Fisker Automotive

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fisker Automotive
TypePrivate corporation
Luxury plug-in hybrid cars
FoundedAugust 2007; 15 years ago (2007-08)[1][2] (as Fisker Automotive)
Anaheim, California, U.S.
FoundersHenrik Fisker
Bernhard Koehler[3]
Defunct2014 (2014)
FateDeclared bankruptcy in November 2013; assets bought by Wanxiang in February 2014; Henrik Fisker founded Fisker Inc in 2016, not to be confused with Karma Automotive founded in 2014.
SuccessorKarma Automotive
Fisker Inc.
HeadquartersAnaheim, California, U.S.[4]
Key people
Tony Posawatz (CEO)[5]
Bernhard Koehler (COO)[6]
Number of employees
53 (March 2013)[7][8]

Fisker Automotive was an American company known for producing the Fisker Karma, which was one of the world's first production luxury plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. It debuted at the 2008 North American International Auto Show, and first deliveries were in 2011. Production of the Fisker Karma was suspended in November 2012 due to bankruptcy of its battery supplier A123 Systems,[9] with about 2,450 Karmas built since 2011 and over 2,000 cars sold worldwide.[10] In February 2014, Fisker Automotive's Karma vehicle design, tooling and a manufacturing facility in Delaware were purchased by Chinese auto parts conglomerate Wanxiang Group. In 2016. Wanxiang would rename the holding company for the assets of Fisker Automotive to Karma Automotive.[11] Henrik Fisker, the founder, former chairman, former CEO, of Fisker Automotive, retained the Fisker trademark and the Fisker logo, and launched a new, separate company called Fisker Inc.[12]


Henrik Fisker co-founded Fisker Automotive in 2007 with Fisker Coachbuild partner Bernhard Koehler and Quantum Technologies after securing U$5.2 million investment from Gianfranco Pizzuto, an Italian businessman, and Palo Alto Investors. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a venture capital firm, was one of the early investors. Fisker is responsible for designing many premium cars such as the Aston Martin DB9 and V8 Vantage, Artega GT, and BMW Z8. He also served as design director and sat on the board at Aston Martin.

Before Fisker Automotive, Fisker and Koehler left Aston Martin in 2005 to establish Fisker Coachbuild, in an attempt to revive the art of coach-building automobiles to customer specifications.[13] The Fisker Tramonto and Latigo used chassis and power trains from Mercedes-Benz SL and BMW 6 Series automobiles. Several were purchased, but the business soon gave way to Fisker Automotive, a true automobile manufacturer.

In 2009, Fisker mentioned plans for another plug-in hybrid, a "high-volume vehicle for a lower price", subject to getting a U.S. Department of Energy loan[14] to build about 100,000 vehicles annually in the United States.[15]

On April 14, 2008, Tesla Motors filed a lawsuit against Fisker Automotive, alleging they stole Tesla's technology and were using it to develop their own hybrid car, the Fisker Karma, which was announced at the North American International Auto Show in January 2008. Tesla's suit claimed that the design work done for the Model S by Fisker Coachbuild was substandard, and that Fisker diverted its best ideas to the Karma.[16] In early 2009, the suit was settled in Fisker's favor and Tesla was ordered to pay Fisker more than US$1.1 million in legal fees.[17] [18]

Fisker's problems started with recall of its battery by A123 in December 2011, followed by a second recall by A123 Systems in March 2012 and eventually a bankruptcy of its battery supplier A123 Systems in August 2012, the costs involved regarding a recall and repairs to customer cars. In addition to production stopping for over five months, with no date announced to recommence, the planned production of the second model, the Fisker Atlantic, was postponed, together with the cessation of development of the new model.

