By MARCOS RICARDETTIThe Associated PressWASHINGTON (AP) – The world’s largest home electric company said Wednesday it plans to sell the company that builds its most expensive homes in a move aimed at increasing competition in the market for electric appliances.
Bellingham Electric Corp., which has made electric vehicles a cornerstone of its business model, said it plans a $1 billion buyout of the company’s largest U.S. home appliance manufacturing facility in Washington state, adding the company plans to cut roughly 10 percent of its workforce and move its manufacturing facilities to Asia.
The move will help make the company more competitive in the electric appliance market, the company said.
Bellingsing Electric said it will retain the existing manufacturing operations and will invest $2 billion in a new plant in western Washington state.
The company said the move is intended to accelerate the rapid growth of its electric home appliances business, which grew by more than 40 percent from 2010 to 2020, with nearly $1.5 billion in revenue.
The company said it has raised $1 million in funding from investors including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Fidelity Investments, General Catalyst Partners and others.
The deal also will involve $400 million of debt.
The purchase comes at a critical time for the electric vehicle market, which is in a state of transition from a gas-fueled economy to a battery-electric economy.
It’s also a time of transition for electric car makers.
The $3,500 Bellingham Electric SUV will be built at a new facility in the Seattle area, replacing the $2,500 model that was built there.
The SUV is expected to be the first electric SUV on the market in 2020.
It is expected sell for around $60,000.
The other appliance factory that will be shuttered is in western New Mexico.
That plant makes the Tesla Model S, which has been a popular choice among consumers for its low price and low emissions.
The plant will remain open.
The announcement comes as more states have approved electric vehicle regulations, which will require automakers to sell cars with electric powertrains and allow electric vehicles to be sold on public roads.