Fisker Automotive had a pretty bad 2013 and saying that feels like a massive understatement. But from the ashes of bankruptcy, the company has been brought back to life by the deep pockets of Chinese auto-parts company Wanxiang. Things are definitely looking much better now for Fisker, or whatever it’s new name is going to be if, as is being reported, the new bosses at the company decide to completely build under a new company name.
Speaking to the OC Register, newly appointed Fisker interim president Roger Brown, a managing partner at Nashville-based Summit Strategic Investments who has worked with Wanxiang for years, has been coy on whether the company will be rebranded under a different name. Brown points out that whatever name it goes by moving forward, the cars have been and will always be the "rock stars."
On that end, Brown expressed confidence that the Karma luxury hybrid will be relaunched in 2015 without the multitude of problems that plagued its previous incarnation and ultimately led to the company’s bankruptcy. In addition to the Karma, Wanxiang is also looking at jump-starting the development of two other cars - the Surf wagon and the entry-level Atlantic - in the future with an eye towards launching the former in 2016 and the latter in 2017.
All this is tremendous news for people who actually had some good things to say about the Karma. That includes us . It’s just unfortunate the old regime didn’t have the right financial structure to address all the problems that came with developing its cars. None of us knew it at that time, but Fisker was a sinking ship and it was already too late to call for help.
But now that the brand is under new management and is owned by a Chinese company that apparently paid cash to buy Fisker, things are finally looking up for the once proud Fisker brand. It’s also comforting to know that, according to Brown, Wanxiang brought Fisker because it wants "to build a great car company."
But the biggest difference, and the most important one, is that Wanxiang has money. Lots of it. And from the looks of it, the company is not afraid to spend to realize its vision of turning Fisker into that great car company.
Click past the jump to read more about the Fisker Karma.
Why It Matters
If done and sold right, the Fisker Karma had the potential to be a real game-changer for the auto industry. It was an electric car that had sports car looks. But we’re not going into revisionist history here because Fisker’s got some new life in it.
Thanks to Wanxiang, the technology that made the Karma such an appealing vehicle as recently as two years ago hasn’t been lost. If the Chinese company can get Fisker up and running again with better organizational and financial structures, the sky really is the limit for Fisker, as we all hoped it would’ve been before.
In 2008, Fisker unveiled the Karma concept at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit and after a few delays, it hit showrooms.
The Karma had it all: sexy looks, a plush interior, high-tech gadgets, superior design, low fuel consumption and ample power. In fact, its power was more than ample, as its electric drive system pumped out 403 horsepower and 981 pound-feet of torque at full tilt. This was enough to sprint this mammoth sedan to 60 mph in just 6.3 seconds.
Unfortunately, an immediate recall slowed sales, then build quality and over-engineering caught up with the sedan. Buyers found so many issues with the car that it ultimately torpedoed its reputation in the market. But the death knell occurred when the U.S. Department of Energy pulled its loan to the struggling company for repeatedly missing its goals. And then, Karmas started going up in flames due to failed cooling fans.
Not long after that, Fisker filed for bankruptcy. If not for the financial heroism of Chinese auto parts company Wanxiang, the Fisker brand still would’ve had its tombstone standing.
But now its new owner has way deeper pockets than the previous regime, things are finally looking up for Fisker as it prepares to relaunch all of its models in the coming years.