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.
Oh boy, Fisker has been run through the ringer in the past year, or so, but Henrik Fisker remains optimistic that everything’s going to be all right. During the Chicago Auto Show, Mr. Fisker was heard saying that he anticipates the Karma’s production to restart “fairly soon” after its recent halt.
To recap the recent struggles: Fisker first had tons of cars destroyed by Hurricane Sandy; their insurance company denied the claim for said damaged vehicles; A123 – their battery supplier – went belly up; and the aforementioned temporary cessation of the Karma’s production. We’re not even going to get into the fire issues that marred the company’s image for a period of time.
With the approval of the sale of A123 to Wanxiang Group – a Chinese firm – one step in the restart process for the Karma is nearly complete. Fisker is still relying on an outside consultant to straighten out its business practices to save it a little cash and for an investor or strategic partner to bring in a little extra operating capital.
We are thoroughly convinced that the Karma is a quality luxury sedan, despite its earlier issues, so we are hoping that its production will restart without a hitch and that it will ultimately succeed. We’ll continue following the Karma saga and update you as more details emerge.
Few car companies can’t wait for 2012 to end more than Fisker, as it combated quality issues, loan freezing and supplier bankruptcy throughout the year. Well, it looks like drama is going to follow the electric-car company into the New Year, unfortunately. As we already know, 338 Karmas were damaged during hurricane Sandy and some 16 units actually caught fire – not related to any faults by Fisker – and an insurance claim was submitted.
Apparently, the insurance company decided to void the claim after reviewing the claim. According to the report from Reuters, the issue becomes whether the damaged Karmas were “in transit” when they were damaged. In the case of “in transit” vehicles, sublimits beyond the $100 million limit on the insurance policy would apply.
In response to the denial, Fisker has filed a lawsuit against the company in an effort to get a court order for the insurance company – XL Insurance America – to pay the claim and for damages caused by the breach of contract. Hopefully Fisker can sort this out and get itself on track, as we were extremely impressed by the Karma on our test drive and we would hate to see any more hiccups in the vehicle’s production.
After nearly a year of seeing Mitt Romney and Barack Obama fling mud – maybe even a little poo – back and forth at each other, the election is finally over. Love him or hate him, Obama is in office for another four years and he has already shown that he likes to dwell in the automotive realm (see: automotive bailout, Chrysler bankruptcy, and DOE loans for EV technology).
A big one on our radar these days is the renewal of the CAFÉ standards – yes, it was a renewal; the CAFÉ standards are nothing new – and their direct impact on the sport car realm. By the year 2025, all automakers must have a corporate average fuel economy rating of at least 54.5 mpg, a number that sports cars often drag down.
There is a good possibility that one of three things will happen due to these standards. First, is the chance that automakers install more advance turbocharging technologies on vehicles in order to keep their power output high and fuel economy high too. With those technologies come rising price tags – something we are already experiencing today. The second – most unlikely – scenario is the complete elimination of all powerful sports cars, leaving behind just the likes of the underpowered-for-a-true-sports-car Scion FR-S-like vehicles. The third scenario is one that would satisfy our itch for fast cars and the EPA’s itch for eco-friendly cars, and that is the widespread development of super powerful electric, hydrogen fuel cell or natural gas sports cars.
The latter situation is one that we already know is possible. Have a look as the Tesla Model S and you’ll see a car that can travel 300 miles on a charge and still zip to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. And that is a rather large sedan, so imagine it as a sports car. Same goes for the mid-5-second sprint to 60 mph that the 5,000-pound Fisker Karma completes. The final example is the Maxximus LNG 2000 and its 1,600-horsepower natural-gas-powered engine.
We think that this renewal of Obama’s stay at the White House won’t necessarily bring about the conversion to alternative fuel sports cars in the next four years, but it will certainly accelerate the process significantly. We honestly think it is a thing to look forward too, not be afraid of. Just think, no more gas station trips!!
Yesterday, we let you know that 16 Fisker Karmas went up in flames after they were submerged at a New Jersey port following Hurricane Sandy. We now have Fisker’s official announcement regarding these fires, and it’s actually a little better a situation than we had initially assumed.
