February 22, 2015 / 9:32 PM / 5 years ago

Exclusive - Wanxiang's relaunch of Fisker Karma bumped to 2016: sources

DETROIT (Reuters) - Chinese auto parts maker Wanxiang Group’s 000559.SZ bid to relaunch the defunct Fisker Karma hybrid sports car may be delayed until mid-2016, two sources familiar with the plan said Sunday.

A logo of Wanxiang Group is seen at China International Auto Parts Expo in Beijing, April 24, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

Wanxiang, which acquired the assets of California-based Fisker Automotive a year ago in a U.S. bankruptcy auction, had hoped to revive the Karma this year.

The revised version of the Karma may be renamed Fisker Elux, said one source. The sources were not authorized to speak for Wanxiang and asked not to be named.

Both sources said the revived gasoline-electric car will not be assembled in Finland as earlier planned. Fisker has not finalised a production site, the sources said.

Wanxiang plans to price the car from around $135,000 (87,628 pounds), the sources said, nearly 20 percent higher than the final price of the Karma.

Wanxiang did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fisker Automotive was an early rival of Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA.O), but despite the backing of the U.S. government and private investors, the company failed just six years after its 2007 launch.

Fisker Automotive was co-founded by Danish designer Henrik Fisker, who previously created such well-received sports cars as the Aston Martin DB9 and the BMW Z8.

Last fall, Henrik Fisker resurfaced as the designer of a special limited edition of the Ford Mustang, dubbed the Rocket, created for California dealer Galpin Ford.

One of the sources said the revived Fisker car likely would be based heavily on Henrik Fisker’s original Karma design.

One question is whether and how much Wanxiang will revise the car’s battery pack, which was developed and supplied by another U.S. company, A123 Systems, that went bankrupt and was eventually acquired by Wanxiang.

One of the sources said Wanxiang is spending “millions” to update the car’s hardware, much of which dates back seven years, to make it more competitive with newer vehicles introduced in the last several years.

Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by Tom Brown

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