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Tuesday, February 18, 2014 - 12:45pm

Chinese Firm Gets Approval To Buy Electric Carmaker Fisker

Updated: 9 months ago.
The Karma sedan, a premium electric plug-in hybrid by Fisker Automotive, is seen at the New York International Auto Show in New York on April 5, 2012. A U.S. bankruptcy judge will decide Tuesday whether China's largest auto parts company can buy the now-bankrupt electric carmaker.

This post was updated at 11:45 a.m.

A bankruptcy judge in Delaware has approved the sale of bankrupt electric carmaker Fisker to China's largest auto parts company.

NPR's Frank Langfitt reported on the story for our Newscast Unit.

"Wanxiang Group China's largest auto parts company won a bankruptcy auction last week for Fisker, which made plug-in, hybrid sports cars. Wanxiang's bid is valued at about $150 million. Fisker, which is based in California, filed for bankruptcy protection late last year.

"The company had received huge loans from the Obama administration designed to encourage clean-energy technology. It has also struggled with vehicle fires and battery pack problems. Fisker's luxury sports car, the Karma, was priced at $100,000.

"Last year, Wanxiang acquired the assets from the bankrupt A123 Systems, which made batteries for Fisker and also benefitted from U.S. government loans.

"China is home to the world's largest auto market and is trying to become a major auto manufacturer. Chinese companies often acquire foreign firms to develop crucial know-how."

As we reported last year, Fisker received a $529 million loan from the Department of Energy in 2009 a fact that was the center of hearings on Capitol Hill when lawmakers grilled the automaker's executives about its financial troubles. Those headlines were a far cry from 2009, when we were asking: Can Fisker Save American Cars?

Fisker, of course, is the face of the financially troubled electric car market. The face of its relative success is Tesla. The San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday that a top Apple executive met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk last spring to possibly buy the carmaker. A Tesla spokeswoman declined to comment to the newspaper. But the auto blog Jalopnik notes that Apple's goal could just be "getting iOS into a very visible car."

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