According to the report from Fisker, a single Karma caught fire after saltwater left corrosive residue on the vehicle control unit. This component then shorted out and caused a fire. The heavy winds from the Hurricane then spread the flames to the other 16 Karmas parked near it. This means that the other 15 burned Karmas actually survived submersion without catching fire. To us, that’s actually pretty incredible.
Also being reported is that the Karma was not the only vehicle that burned after Sandy beat the hell out of the northeast, as several Toyota Priuses and even a few gasoline-powered cars joined in on the automotive BBQ. Fisker has also debunked the myth that there was an explosion from the burning Karmas and that the lithium ion batteries – one of the more scary parts of electric vehicles – were not a contributing factor in the fire.
Just like we said before, when you add water to electronics, bad things are bound to happen. It’s actually pretty incredible that just one Karma went up in flames as a direct result of being submerged. In case you are thinking Fisker may have “cooked the books” on this investigation, keep in mind that the NHTSA was involved in the investigation.
UPDATE 11/08/2012: After a crazy week at Fisker, our contact was finally able to get back to us and let us know that the Karmas damaged totaled 338 and Fisker is putting through an insurance claim for them. Also, the cars destroyed were simply dealership stock and were not pre-sold vehicles, so no customers will be out of a car. Additionally, the damaged Karmas will not affect Fisker’s normal business operations moving forward.
Fisker also provided us with their full press release regarding the situation.
Click past the jump to read the full presser.
Fisker had some issues with Karmas and spontaneous combustion, as of late, and even mentioning the word “Fire” in Fisker’s home office is likely an offense likely worthy of firing. Wait, but you can’t say “Firing” either, so how about “Termination.” Reports out of New Jersey of Karmas catching fire following Hurricane Sandy couldn’t have possibly come at a worse time.
According to the reports, a group of Fisker Karmas were sitting at port in New Jersey when seawater submerged them. A short time after their submersion, 16 of the stored Karmas burst into flames. From the images we are seeing, they are total losses and we will likely never know the precise cause, but Fisker is diligently investigating the situation.
One thing is for sure here, this will likely not have anything to do with a flaw in the Karma’s design. It’s likely no more Fisker’s fault than a blow dryer’s fault for you getting electrocuted while drying your hair in the bathtub. It’s simple: deep water + electronics = “zap” and “boom.” This is multiplied when you add in the corrosive salt in the ocean and the fact that these cars were likely submerged for a long time.
We are more concerned with whether these cars were already sold to customers or if they were just dealership stock. Plus, with the financial eggshells that all startups walk on, we are concerned with how losing this large of a percentage of Karmas produced will affect Fisker’s 2012 and 2013 outlook.
We’ve reached out to Fisker to try to get a better grasp on the situation. We’ll pass any information we get along to you.
The last time we checked in on Fisker, it had fallen short of its $150 million fundraising goal by about $50 million, but said that was plenty to help fund the development of the upcoming Atlantic sedan. Just recently, Fisker had an investor meeting and it had a little bit of bad news, per reports, as the Atlantic’s pre-production may not start until 2014. The anticipated timeline for the Atlantic was a 2013 startup, so this would place it about two years late to the party.
There are no reports as to why production is being delayed, but it is likely either a delay in getting the former GM plant that it purchased up to date for production or choosing an overseas assembly site. Once production gets rolling, Fisker will be adding over 1,000 jobs – hopefully to the U.S. market – plus it’ll be able to use this opportunity to put some of the Karma issues behind it. One issue that will certainly be resolved is the Karma’s high price, as according to the report, the Atlantic will come in at a relatively affordable $55,000 base price.
Also outlined in the presentation is the fact that Fisker is looking to partner up with other automakers to spread the Atlantic’s platform to other makes. That really comes as no surprise because that was already rumored, but now we have a little confirmation.
We are due to have a sit down with Fisker reps soon and this information will certainly be added onto the list of topics that we will cover.
Fresh from managing to nickel and dime an extra $100 million from private investors, Fisker is all but admitting that it needs more help – significantly more. In a rcent interview, Fisker let the cat out of the proverbial bag that it is currently looking to ink some partnership deals with larger manufacturers.