In February 2012, Tom LaSorda was named the new CEO,[19] and Henrik Fisker became executive chairman,[20] but six months later on August 14, La Sorda was replaced by Tony Posawatz, previously General Motors Vehicle Line Director for the Chevrolet Volt.[21]

The company suffered a setback on October 29, 2012, when Hurricane Sandy flooded and destroyed its entire European shipment of 338 Karmas at Port Newark, New Jersey.[22] Sixteen of the cars burned, because six to eight feet of seawater caused a short circuit in a vehicle control unit in one Karma, and high winds spread the resulting fire to 15 others.[23] The company said that its lithium-ion battery was not at fault.[23] Insurer XL Insurance America initially denied the roughly US$30 million loss claim and was subsequently sued by Fisker in New York State Supreme Court. The case was settled with an undisclosed out-of-court agreement.[24]

Henrik Fisker resigned in March 2013,[25] after "disagreements with management", in particular "disagreements over business strategy".[26] Shortly after the departure of Henrik Fisker from Fisker Automotive, on April 5, 2013, Fisker laid off 75% of its workforce, retaining only a core group of 40 workers as it continued to negotiate with prospective investors.[27][28]

On October 11, 2013, Hybrid Technology LLC agreed to buy Fisker's defaulted government loan at a heavy discount. On November 22, 2013, Fisker filed its Chapter 11 bankruptcy case. Concurrently, on November 23, 2013, Fisker agreed, subject to bankruptcy court approval, to be acquired by Hybrid, owned by Hong Kong billionaire, Richard Li.[29][30] At the last moment, though, Chinese parts supplier Wanxiang Group submitted a competing bid of US$24.75 million, supported by the Official Creditors' Committee in the case. Wanxiang had earlier lost out to Hybrid in bidding for purchase of the government's loan to Fisker. Wanxiang owns A123 Systems LLC, Fisker's former battery supplier, and Fisker argued that Wanxiang's conduct was partly responsible for Fisker's business failure. As part of its bid, Wanxiang proposed restarting production of the Karma.[31]

Wanxiang received court approval on February 18, 2014, to buy the assets of Fisker after a three-day auction against Hybrid with a bid of $149.2 million, with bidding starting at $55 million, significantly more than the previous $24.75 million bid, and significantly higher than the $25 million Hybrid Technology LLC paid the Department of Energy for a $164 million loan note.[32] On top of the $25 million, the DOE also recouped $28 million from Fisker for a total of $53 million recovered of its $192 million loan.[33]

Following Fisker Automotive's structured bankruptcy auction in February 2014, Henrik Fisker retained the Fisker logo and trademarks. Wanxiang Group then transformed the assets of Fisker Automotive into a new company named Karma Automotive, thus launching the Karma Revero plug-in hybrid car based on the Fisker Karma. Henrik Fisker would later start another electric vehicle company named Fisker Inc in 2016 with the Fisker logo and trademarks.[34]

Production models[edit]

Fisker Karma[edit]

Fisker Karma outside the Fisker headquarters in Anaheim, California

The Karma was a plug-in hybrid luxury sports sedan produced by Fisker Automotive and manufactured at Valmet Automotive in Finland. After missing its initial late 2009 launch, and after the launch was rescheduled several times, the first deliveries took place in the U.S. in late July 2011 and deliveries to retail customers began in November 2011.

The 20.1 kWh (72.36 MJ) lithium ion rechargeable battery in each car came from A123 Systems in Watertown, Massachusetts. The aluminum frame was engineered by Fisker and was supplied by Norsk Hydro from Norway. The cabin interior was designed by Fisker Automotive, but was made in the United States by Magna International of Canada. The EVer powertrain system, technically a series hybrid, delivered over 400 horsepower, and was inspired by Quantum Technologies, a cofounder of and early investor in Fisker.[35] A version of the Karma was relaunched as the Karma Revero in 2016 by Karma Automotive.[36]


By February 2012, Fisker had established 45 dealerships in the US and three in Canada.[37] By March 2012, the company had built over 2,450 vehicles, with over 2000 cars delivered to customers by the end of 2012.[38][39] Fisker Automotive distributed vehicles through a traditional dealer network and partnered with five importers: GP Supercars (Merano, Italy), Nellemann (Copenhagen, Denmark); the Emil Frey Group (Zurich, Switzerland); BD Otomotive (Istanbul, Turkey)[40] and Al-Futtaim Group (Middle East and North Africa).[41]


