Fisker in 2016
|Nationality||Danish & American|
|Alma mater||Art Center College of Design|
Henrik Fisker (born 10 August 1963) is a Danish-American automotive designer and entrepreneur residing in Los Angeles, California. He is best known for designing luxury cars including the BMW Z8, Aston Martin DB9, Aston Martin V8 Vantage, Fisker Karma, Galpin-Fisker Mustang Rocket, VLF Force 1 V10, VLF Destino V8, Fisker EMotion, Fisker Ocean, and Fisker Orbit. He also designed the Viking motorcycle and Benetti Fisker 50 superyacht, and is involved in the design of flexible solid-state battery technology. He is the founder of HF Design, co-founded VLF Automotive, founder and former CEO of Fisker Coachbuild, founder of Fisker Automotive, where he served as chairman and CEO until March 2013, and currently is the founder, chairman and CEO of Fisker Inc.
The Fisker Karma was the world's first premium plug-in hybrid, and received a handful of accolades, including the International Design Awards Product Design of the Year, Silver Edison Award, Automobile magazine's Design of the Year Award, Top Gear Car of the Year, Fast Company's Innovation By Design Award, and was named one of Time magazine's 50 Best Inventions of 2011. Fisker was named one of the 10 Most Interesting People of 2015 by The Drive. Goliath.com named him one of the 10 greatest car designers in automotive history, writing that he has created "some of the modern masterpieces in the automobile industry."
Early life and education
Fisker was born in Allerød, Denmark. As a young boy he became interested in cars after seeing a Maserati Bora on the highway, and soon started sketching designs in notebooks. He graduated with a degree in transportation design from the Art Center College of Design in Vevey, Switzerland, in 1989.
In 1989, Fisker began working at BMW Technik, the company's advanced design studio in Munich. His first project there was the E1 electric concept car. From 1992 to 1997, he refined the Z07 concept car, which would become the BMW Z8 roadster, produced from 1999 to 2003. The car combined design elements from the company's past with a modern look, paying homage to the iconic BMW 507 (produced from 1956 to 1959). Fisker envisioned it as a 507 that evolved like the Porsche 911 has over its six decade model run. In 2016, at a press conference celebrating BMW's 100th anniversary, BMW CEO Harald Krueger named the Z8 as one of his three favorite BMW models in the history of the company. Fisker also worked on the design of BMW's first SUV, the original X5, a mid-size luxury crossover introduced in 1999 and marketed by the company as a "sports activity vehicle".
From 1999 to 2001, Fisker was the president and chief executive officer of Designworks, a BMW industrial design studio headquartered in Newbury Park, California, with additional design studios in Munich and Shanghai.
Ford and Aston Martin (2001–05)
Fisker left BMW for the Ford Motor Company in 2001, where he served as design director at Aston Martin. He was in charge of the production design of the Aston Martin DB9 (in production from 2004 to 2016), bringing in elements from the history of Aston Martin cars. The DB9 was available as both a coupe and a convertible. Fisker also designed the Aston Martin V8 Vantage (in production from 2005 to the present), a two-door coupe considered to be the leanest and most agile of all Aston Martin cars. It was named the coolest car of the year and the best sounding car of the year by Top Gear in 2005. The Vantage is the best selling Aston Martin of all time. Fisker's designs for Aston Martin essentially spawned the company's next two decades of car designs.
From September 2001 to August 2003, Fisker was creative director of Ingeni, Ford's London-based design and creativity center. In August 2003, he became the director of Ford's Global Advanced Design Studio in Irvine, California, where the Ford Shelby GR-1 was designed. In 2005, Fisker left Aston Martin and the Ford Motor Company, a move that "shocked his colleagues."
Fisker Coachbuild (2005–07)
In 2005, Fisker teamed up with Bernhard Koehler, a colleague from his days at BMW and Aston Martin, to start a new luxury car custom design firm, Fisker Coachbuild, based in Orange County, California. Coach-built (or custom-built) one-of-a-kind cars were extremely rare after the 1950s, primarily due to the difficulty and costliness created by strict Federal safety and pollution rules. With Fisker Coachbuild, Fisker planned a modern version of coachbuilding, dealing in runs of 150 cars. The company's first car was the Fisker Tramonto, a roadster with a re-bodied Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG, with a longer hood line and slimmer rear. The company's second car was the Fisker Latigo CS, with a re-bodied BMW 645Ci coupe. Less than 15 of the vehicles were ever built.
