So, for anyone that watched the Debate last night – I did and I am suffering today thanks to the late evening – you saw presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney, hit our sector a few times. One time, he took a direct swipe at two alternative-energy car companies in one statement. If you missed the statement, here it is:
"Now, I like green energy as well, but that’s about 50 years’ worth of what oil and gas receives," Romney said during the first of three Presidential debates. "You put $90 billion — like 50 years’ worth of breaks — into solar and wind, to Solyndra and Fisker and Tesla and Ener1. I mean, I had a friend who said, you don’t just pick the winners and losers; you pick the losers."
Now, we’re not here to debate politics, but to call Tesla and Fisker “losers” is not quite fair. As a matter of fact, Tesla announced on Wednesday – the same day that Romney labeled it a “Loser” – that despite its struggles meeting delivery goals, which are due to supplier issues, it will become “cash-flow positive” by next month and will hit the 500-unit mark in just a few weeks.
Hitting that black in the ledger is a huge step for an upstart company and to see Tesla hitting it this soon is impressive. Musk also announced that despite criticisms of the DOE loan to Tesla , the company has always paid the loan installments on time and has never even given a thought to postponing the payments.
We are not too sure exactly what will come of Tesla in the long run, but it is already prepping the release of its second vehicle, the Model X SUV, and there is a light at the end of the very long upstart tunnel for Musk and Tesla. We’ll keep an eye on the ledger sheet and let you know if Tesla meets this anticipated milestone on time or not.
Click past the jump to read Mr. Musk’s blogged press release.
Though there is no mention of who Fisker may be looking to partner up with, its CEO-for-the-moment, Tony Posawatz, said that a partnership is “on our radar screen.” Chances are it will be looking for deals similar to the ones that Tesla has entered into with Daimler and Toyota . The real question is who would be interested in tying themselves to Fisker at this point in the game?
With the financial, quality, and safety issues that Fisker has endured lately, it may be more of a burden than it’s worth. This is almost the identical reason that no one is interested in Lotus to date; it’s just too risky of a venture.
Fisker may be willing to sweet the pot on a potential deal by covering more production costs or giving up partial ownership to help draw in an industry leader, like acquisition-happy Volkswagen , in order to get some much-needed cash flow. As it stands right now, Fisker needs help and a partnership may be its only way to survive.
We’ll keep an eye on this to see if Fisker can convince a fellow automaker to take a risk by inking a production deal of some sort.
So, Fisker has been out and about doing its corporate panhandling, err, "fundraising program" in an attempt to raise $150 million to keep its doors open and develop a red hot following to the on-fire Karma, which sold 1,500 models – all of which have been recalled at least once. Fisker plans to release this new follow-up model, the Atlantic, in December 2012.
Well, it looks like interest is starting to decrease in the Fisker line up, as it fell a full $50 million short of its fundraising goal. Fisker’s latest CEO stand-in, Tony Posawatz, seems to think that this is plenty of money to keep the heat turned on and develop its follow up model to the Karma. In a statement, Posawatz said ““We are grateful to both our investors and our initial customers who have supported our company and are quickly becoming our biggest advocates.” He also said “This is another major vote of confidence in Fisker’s pioneering technology and business model”
Since 2007, Fisker has swindled investors out of $1.2 billion dollars and the federal government also tossed in an additional $193 million before turning off the leaking faucet that was its $529 million loan promise to Fisker. So that means they blew through about $240 million per year.
So the Fisker saga will continue for at least a short amount of time, as that $100 million likely won’t get them too far – maybe another six months. We should get to see at least a few CEO changes as it burns through the quarters and pennies that investors tossed into Fisker’s coffee can as they drove by…
We wonder how Tesla is doing…
Click past the jump to read Fisker’s press release.
We know what you’re thinking... No, Fisker didn’t break the world record for number of smoldering EVs, though it may be a record. Rather Fisker is obviously burning for a little positive pub, as it set two nearly unknown records.
A total of 45 Karma owners were gathered by Fisker’s Dutch arm and simultaneously charged their Karmas . This sets the record for number of single-branded vehicles charging at the same time. Burning up a record set by John and Susan Johnson of Schenectady, NY, who at one time charged their two Nissan Leafs (or is it “Leaves”) at the same time one evening. We’re kidding, of course; we have no clue who held the record before and likely neither does the former owner.
