone into theories on why Fisker Automotive picked the Wilmington Delaware plant. Was it because former Vice President Al Gore had cut an “under the table” deal with Vice President Biden? Did the UAW, as an owner of GM force them to buy the plant in order to maintain the rights to purchase the Ecotech 2.0 liter engine? Were there just not any other options out there?
Of course in truth it was none of these. The site team at Fisker had a very precise list of factors needed for a new plant. The Wilmington plant met each of the main criteria plus a bonus one or two. The top five requirements for a new plant were:
1) The facility needs to be in good condition.
Having just been recently close and the added fact that it had been retooled to produce the Pontiac Solstice in 2005 the Wilmington plant is in excellent working order.
2) The facility should have produced cars not trucks.
“The way a truck is put together is much different, ” Datz says.
Not only did the plant produce cars, it made sports cars using the same Ecotech 2.0 liter turbo engine that is currently in the Fisker Karma. The facility also used a lower powered 2.4 liter engine that could be considered for Project Nina.
3) Previous Production Quality Ratings are important.
This plant had some of the highest ratings for all GM plants.
4) There must be good port access from the plant.
Wilmington is right on the coast and the plant has great access to the port. This will make it easy for Fisker Automotive to export half of the cars produced throughout the world.
5) The plant must be an appropriate size for production start up and future expansion.
The plant was recently tooled to produce over 20,000 cars per year. Formerly, it had made over 300,000 cars per year. This will allow for a good starting point and great expansion opportunity. However, it’s not so big that the space would set idle for many years to come.
There were also a couple of bonus criteria that this plant made available that no other plant had to offer. First there is the state of the art paint facility.
GM’s recent upgrade of the plant’s paint shop was an important factor. “We’re looking to build cars that will compete with BMW and Mercedes-Benz,” Datz says, “and we need a good paint job.”
The second bonus was only possible due to the speed in which the deal was made between the state of Delaware, GM, and Fisker Automotive. Since the deal was expedited GM agreed to leave all the equipment currently in the facility. Most of the time this equipment would be sold off prior to the property going on the market. In this case the equipment had been properly shut down and was maintained during storage.
Once again the conspiracy theories are proven wrong. Are there any others ones that you have heard about the plant purchase? Is there still something else out there?
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