In 2007, Tesla Motors hired Fisker to perform initial design work on the Tesla Model S electric sedan, which was introduced in 2012. That year, he also designed the body of the Artega GT two-door sports car, Artega Automobile's first model, which was produced between 2009 and 2012. It spawned the 2011 Artega SE, an electric sports car with an identical body.
Fisker Automotive (2007–13)
In August 2007, Fisker and Quantum Technologies teamed up to launch the luxury electric car startup Fisker Automotive in Anaheim, California. Fisker aimed to demonstrate that "electric cars can be beautiful and exciting and fun to drive." The first car to be produced by Fisker Automotive was the Fisker Karma, a luxury plug-in hybrid sports sedan that was unveiled in a preproduction version in January 2008 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. At the auto show the following year, Fisker Automotive displayed the production version of the Karma. Fisker noted that the Karma would be the only car able to drive 50 miles on electric-only, and then proceed to drive as a regular car. At the 2009 auto show, Fisker also unveiled the company's second model, the Karma Sunset, a two-door retractable-hardtop convertible based on the regular Karma. It was designed as the world's first plug-in hybrid convertible, and Fisker Automotive's first roadster. The Fisker Surf, unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, was designed as a four-door plug-in hybrid hatchback, a roomier version of the Fisker Karma. Like the Karma, it was able to operate in an energy-saving mode. Neither the Sunset or Surf have been produced to date.
In 2008, Fisker raised over $90 million from investors including venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and actor Leonardo DiCaprio. In September 2009, Fisker Automotive was awarded a $528 million loan guarantee by the United States Department of Energy (DOE). The automaker was one of four recipients of the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, to encourage the domestic manufacture of electric cars. The funds were to be used to develop the Karma, as well as an affordable family-size plug-in hybrid car. The loan facility was frozen at $192 million in February 2012, after the DOE claimed that Fisker missed its milestones. According to the DOE, the government recouped a total of approximately $53 million ($28 million from the company plus $25 million from the sale of the loan to Hybrid Technology, months before assets of Fisker Automotive were sold to Wanxiang for $149.2 million). In total, Fisker Automotive raised $1.2 billion in public and private funds.
The Fisker Karma entered the market in October 2011, as the world's first luxury electric, extended-range vehicle. High-profile customers included DiCaprio, musician Justin Bieber, former US Secretary of State Colin Powell and former US Vice President Al Gore. The Karma differed from previous electric vehicles in that it was stylish, it had a gasoline engine in addition to the electric battery in case of battery failure or inability to find a charging station, and the gas was only used to generate electric power. In December 2011, just as the Fisker Karma was launched, its battery supplier, A123 Systems, recalled all batteries, followed by a second recall in 2012. A123 filed for bankruptcy in October 2012, leaving Fisker Automotive without a battery supplier. After selling approximately 2,000 units, production of the Fisker Karma was suspended in November 2012, in the absence of its battery supplier.
The 2012 Fisker Karma is a part of the permanent collection at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. In April 2012, Fisker Automotive unveiled a design prototype of its second extended-range electric car, the Fisker Atlantic (initially called Project Nina), a four-door sedan that was a smaller and more affordable version of the Karma. In terms of size and price range, it was comparable to the Audi A5 and the BMW 335i. After plans to produce the Surf and Sunset were set aside, the Atlantic was scheduled to become Fisker Automotive's second production car, but it was never manufactured.
Fisker resigned as chairman from Fisker Automotive in March 2013, because of disagreements with management about business strategy. Later that year, the company declared voluntary bankruptcy. Assets of Fisker Automotive were sold at a bankruptcy auction in 2014 to Chinese automotive parts firm Wanxiang for $149.2 million. In September 2015, Fisker Automotive was renamed Karma Automotive. The Fisker Karma was renamed the Karma Revero in 2016. Henrik Fisker and Fisker Inc are not affiliated with Karma Automotive or its parent company Waxiang.