Fisker Automotive used to retain core competencies, such as design, engineering and marketing, in house, but outsourced manufacturing of its first vehicle Fisker Karma.[42] Fisker's outsourcing methods allowed the company a 2–3 year period of development instead of the typical 5 years and at a cost of US$333 million instead of $1 billion,[42] and claimed that it could make a profit from selling just 15,000 cars.[2] Fisker used to save significant development costs by using pre-engineered components developed by other car companies whenever possible, such as the door handle mechanism which was a General Motors part; Fisker Automotive just paid a royalty to GM for each door handle in the Karma, which was much cheaper than designing its own door handles.[35] However, the A123 battery failure and its resulting recall, and the eventual bankruptcy of the battery supplier,[43] led to significant problems and added cost to the manufacture of the Karma model, finally resulting in Fisker's bankruptcy.

In 2008, Fisker estimated 15,000 cars per year would be assembled by Valmet Automotive in Uusikaupunki, Finland.[44] Manufacturing eventually commenced in 2011 but by the third quarter of 2012 production ceased.[45]

Then-Vice President of the United States Joe Biden (later President) attended the October 27, 2009, announcement that Fisker Automotive would take control of the Boxwood Road Plant (previously owned and operated by General Motors as Wilmington Assembly) in Wilmington, Delaware, with production scheduled to begin in late 2012.[46][47] This never happened and the plant was ultimately torn down.[48]


Fisker Automotive's investors have included Leonardo DiCaprio,[49] Palo Alto Investors, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Qatar Holdings, LLC, A123 Systems, and Ace Investments.

In April 2012, Fisker announced it had received $392 million in a round of financing,[50] which was in addition to $850 million in private investment it had received in previous rounds.[51] In Fisker's bankruptcy case, Hybrid Technology LLC ranked ahead of all the equity investors as a senior creditor since they purchased the Department of Energy loan note to Fisker Automotive in November 2013.[52]

Fisker had received a US$528.7 million conditional loan in September 2009 from the Department of Energy's US$25 billion Advanced Technologies Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program (ATVM).[53][54] Of the total loan amount approved, a total of US$192 million was drawn by Fisker Automotive for engineering work with primarily US suppliers to complete the Fisker Karma and Fisker's Project Nina, later revealed as the Fisker Atlantic.[55]