We wonder if all of these Karma owners were there to get their flaming recall fixed, or maybe to pay Karma to upgrade their cruddy navigation system. Either way, this Fisker was on fire that day, as it also had a hand in setting a second record, which was the highest number of mixed-brand electric vehicles to be charged simultaneously, which is now set at 50. This scorches the record of 43 set back in May by DBT CEV – don’t worry, we’ve never heard of them either – a manufacturer of charging stations and equipment.
We wonder if they had a bonfire party to celebrate the event? No need to ask one of the EV owners for a match, Fisker always brings its own to these kinds of events.
Congrats on smoking the competition, Fisker!
Click past the jump to read Fisker’s press release, hot off of the press.
A life lesson that most auto buffs learned from their parents is never buy a first-release vehicle, especially if it is bearing new technology. It is bound to have tons of bugs that will drive you insane. Well, when you dump $100K on a new car, you kind of expect it to be about as bug-free as possible. In the last year, we have seen two new cars come out bearing very new technologies, the Fisker Karma and Tesla Model S .
The Model S has moved along relatively unscathed with only minor complaints here and there. The Karma, on the other hand, has had a slew of issues and complaints. Oh, and this nasty little habit of spontaneously combusting when it’s parked.
Some of these bugs are being addressed in a very lukewarm sort of way, via a Fisker -created document called the “Customer Town Hall FAQ.” Some of the highlights include Fisker admitting that its navigation system pretty much stinks and they will “investigate ways to improve system performance” and Fisker realizing that they forgot to include a mute feature for the oft-error-filled navigation system. So, not only do you have a navi system that’s incorrect, but one that constantly blurts out “Left turn ahead” in the wrong places without the ability to mute it... Hmmm.
An odd one is a complaint that the engine still comes on when the car is in “Stealth” mode — a mode where it’s supposed to be noiseless. Fisker answered this by basically saying “the engine needs lubed,” “the emissions system runs with the fuel door open,” and “the high-voltage battery may ask for a charge when it really doesn’t need one.”
The biggest FAQ is when asked about software upgrades becoming free, Fisker simply says only warranty items will be free; anything that improves the functionality of existing will always carry a fee. Nearly every other car manufacturer performs these types of upgrades free of charge, what makes Fisker think they don’t need to? If GM will update my sister’s 160,000-mile Saturn’s computer for free (done a few weeks ago), why won’t Fisker update its year-old Karma’s unsatisfactory systems?
We guess Fisker needs a few more investors before they can afford that.
Click past the jump to read the entire “Customer Town Hall FAQ.”
It was just a matter of time before Tesla and Fisker had to duke it out for a second time – the first coming in a Fisker-won court battle . This time around, it was Tesla CEO, Elon Musk , that decided to drop the gloves and poke Fisker for a fight. In an interview with Automobile Magazine, Musk said “It’s a mediocre product at a high price,” when talking about the Karma . He also said that “[Fisker] thinks the most important thing in the world — or the only important thing in the world — is design, so he outsourced the engineering and manufacturing.”
Musk did, however, pay a much-deserved complement to the Karma, stating that “It looks good” and “Particularly from the side it looks good." That’s definitely a comment that we can all agree with. Even ousted Fisker CEO, Henrik Fisker, stated that he’s “delighted that Elon thinks the Karma is a good-looking car.” Fisker went on to assure us that Tesla and Fisker are not competitors and that they use two different technologies and are going after completely different customers.
We beg to differ with that statement. Yes, you are using different technologies – Tesla’s is far more advanced – but you are competing for the same customers. Any hybrid customer or extended-range EV buyer would be silly not to look into the technology that Tesla has created and anyone that thinks that they are not in competition with one another is a little bit disillusioned.
We think that Musk was a little brash with his statements and would be better off to keep his opinions out of the corporate spotlight, regardless of how true they may be. Then again, the comments are damn funny, regardless of how inappropriate they may have been. Guess we have to give Musk some credit for speaking his mind.
The second Fisker fire fiasco has officially come to a close and the investigation turned up pretty much what we all expected: the batteries were not at fault. As we stated in our initial report, the fire was near the front of the vehicle, so failed batteries would have been a rather unlikely cause.
After a full investigation by Fisker’s engineers and an “independent fire expert” from Pacific Rim Investigative Services, it was discovered that the fire source was a faulty low-temperature cooling fan. In a fit of customer service, Fisker has decided to recall all affected Karma units.