HF Design (2013–present)
In 2013, Fisker formed HF Design & Technology, a Los Angeles-based design house. That year, HF Design entered into a partnership with Lauge Jensen Motorcycles (owned by Lego heir Anders Kirk Johansen) to design a high-volume motorcycle. The design was completed in 2014, with the tank, seat and rear fender in one flowing shape.
In November 2014, Fisker made his return to car manufacturing with the Galpin-Fisker Mustang Rocket, a coachbuilt custom-bodied Mustang, fitted with a 725-horsepower V8 engine. It has a top speed of 200 mph and goes from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. A collaboration between HF Design and Galpin Auto Sports (the largest Ford dealer in the US), the car debuted at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. In 2017, it was renamed the VLF Rocket V8, reflecting the fact that it would be manufactured by Fisker's company VLF Automotive.
Benetti Fisker 50 yacht
In 2015, Fisker's HF Design teamed with Benetti Yachts to create a series of superyachts named the Benetti Fisker 50, based on Fisker's exterior and interior designs. The exteriors will be optimized for ocean views from all major cabins, and the hull will be built of carbon fiber, using reclaimed wood and integrated solar panels. Onboard amenities will include a beach club, spa, bars, a pool and sunbathing areas on multiple decks. In April 2016, Fisker revealed a fuller view of the $37 million 50-meter (164-foot) superyacht designed in California and scheduled for production in Livorno, Italy. Construction is set to start in late 2016, with the Benetti Fisker 50 projected to enter the market by 2018, but is yet to be produced as of 2020.
Henrik Fisker Lifestyle (2016–present)
In 2016, Fisker launched a lifestyle brand named Henrik Fisker Lifestyle, a brand dedicated to creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. It includes a collection of T-shirts with reprints of car sketches made by Henrik Fisker including the BMW Z8, Aston Martin DB9, Aston Martin V8 Vantage, Fisker Karma, VLF Rocket, and the VLF Force 1 V10.
VLF Automotive (2016–2019)
In January 2016, Fisker formed VLF Automotive with manufacturer and former Boeing executive Gilbert Villarreal, and auto engineer and former General Motors executive Bob Lutz, to manufacture small-run handcrafted luxury cars. Based in Auburn Hills, Michigan, VLF is the successor to VL Automotive, which was launched in 2013 and led by Villarreal and Lutz. VLF unveiled the Force 1 V10 American supercar at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on 12 January 2016. Fisker collaborated with Tudor Championship racing driver Ben Keating on the car, a re-engineered Dodge Viper SRT chassis with a new Fisker-designed body. Production began at VLF's Auburn Hills manufacturing facility in August 2016, with approximately 50 of the hand-built two-seaters scheduled to be manufactured.
VLF also developed a new version of the Destino, an update of the car originally developed by VL Automotive in 2013. The VLF Destino V8, one of the world's fastest four-door sedans, is built with a Fisker Karma chassis and supercharged Corvette ZL1 V8 engine. It was delivered to customers, including guitarist Carlos Santana, starting in June 2016, with production planned for 100 per year.
Fisker designed the F1 V10 Roadster, which has an all carbon fiber exterior and comes with a 745-horsepower V10 engine. According to VLF, it can reach a top speed of 210 mph and go from 0 to 60 mph in under 3 seconds. It debuted at the Shanghai Auto Show in April 2017.
Fisker Inc. (2016–present)
In July 2016, Fisker expressed interest in designing a fully connected electric car with autonomous driving features and an aesthetically pleasing look. He has said he is close to breakthroughs in battery technology, and hinted at potentially reviving the Fisker name with a pure-electric vehicle using technology that nobody else has. Since then Fisker has talked about delays to the promised solid state battery technology, which he does not expect to be able to be produced in volume until at least 2025. Posing risk for competition from more scientifically experienced future solid state battery produces such as Quantumscape.