The Department of Energy froze Fisker's credit line in August 2012 after US$192 million had been drawn, and after differences between the DOE and Fisker on the milestones set as conditions for the loan.[56][57] The loan received additional scrutiny for being awarded for the manufacture of luxury vehicles that are too expensive for much of the general public.[58] Fisker investor Ray Lane responded that the issues were being blown out of proportion due to election-year politics.[58]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Documented History of Fisker Automotive - PrivCo". Archived from the original on November 20, 2020. Retrieved May 24, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Driven: How Henrik Fisker Aims to Floor the Auto Industry | Magazine". June 22, 2010. Retrieved June 30, 2010.
  3. ^ Fact Sheet Archived September 5, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Fisker Automotive
  4. ^ "Fisker Strikes Deal for HQ in Anaheim | Orange County Business Journal". Retrieved May 24, 2019.
  5. ^ "Tony Posawatz replaces Tom LaSorda as Fisker CEO". Retrieved August 14, 2012.
  6. ^ "Biography of Fisker Automotive COO Bernhard Koehler". September 15, 2009. Archived from the original on June 18, 2012. Retrieved July 10, 2012.
  7. ^ "Fisker sued for sudden layoffs". USA TODAY. Retrieved May 24, 2019.
  8. ^ "The sad long story of Fisker Automotive, 'the largest VC-backed debacle in U.S. history'". April 17, 2013. Retrieved May 24, 2019.
  9. ^ Bradley Berman (March 13, 2013). "Henrik Fisker Resigns From Fisker Automotive". The New York Times. Retrieved June 18, 2013.
  10. ^ Deepa Seetharaman and Paul Lienert (June 17, 2013). "Special Report: Bad Karma: How Fisker burned through $1.4 billion on a 'green' car". Reuters. Archived from the original on August 12, 2016. Retrieved June 18, 2013.
  11. ^ "Judge Approves Fisker Asset Sale to Wanxiang". The New York Times.
  12. ^ Paul A. Eisenstein, "Tesla's Rival is Back: Fisker Launches All-New Battery-Car Company" NBC News, October 4, 2016.
  13. ^ Callaway, Sue Zesiger (September 19, 2007). "When a perfect Porsche isn't good enough". Fortune. Archived from the original on July 11, 2012. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
  14. ^ Joseph Szczesny (May 13, 2009). "Fisker CEO has plans for smaller electric car in 2010 Published: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 JOSEPH SZCZESNY". The Oakland Press. Archived from the original on May 20, 2009. Retrieved January 19, 2012.
  15. ^ Soyoung Kim (September 16, 2009). "Fisker Automotive targets 2011 profit". Reuters. Retrieved January 19, 2012.
  16. ^ Migliore, Greg (April 16, 2008). "Tesla sues Fisker, alleges theft of trade secrets". AutoWeek: News & Views. Archived from the original on May 21, 2008. Retrieved April 16, 2008.
  17. ^ LaMonica, Martin (November 4, 2008). "Tesla Motors loses trade secrets case against Fisker". CNET News. Archived from the original on October 26, 2013. Retrieved February 16, 2022.
  18. ^ "ARBITRATOR FIRM EARLIER FINDING IN FAVOR OF FISKER AND AWARDS FISKER $1,144,385" (PDF). Fisker Automotive. December 11, 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 2, 2009. Retrieved February 16, 2022.
  19. ^ "Fisker CEO revamps business plan amid Karma woes". The Guardian. London. April 4, 2012. Retrieved April 10, 2012.
  20. ^ "Fisker Automotive Appoints Tom LaSorda As CEO". Fisker Automotive. February 28, 2012. Retrieved April 10, 2012.
  21. ^ Lavrinc, Damon (January 31, 1958). "Wired Autopia August 14, 2012". Retrieved February 2, 2013.
  22. ^ Chernova, Yuliya (November 6, 2012). "Sandy Swamped Shipment of More Than 300 Fisker Hybrid Cars". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
  23. ^ a b Davies, Alex (November 5, 2012). "Here's Why 16 Fisker Karmas Burned During Hurricane Sandy". Business Insider. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
  24. ^ Dolmetsch, Chris. "Fisker Automotive Agrees to End XL Insurance America Suit". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved November 14, 2013.
  25. ^ Hirsch, Jerry (March 13, 2013). "Management fight pushes Henrik Fisker from car company he founded". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
  26. ^ Berman, Bradley (March 13, 2013). "Henrik Fisker Resigns From Fisker Automotive". The New York Times. Retrieved March 14, 2013.
  27. ^ King, Danny (March 31, 2013). "Fisker hires bankruptcy team after worker furlough". AutoblogGreen. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
  28. ^ Hirsch, Jerry (April 5, 2013). "Fisker Automotive lays off most workers, struggles to find investor". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 5, 2013.
