Henrik Fisker

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Henrik Fisker
Henrik Fisker 2016.jpg
Fisker in 2016
Born (1963-08-10) 10 August 1963 (age 53)
Allerød, Denmark
Residence Los Angeles, CA, United States
Nationality Danish
Alma mater Art Center College of Design
Occupation President & CEO,
Designworks (1999-01)
Design director,
Aston Martin (2001-05)
Founder & CEO,
Fisker Coachbuild (2005-07)
Founder, chairman & CEO,
Fisker Automotive (2007-13)
Founder & CEO,
HF Design (2013-present)
Founder & design chief,
VLF Automotive (2016-present)
Years active 1989–present
Known for BMW Z8
BMW X5
Aston Martin DB9
Aston Martin V8 Vantage
Fisker Tramonto
Fisker Latigo CS
Artega GT
Fisker Karma
Fisker Sunset
Fisker Surf
Fisker Atlantic
Galpin-Fisker Mustang Rocket
VLF Force 1 V10
VLF Destino V8
Viking motorcycle
Benetti Fisker 50 superyacht
Spouse(s) Patricia Fisker (m. 1989–2011)
Geeta Fisker (m. 2012)
Children 2
Website henrikfisker.org

Henrik Fisker (born 10 August 1963) is a Danish-born automotive designer and entrepreneur residing in Los Angeles, California. He is best known for designing iconic luxury cars including the BMW Z8, Aston Martin DB9, Aston Martin V8 Vantage, Fisker Karma, Galpin-Fisker Mustang Rocket, VLF Force 1 V10 and the VLF Destino V8. He also designed the Viking motorcycle and Benetti Fisker 50 superyacht. He is the founder of HF Design & Technology, co-founder of VLF Automotive, founder and former CEO of Fisker Coachbuild, and founder of Fisker Automotive, where he served as chairman and CEO until March 2013.

His 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,[1] Silver Edison Award,[1] Automobile magazine's Design of the Year Award,[1] Top Gear Car of the Year,[2] Fast Company's Innovation By Design Award,[3] and was named one of Time magazine's 50 Best Inventions of 2011.[4] Fisker was named one of the 10 Most Interesting People of 2015 by The Drive.[5] 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."[6]

Early life and education[edit]

Fisker was born in Allerød, Denmark.[7][8] As a young boy, after seeing a Maserati Bora on the highway, he became interested in cars and soon started sketching designs in notebooks.[9] He graduated with a degree in transportation design from the Art Center College of Design in Vevey, Switzerland, in 1989.[7][9][10]

Career[edit]

BMW (1989-2001)[edit]

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.[11] From 1992 to 1997, he designed the Z07 concept car, which would become the BMW Z8 roadster, produced from 1999 to 2003. With a somewhat retro look, the car combined designs from the company's past with a modern look, and did not resemble anything BMW was making at the time. Fisker envisioned it as a BMW 507 (produced from 1956 to 1959) if it had evolved like the Porsche 911. 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.[7][10] Fisker also worked on the design of the first BMW X5, a mid-size luxury sport utility vehicle that has been in production since 1999.[12] BMW's first SUV, it was marketed as a sports activity vehicle.[13]

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.[14]

Ford and Aston Martin (2001-05)[edit]

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.[7][11][15] 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.[15] Fisker's designs for Aston Martin essentially spawned the company's next two decades of car designs.[16]

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.[7]

In 2005, Fisker left Aston Martin and the Ford Motor Company, a move that "shocked his colleagues."[17]

Fisker Coachbuild (2005-07)[edit]

Main article: Fisker Coachbuild

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.[7] 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.[17] 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.[7]

In 2007, Tesla Motors hired Fisker to perform initial design work on the Tesla Model S electric sedan,[18] which was introduced in 2012.[19] 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.[20]

Fisker Automotive (2007-13)[edit]

Main article: Fisker Automotive

In August 2007, Fisker and Quantum Technologies teamed up to launch the luxury electric car startup Fisker Automotive in Anaheim, California.[7][21] Fisker aimed to demonstrate that "electric cars can be beautiful and exciting and fun to drive."[22] 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.[23] 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.[24] 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.[25] It was designed as the world's first plug-in hybrid convertible, and Fisker Automotive's first roadster.[26] 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.[27] 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.[24][28] In September 2009, Fisker Automotive was awarded a $528 million loan guarantee by the United States Department of Energy (DOE).[29] 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.[30] The loan facility was frozen at $192 million in February 2012, after the DOE claimed that Fisker missed its milestones.[28] 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).[31] In total, Fisker Automotive raised $1.2 billion in public and private funds.[21]

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.[32] 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.[23][33][34][35]

The 2012 Fisker Karma is a part of the permanent collection at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.[36] 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.[37] In terms of size and price range, it was comparable to the Audi A5 and the BMW 335i.[38] 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.[28]

Fisker resigned as chairman from Fisker Automotive in March 2013, because of disagreements with management about business strategy.[23][39][40] Later that year, the company declared voluntary bankruptcy.[41] Assets of Fisker Automotive were sold at a bankruptcy auction in 2014 to Chinese automotive parts firm Wanxiang for $149.2 million.[21] In September 2015, Fisker Automotive was renamed Karma Automotive.[42] The Fisker Karma was renamed the Karma Revero in 2016.[33]

HF Design (2013-present)[edit]

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.[43] The design was completed in 2014, with the tank, seat and rear fender in one flowing shape.[44][45]

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. 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.[46][47][48]

Benetti Fisker 50 yacht[edit]

Main article: Benetti Fisker 50

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.[49] 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.[50] Construction is set to start in late 2016,[50] with the Benetti Fisker 50 projected to enter the market by 2018.[51]

VLF Automotive (2016-present)[edit]