In a press release regarding the findings, Fisker makes sure that everyone knows it’s not responsible by passing the blame torch to the fan manufacturer, calling it the “responsible supplier.” While that is technically a true statement, there is really no need to openly pass that blame. In all reality, your company installed the fan and performed the obligatory testing on it.
Surprisingly, the most directly affected person – the owner of the Fisker flambe – had the following to say: “I have been incredibly impressed with the way Fisker has handled this incident. I have personally started seven technology companies and know from direct experience that the US needs more innovative companies of this type, especially in the automobile sector. Fisker is a great company and one that I am personally planning to invest in. I look forward to getting behind the wheel of my next Fisker.”
Good for the customer for being so forgiving, but we would be hard pressed to get behind the wheel of a Fisker until there is plenty testing done without any incidents of fire.
We’re glad to see this fiasco come to an end and we truly hope that this is the last of Fisker’s issues, as we want to see this alternative fuel technology succeed and this success depends on the success or failure of both Tesla and Fisker.
Click past the jump to read Fisker’s full presser.
It’s no secret that Fisker has been walking a financial tightrope without a net, ever since the Department of Energy froze the $529 million loan to the hybrid car company. Now it appears as if they are hitting the bottom of the piggy bank, as Ray Lane, one of Fisker’s directors and managing partners, has released in an interview that they need more money to finance their next car.
According to reports, Fisker has raised an impressive $400 million in the last 12 months, but still needs an additional $150 million to help fund its next model and hit the breakeven point. This is likely not even the last of the fundraising, as Lane also alluded to the possibility of Fisker having to schmooze investors for a little more money in 2013.
After the company is no longer running at an operating loss, Lane also anticipates the company releasing an initial public offering, making Fisker a publicly traded company. If recent IPOs are any indication of the future IPO market (See: Facebook, et al) Fisker may want to rethink that plan.
We are excited to see Fisker’s next model, despite its combustion issues, but it may want to slow its roll just a little bit and focus on making the Karma a profitable venture prior to branching out, much like Tesla is doing. We guess we’ll see how this all pans out in the future, but we think Fisker’s trying to run the 400-meter hurdles before it can even walk.
When two Fisker cars catch on fire within months of each other, what’s the first action you may expect from the car company? We would expect a thorough evaluation of the situation, a final determination, then maybe some internal rearranging, given the second fire is found to be caused by an issue with the company’s manufacturing process.
They must do things a little differently at Fisker, as it has chosen to replace its CEO – the second time that has happened this year, by the way – and replace him with Chevy Volt line director, Tony Posawatz. Interesting last name for a guy heading up a hybrid car company... Reuters is also reporting that the fired CEO will be around to offer “fatherly advice” to the new CEO, but he will not hold a formal role with the company.
We don’t know if Fisker’s latest CEO to enter the revolving door has anything to do with the Fisker-b-q that’s been going on recently, but the timing sure does seem a little strange to us. We are actually due to talk with Fisker at some point today, so we will make certain to ask their rep all about this situation while we’re on the phone with him.
We’re pretty sure we’ll get a canned response about the dismissal, but it’s well worth a try nonetheless. We’ll let you know what we hear from the rep, if he tells us anything at all.
Back in May, a Fisker Karma was parked in an owner’s garage when it suddenly burst into flames. That specific case was basically written off by investigators as a battery failure, being described as looking like a golf cart fire. This latest Fisker BBQ is a little different than the previous one, as the flames are in an area away from the batteries.
Fisker has released two statements in regards to this issue and essentially says: “we know of the fire,” “fires happen in cars,” and “we are looking into it, so calm down” in so many words. The second one summarizes as "we doubt it was the battery, as the fire was in the front," "the fire source was from outside of the engine compartment," and "we’re looking into it (again)." Fisker also states that it will release another statement once the investigation is complete and the final cause of the fire is determined.
Fisker is really doing everything it can to keep people from thinking that this fire has anything to do with its battery packs. One of the more likely causes to the lack of EV sales these days is the public fear of electrical shorts in these high-voltage machines and the related fires.
We’ll keep you updated on this one and let you know all of the latest news. Check out the above video to see the flaming Fisker being put out.
Click past the jump to read Fisker’s two press releases.