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E-car start-up to GM, Chrysler: Want to buy us?

Obama may be reluctant to lend a helping hand, but the lithium car battery specialist has a proposed solution: joining forces with one of the Detroit powerhouses.

Liv Inizio
Unlikely to be acquired by Chevy Volt maker GM, EV Innovations--the company behind the Liv Inizio electric sports car--may be in merger talks with a Detroit automaker. EV Innovations

Updated at 9:40 a.m. PDT with a comment from a Chrysler spokesperson.

EV Innovations, a lithium car battery specialist based in Las Vegas, is perhaps looking for a way to catch a few of the stimulus dollars aimed for Detroit.

The boutique electric-vehicle manufacturer, formerly named Hybrid Technologies, issued a statement on Thursday, April 2, 2009, announcing that the company "has begun the process of reaching out to both Chrysler and General Motors to discuss the possibilities of merging its cutting-edge electric-car manufacturing and lithium battery technology with the giant automakers."

If preliminary discussions are taking place, it's news to GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson.

"I think I would know about it if we were entering merger talks with another company," Wilkinson said of the ambitious plan. Wilkinson also asked about the date of the news release, dated April 2, and suggested that it was an April Fools' joke one day late.

But it's no joke. At least not to Aaron Manaigo, spokesman for EVI, who said the start-up has "begun the groundwork for beginning overtures with GM," while admitting in the same breath that no formal discussions have taken place.

Manaigo said he has acted as a third-party intermediary for the business arrangement, which was first proposed by EVI in December.

"We're unaware of any overtures," GM's Wilkinson said. "We get overtures all the time. We forward them unopened to our legal department."

A Chrysler spokesperson declined to comment.

As may be assumed by brothers Mike and Ron Cerven, who run EVI, getting acquired by one of the struggling U.S. automakers--especially GM--is unlikely.

GM is set with its current production plans for the Chevy Volt, an extended-range plug-in hybrid, and that it has already signed a contract with LG Chem to supply the car with lithium ion batteries, said Wilkinson.

"Even in our distressed state, we're still the second-largest vehicle manufacturer in the world," Wilkinson explained. "As I recall, EVI is a small manufacturer. The one thing the company seems to offer, we already do internally or have partners like LG Chem."

EVI's endeavors may be just a publicity stunt to promote the start-up's two new all-electric vehicles, the Inizio EVS and the Wave, which are set to be revealed at the New York International Auto Show next week. Manaigo insists, however, that EVI's overtures are legitimate and that the company's cars don't need additional promotion to garner media attention.

Media play or not, while a deal with GM is quite unlikely, EVI may well have good intentions, said Wilkinson.

"It's an exciting time in the automotive industry," Wilkinson said. "I enjoy seeing all the new companies trying to elbow their way to the top."