Mr. Fisker goes to Detroit: Fisker Automotive will open new technical center in the Midwest

Fisker AtlanticFisker Automotive’s Karma “extended-range electric vehicle” may be a new type of car, but the company is getting a beachhead in the traditional home of the American automobile. The company announced that it is looking to open a new technical center in the Midwestern United States, with the Detroit area being the most likely location.

Fisker says the new site, which will open in the spring of 2013, will give it more access to suppliers and “low-emission technical expertise.” The center will continue development work on Fisker’s second model, the Atlantic.

“This important step signals our commitment to bringing the Fisker Atlantic to market as soon as we can,” said Fisker Automotive president and CEO Tony Posawatz, who is no stranger to Detroit thanks to his work on Chevy Volt. “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.”

Despite some waffling over the past few months, Fisker confirmed that the Atlantic will be built in Delaware, saying that a Midwestern technical center would be closer to that East Coast site than the company’s Anaheim, California headquarters.

All Fisker corporate operations are currently located in California. Karma production takes place at Valmet Automotive in Finland, although the car’s batteries are made at A123 Systems’ Livonia, Michigan plant.

Fisker operated a technical center in Pontiac, Michigan from 2008 to 2010, to help with final development work on the Karma.

“We brought the Fisker Karma to market in record time with the help of our previous Michigan Technical facility, and now is the time to open up a permanent Technical Center to support the final Atlantic development,” Fisker co-founder and namesake Henrik Fisker said in a statement.

The Atlantic, first shown in April 2012, is supposed to build volume for Fisker by undercutting the Karma’s over-$100,000 price tag. The Atlantic is expected to cost roughly $60,000, and will use the same “EV-ER” plug-in powertrain technology as the Karma. However, the Atlantic’s gasoline engine will come from BMW, not General Motors.

Recent financial difficulties have pushed back the Atlantic’s launch, but the fact that Fisker is looking to expand to Michigan is a good sign. The company did the same thing when it was finishing development of the Karma four years ago, so hopefully that means work on the Atlantic is nearly finished.