On 3 October 2016, Henrik Fisker launched Fisker Inc., an American automaker designing and developing innovative all-electric vehicles with a longer range, lower cost of batteries, and futuristic designs. The company's first vehicle, named the Fisker EMotion, is a sporty, spacious, luxury all-electric sedan, a "spiritual successor" to the Fisker Karma electric car, with double butterfly doors and graphene supercapacitors. Fisker Inc's long-range electric vehicles are targeting a minimum range of 400 miles per charge, which would be a far longer range than any electric vehicle to date. However, this date has been pushed back until at least 2024 for production of the EMotion.  The car will be equipped with a solid-state battery being developed by Fisker Inc. (delayed until 2025).  The first photos of the EMotion were released on 6 June 2017, and the car was unveiled in January 2018 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
In September 2018, Fisker announced the development of Fisker Inc.'s mass-market all-electric SUV.. This planned production of the Ocean is a change of plans from originally producing the EMotion first, now the Ocean replacing the EMotions planned production time, where Fisker cites the reason as consumer interest in the SUV market, and the EMotion design not being ready (As of September 2020) . The Fisker Ocean will have a nearly 300-mile range with an 80 kWh battery and a solar panel roof as a range extender, adding approximately 1,000 free miles of range per year. Advanced electronics will be housed under the hood, and the vehicle will incorporate recycled and sustainable materials throughout. Deliveries of the Ocean are scheduled to begin in 2022. Reservations for the Fisker Ocean will be available on the Fisker Flexee smartphone app through a flexible lease program, without any long-term contracts, for a $379 per month lease payment, with a $2,999 down payment and $250 reservation fee. The Fisker lease program allows customers to return the vehicle at any time, includes maintenance and service, and comes with 30,000 miles per year. The vehicle can also be purchased from the base price of $37,499 (or $29,999 after the US tax credit). Fisker Inc. unveiled a full prototype of the Fisker Ocean at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2020. The vehicle was named to Best of CES 2020 lists by publications including Newsweek (calling it "the greenest SUV ever"), Time, CNET, Digital Trends, Business Insider, PC Magazine, and Mashable. Fisker has also announced a partnership with Electrify America to ensure Fisker Ocean vehicles will integrate seamlessly with Electrify America charging stations when the e-SUV hits the market. With features such as a solar roof and recycled inner materials, it will be, according to Fisker Inc., the "world's most sustainable vehicle." It is intended to compete with the upcoming Tesla Model Y. More details on the Fisker Ocean will be revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2020.
Fisker is working with Hakim Unique Group of China to create the Fisker Orbit, an autonomous, connected, electric commuter shuttle designed for smart cities, which will hold 8–12 people. It was announced in 2017, and the first test vehicle is projected to be running at a corporate campus in the US in 2019. Fisker stated in 2018 that, with the growth of car-sharing, ride-hailing, and autonomous shuttles, he believes within 10 years private cars will be used for less than half of what they are currently used for.
In 2017, Fisker Inc. announced that it had filed patents on flexible solid-state battery designs. Fisker expects the batteries to be produced on a mass scale around 2020. A prototype of the battery debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2018. In October 2018, Fisker announced new funding for battery development through Caterpillar Venture Capital. The solid-state batteries are intended to deliver longer vehicle range and faster charging times.
In September 2019, it was announced that Fisker Inc. was partnering with Game of Thrones actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who will serve as a partner and sustainability adviser to Fisker, to work on advanced, affordable, electric mobility models.
On July 8, 2020, Fisker announced the completion of a $50 million Series C financing round funded by Moore Strategic Ventures, the private investment arm of Louis Bacon, with the proceeds to go toward engineering work on the Fisker Ocean all-electric luxury SUV. On July 13, 2020, Fisker announced that Fisker Inc. would offer an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange through a merger with special purpose acquisition company Spartan Energy Acquisition Corp., which is backed by private equity firm Apollo Global Management. The deal, expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2020, values Fisker Inc at US$2.9 billion, with an IPO share price of $10.
On July 27, 2020, Fisker announced it was in advanced discussions with Extreme E, an all-electric off-road motor racing series, on a partnership, and potentially entering a works team in Extreme E's inaugural five-race 2021 season.
On July 30, 2020, Fisker announced plans for a four-vehicle portfolio by 2025. The Fisker Ocean SUV will be joined by a sports sedan based on their previously announced Fisker Emotion concept, a coupe-like SUV, and a lifestyle pickup truck. All will be electric vehicles.