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”
Last time we checked, falling short of a goal by 33 percent is far from a “vote of confidence.” Then again, Fisker did thank its initial customer base, which we are sure will add plenty to the pot as they pay to upgrade the crummy infotainment system in the Karma that Fisker said it will not upgrade for free.
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.
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.
Fisker has been one of the more exciting rollercoaster rides in the automotive industry, as of late. In 2010, it was developing an extended range hybrid, then known as the Nina, and the Department of Energy was interested enough to provide the struggling company with a $529 million loan. This loan was three fold; part of it was for additional research for the Karma, part was for the Nina’s development, and the final portion was to renovate the old GM plant in Delaware.
Apparently Fisker didn’t meet the DOE’s expectations and they froze the loan in 2011, due to “unmet milestones.” Fisker then insisted that production of the Atlantic (the production name of the Nina) will commence at the Delaware plant, despite laying off 26 employees in early-February.
Well, the layoffs are still coming, as Fisker just let go of an additional 12 employees, including engineers and maintenance technicians, from its Delaware plant, which one laid off engineer called “absolutely empty.”
This is really making it look as if the Atlantic will not be produced in the Delaware plant. For that matter, it is starting to look like the Fisker brand as a whole may be in some significant trouble. The true question here is will the DOE see that Fisker’s recent progress is good enough to thaw out those loan funds and allow the company to continue its renovation of the Delaware plant and research on the Atlantic project? Or will the DOE watch Fisker squirm as it gasps for air wherever it can?
Chances are releasing the loan funds will never happen and it is looking like Fisker may fizzle out and end up amongst the heap of failed car companies, alongside Packard, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac. Only time will tell, but seeing the Atlantic – an affordable hybrid sports sedan – hit the market would be a great thing for the environment and the entire hybrid realm.
As much as we try to resist talking about every single celebrity’s car, there are some cases where a celebrity car also happens to be 100% ridiculous. In those cases, well, we just can’t help ourselves. Enter in, Justin Bieber’s 2012 Fisker Karma.
We aren’t reporting on the fact that this teen pop idol is being environmentally friendly, nor that he was handed the keys to this beautiful black Fisker Karma free of charge. Nope, that’s not the story. The story is that this 18-year-old pop sensation turned this beautifully sculpted ECO-supercar into a rolling mirror, literally.
We are cool with a little chrome, but there is a point when it becomes excessive. Mr. Bieber, you hit that point of excess, then broke through the barrier and tossed a live grenade at the remainder of that barrier to make sure it can never be crossed again.
This young man chromed out the entire car, not just a few accents here and there, the e-n-t-i-r-e car. Top to bottom coated in shiny, sunlight-reflecting chrome. Now, if he lived somewhere that the sun wasn’t excruciatingly intense, that might be cool, but this dude lives in California. As you can see from the above video, the sunlight creates a nearly blinding reflection on the car’s surface, which we would assume is illegal.
Um, nope, according to California law, a fully chromed out car is perfectly legal, but those pretty little mood lights under the front bumper are not legal. I remember getting pulled over repeatedly in Pennsylvania for my Camaro’s exhaust being too loud, that monstrosity of a Karma is louder than my Camaro’s exhaust could have ever been.
Hit the jump to see this beautiful machine before Bieber ruined, err, customized it.
Fisker Automotive is awarded $528 Million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy to build plug-in hybrid vehicles
The California based Fisker Automotive corporation has just been granted a sizable loan from the U.S. Government that will rapidly facilitate the automaker’s full scale production of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. The U.S. Department of Energy has signed off on and agreed to the terms of a conditional totaling over half a billion dollars so that Henrik Fisker’s car company can create affordable, fuel efficient hybrid electric vehicles that are made right here in the U.S.A. The $528,000,000 loan will also allow Fisker Automotive CEO, Henrik Fisker to create at least 5,000 jobs for autoworkers right here in the U.S.
If only General Motors and Chrysler had lineups as desirable as Henrik Fisker’s then perhaps the U.S. Government would have been a bit more eager to step in and help out with their financial needs. It is no doubt that fuel efficient gas electric hybrids are going to be the next generation of personal transportation and it is confidence inspiring that there is an automaker who not only believes in the future, but also believes that we don’t have to sacrifice fun in order to save fuel.