  29. ^ Keane, Angela Greiling (November 23, 2013). "Fisker to Sell Assets in Bankruptcy at $139 Million Lossn". Bloomberg. Retrieved November 23, 2013.
  30. ^ Chase, Randall (November 26, 2013). "Fisker bankruptcy: Feds to lose $139 million on Fisker Automotive". Christian Science Monitor. Archived from the original on February 28, 2021. Retrieved February 16, 2022.
  31. ^ Hals, Tom (January 2, 2014). "Fisker seeks rejection of Chinese suitor it blames for its bankruptcy". Reuters. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  32. ^ Hals, Tom (February 18, 2014). "Court clears sale of hybrid car maker Fisker to China's Wanxiang". Reuters. Retrieved February 19, 2014.
  33. ^ Bill Canis, Brent D. Yacobucci. "The Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) Loan Program: Status and Issues" page 11-13. 7-5700 R42064. Congressional Research Service, January 15, 2015.
  34. ^ Paul Leinert, "This Startup Founder Plans to Take on Tesla – Again," Time, October 4, 2016.
  35. ^ a b Muller, Joann (June 8, 2009). "The Next Detroit (page 2)". Archived from the original on April 20, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2009.
  36. ^ "Inside the Fisker Karma's Impossible Return From Automotive Hell". WIRED. August 19, 2016. Archived from the original on August 20, 2016. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
  37. ^ "Fisker Expands Reach Into Canada". Fisker Automotive. February 2, 2012. Retrieved April 10, 2012.
  38. ^ "Consumer Reports' $100K Fisker Karma dies on arrival". USA Today. March 8, 2012. Retrieved April 10, 2012.
  39. ^ "A Year of Few Dull Moments". The New York Times. December 21, 2012. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
  40. ^ "Fisker Automotive Fact Sheet". Fisker Automotive. Archived from the original on April 23, 2012. Retrieved April 10, 2012.
  41. ^ "Fisker Automotive Expands Reach in Middle East & North Africa" (Press release). Fisker Automotive. April 23, 2012. Archived from the original on April 4, 2015. Retrieved April 28, 2012.
  42. ^ a b Muller, Joann (June 8, 2009). "The Next Detroit". Retrieved September 14, 2009.
  43. ^ "A123 Shows Risks as Battery Science Meets Government Cash". Bloomberg L.P. October 18, 2012. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
  44. ^ "Valmet Automotive announces a Letter of Intent for an Assembly Contract with Fisker Automotive" (Press release). Valmet Automotive. July 15, 2008. Archived from the original on November 13, 2008. Retrieved July 21, 2008.
  45. ^ "Fisker Karma production at standstill". YLE. November 30, 2012. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
  46. ^ "Fisker Automotive to Buy U.S. Assembly Plant to Build Affordable Plug-in Hybrid Cars" (Press release). Fisker Automotive. October 27, 2009. Retrieved January 19, 2012.
  47. ^ "Fisker Automotive Poised to Take Over GM Plant in Newport Federal Judge OKs Sale" (Press release). State of Delaware. June 29, 2010. Archived from the original on November 17, 2011. Retrieved January 19, 2012.
  48. ^ "Amazon to open new fulfillment center on site of former Delaware GM plant". WHYY. Retrieved November 19, 2021.
  49. ^ Devereux, Pat. "Top Gear meets Leonardo DiCaprio". © BBC Worldwide Ltd. Retrieved September 20, 2012.
  50. ^ "Amid Setbacks, Fisker Automotive Closes On $392M In New Financing". Venture Capital Dispatch. Wall Street Journal Blogs. April 2, 2012.
  51. ^ St. John, Jeff (April 2, 2012). "Fisker Raises $392M, Ups Goal to $500M". greentechmedia.
  52. ^ Hals, Tom (December 10, 2013). "Judge raises concerns about Fisker's race through bankruptcy". Reuters. Retrieved December 10, 2013.
  53. ^ "Department of Energy - ATVM Loan Program". U.S. Department of Energy. Archived from the original on August 12, 2011. Retrieved October 25, 2009.
  54. ^ Mitchell, Josh; Power, Stephen (September 25, 2009). "Gore-Backed Car Firm Gets Large U.S. Loan". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 17, 2010.
  55. ^ "US Energy Secretary Chu Announces $528 Million Loan for Advanced Vehicle Technology for Fisker Automotive" (Press release). United States Department of Energy. September 22, 2009. Archived from the original on October 15, 2011. Retrieved January 19, 2012.
  56. ^ Angela Greiling Keane; Jef Feeley (February 10, 2012). "Fisker Stops Work on Car Factory After U.S. Blocks Loan". Bloomberg Businessweek.
  57. ^ Mark Clothier; Jeffrey McCracken; Angela Greiling Keane (April 23, 2012). "U.S. Said to Hire Restructuring Adviser to Monitor Fisker". Bloomberg.
  58. ^ a b Jonathan Starkey (April 20, 2012). "Gingrich blames VP Biden for Fisker stall". Delaware Online.

External links[edit]