Fisker describes his aesthetic as innovative and timeless. His designs are long and muscular, drawing inspiration from the human body as well as classic cars from the past. He is inspired by Italian car designs, as well as the American designs, in particular the luxury and muscle cars of the 1950s, '60s and '70s. He is highly concerned with proportion, designing his cars with flowing lines, short overhangs, and an assertive stance.
In popular culture
In the 2013 drama film Paranoia, a communications titan (played by Harrison Ford) gives his young associate (played by Liam Hemsworth) the keys to a brand new Fisker Karma as a symbol that he has "made it" in the corporate world.
Tesla Motors v. Fisker Coachbuild (2008)
An arbitrator ruled in favor of Fisker Coachbuild. On 14 April 2008, Tesla Motors filed a lawsuit against Fisker Coachbuild, Fisker and Koehler, contending that they had fraudulently agreed to a design contract in 2007 only to gain access to confidential information, before announcing a competing vehicle, the Fisker Karma. Both the Tesla and Fisker vehicles in question were designed as serial hybrid cars, with a gas engine powering a generator that charges a battery to power the electric motor, and both were initially planned for delivery in 2010. The lawsuit sought to prevent Fisker from using Tesla design documents, along with a return of the money from the Tesla contract, plus punitive damages. Fisker filed for arbitration in May 2008. An arbitrator ruled in their favor in November 2008, finding "overwhelming" evidence showing that Fisker did not do anything wrong. Subsequently, Tesla was ordered to pay $1.14 million in legal fees and costs to Fisker.
Fisker Automotive congressional hearing (2013)
Following his resignation from Fisker Automotive in March 2013, Fisker voluntarily testified on 24 April 2013, at a congressional hearing led by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the Department of Energy's $192 million disbursement to Fisker Automotive through the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program. Fisker Automotive had failed earlier that week to meet the deadline for repayment on the loan, which was originally approved as a $529 million loan guarantee.
Fisker v. Aston Martin (2015–16)
On 4 January 2016, Fisker filed a suit against two Aston Martin corporations and three executives for $100 million in damages for civil extortion, claiming that his former employer was trying to prevent him from unveiling his new luxury sports car hybrid, the VLF Force 1 V10, at the 2016 North American International Auto Show. The complaint claimed that after Fisker released a single pen-on-paper sketch of the Force 1 in December 2015, he received a letter from Aston Martin claiming the design was too similar to their DB10 and demanding that he either change the design or not display the car at the auto show. Aston Martin had previously sued Fisker in 2015 over his car design for the Thunderbolt. That case was settled after Fisker agreed not to move forward with the vehicle. Following the January 2016 auto show debut of the Force 1, it was clear that the vehicle was not similar to the DB10. Aston Martin subsequently stopped threatening to interfere with the development of the Force 1, and the matter was resolved in April 2016.
Honors and awards
- Time magazine Green Design 100, Fisker Karma, 2009
- Spark Design and Architecture Award, Fisker Karma, 2009
- American Business Awards Stevie Award, Most Innovative Company, Fisker Automotive, 2010
- First Prize, International Design Awards, Product of the Year, Fisker Karma, 2011
- Silver Edison Award, Fisker Karma, 2011
- Time magazine 50 Best Inventions of 2011, Fisker Karma
- Automobile magazine Design of the Year Award, 2011
- Global Green Sustainable Corporate Design Award, 2011
- Top Gear Magazine Luxury Car of the Year, Fisker Karma, 2012
- Top Gear (BBC) Car of the Year, Fisker Karma, 2012
- Fast Company Innovation By Design Award, Transportation category, Fisker Karma, 2012
- Auto Bild magazine Golden Steering Wheel Award for Classic Car of the Future, Fisker Karma, 2012
- Motor Trend Top 10 Future Classics, Fisker Karma, 2012
- Auto, Motor und Sport magazine Environmental Car of the Year, 2012
- The Drive 100: The 10 Most Interesting People of 2015
- Goliath.com 10 Greatest Car Designers in Automotive History, 2016
- Best of CES, Fisker Ocean (on multiple lists including Time, Newsweek, Business Insider, Digital Trends), 2020
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Henrik Fisker.|
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