Main article: VLF Automotive

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.[52] Based in Auburn Hills, Michigan, VLF is the successor to VL Automotive, which was launched in 2013 and led by Villarreal and Lutz.[42] VLF unveiled the Force 1 V10 American supercar at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on January 12, 2016.[53][54] 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.[55] 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.[52][53][56]

VLF also developed a new version of the Destino, an update of the car originally developed by VL Automotive in 2013.[52] 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.[56][57]

Future work[edit]

In July 2016, Fisker expressed interest in designing a fully connected electric car with autonomous driving features and an aesthetically pleasing look. He said it would not look like a traditional car, but would take advantage of the interior design possibilities of a self-driving vehicle and be "a completely new car, with new proportions and a different design."[51] He has said he is close to breakthroughs in battery technology, and has hinted at potentially reviving the Fisker name with a pure-electric vehicle using technology that nobody else has.[56]

In August 2016, Fisker stated that he is in the early stages of producing a television show about making cars.[56]

Design philosophy[edit]

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.[7]

In popular culture[edit]

The Fisker-designed BMW Z8 was featured as the official car in the 1999 James Bond film The World Is Not Enough.[14]

The Fisker Karma was featured on Two and a Half Men starting in season 9 in 2011, as the car driven by Internet mogul Walden Schmidt, played by Ashton Kutcher.[58]

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.[59]

Controversies[edit]

Tesla Motors v. Fisker Coachbuild (2008)[edit]

On April 14, 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.[60] 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.[18][61] Subsequently, Tesla was ordered to pay $1.14 million in legal fees and costs to Fisker.[62]

Fisker Automotive congressional hearing (2013)[edit]

Following his resignation from Fisker Automotive in March 2013, Fisker voluntarily testified on April 24, 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.[63] 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.[34][64]

Fisker v. Aston Martin (2015-16)[edit]

On January 4, 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 Force 1 V10, at the 2016 North American International Auto Show. The complaint claims 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.[40] 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.[53][54][65]

Honors and awards[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Double Recognition for Fisker," conceptcarz.com, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Brit Liggett, "Fisker Karma Named Top Car of the Year by BBC's Top Gear," Inhabitat, December 1, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Mark Wilson, "The 11 Winners Of Our 2012 Innovation By Design Awards," Fast Company, October 2, 2012.
  4. ^ a b "The 50 Best Inventions – The Fun Electric Car". Time. 28 November 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-24.  See page 76 of the 28 November print edition.
  5. ^ a b Jonathan Schultz, "The Drive 100: The Most Interesting People of 2015," The Drive, December 14, 2015.
  6. ^ a b "The 10 Greatest Car Designers in Automotive History," Goliath.com, March 3, 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Chuck Squatriglia, "Henrik Fisker's 'Timeless' Automotive Designs," Wired, July 2, 2010.
  8. ^ Scott Kraft, "Henrik Fisker: Moving, rapidly, into the future," Los Angeles Times, December 12, 2009.
  9. ^ a b Joann Muller, "The Next Detroit," Forbes, May 21, 2009.
  10. ^ a b "BMW still has love for Fisker's design," Automotive News, March 21, 2016.
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  16. ^ "Snake Bit," Mopar Collector's Guide, January 2016, pp. 81-84.
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  18. ^ a b Claire Cain Miller, "Tesla Promised Another $40 Million, Loses Lawsuit," New York Times, November 3, 2008.
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  20. ^ Quick, Darren. Artega SE joins growing list of all-electric sportscars GizMag, 22 March 2011. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
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  34. ^ a b Brad Plumer, "What Fisker's failure tells us about Obama's clean-energy programs," Washington Post, April 24, 2013.
  35. ^ Aaron Smith and Emily Fox, "Car battery maker A123 files for bankruptcy," CNN, October 16, 2012.
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  38. ^ Fisker Atlantic New York Reveal Event (Press release). New York City: Fisker Automotive. 4 April 2012. 
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  55. ^ Miles Branman, "How the Force 1 Went From Fantasy to Carbon-Fiber Reality in Record Time," Digital Trends, April 6, 2016.
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  57. ^ Henry Payne, "Lutz's delicious Destino delivered," Detroit News, June 6, 2016.
  58. ^ "The Fisker Karma: What Walden Schmidt drives," CBS News, March 2, 2012.
  59. ^ Bryan Alexander, "Fisker turns up in new Harrison Ford movie 'Paranoia'," USA Today, October 15, 2012.
  60. ^ John Markoff, "Tesla Motors Files Suit Against Competitor Over Design Ideas," New York Times, April 15, 2008.
  61. ^ Martin LaMonica, "Tesla Motors loses trade secrets case against Fisker," CNet, November 4, 2008.
  62. ^ John O’Dell, "Tesla Ordered To Pay Fisker $1.14 Million After Losing Trade Secrets Case," Edmunds.com, December 4, 2008.
  63. ^ "Testimony of Henrik Fisker," oversight.house.gov, April 24, 2013.
  64. ^ Meg Handley, "House Republicans Slam Government 'Bet' on Fisker Automotive," U.S. News & World Report, April 25, 2013.
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  67. ^ Alina Dumitrache, "Fisker Karma Wins 2009 Spark Design and Architecture Award," Auto Evolution, November 24, 2009.
  68. ^ Sam Abuelsamid, "Fisker Automotive gets Stevie award as most innovative company," autoblog.com, June 25, 2010.
  69. ^ Brit Liggett, "Inhabitat Interviews Henrik FIsker, Founder of Fisker Automotive and Designer of the Karma," Inhabitat, July 16, 2011.
  70. ^ a b David Herron, "Fisker Karma shows its not a loser by winning four more prestigious design awards," Torque News, October 17, 2012.
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External links[edit]