“Shoot for the moon and if you miss, you will still be among the stars.” – Les Brown
At the time of this writing, California-based Fisker Automotive is in bad shape and if they don’t get a miracle, they are going to go under.
In case you haven’t been following the Fisker saga, let me fill you in. Fisker Automotive was founded in 2007 by Henrik Fisker, a Danish-born designer who also penned the Aston Martin DB9, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, and the BMW Z8. The new company was to launch a luxury plug-in hybrid car in 2009. After multiple setbacks and delays, customers finally began taking deliveries of the Karma sedan in late 2011.
In March of 2013, Fisker Automotive laid off 75% of its workforce. The founder and CEO, Henrik Fisker, resigned from the company citing “disagreements over business strategy” with the board of directors. In April, Fisker Automotive missed the first payment on their $193 million loan to the US Department of Energy. The company then hired a legal team to assist with bankruptcy proceedings. There were rumors of a buyout by another company, but those rumors have not borne any fruit.
Let’s be honest, a lot of folks saw this one coming. It’s the same story that has been played out many times before. A former car designer/businessman decides to launch a brand new car company that will take on Detroit. The charismatic leader creates a beautifully styled and technologically advanced car, and then runs out of money after building a few thousand of them.
It happened to Alejandro DeTomaso, Malcolm Bricklin, John Z. DeLorean, and Preston Tucker. Now, it looks as though Henrik Fisker’s name will soon be added to the list of short-lived automotive companies that produced a small number of incredibly ambitious cars. This is a shame, because I really wanted Fisker to make it.
The car is driven by two electric motors, one at each of the rear wheels. At 479 ft-lbs of torque each, they make a staggering 959 ft-lbs of torque combined! Each motor makes about 201 horsepower, so the total power to the drive wheels is 402 HP. The large, rectangular battery pack is in the center of the car and has a 20.1 kilowatt-hour capacity.
At the front of the car is a 2.0L turbocharged and direct injected 4-cylinder engine from General Motors. This engine does not propel the car, it merely serves as a generator which recharges the battery pack – much like the Chevrolet Volt. This onboard generator is what gives the car its name – EVer stands for “electric vehicle, extended range.”
The car has a range of about 33 miles in pure electric mode, and when the generator kicks in you can keep going for up to 240 miles. The Karma has an on-board charger that supports 120v and 240v connections. Recharge time is about 6 hours at 240v.
The Karma is made for environmentally-conscious drivers, and Fisker is a company that understands their customers. That’s why the Karma has some unique options you won’t see on other cars. Every car has a solar roof to keep the battery topped off. The EcoChic model has wood on the dashboard which is reclaimed from California wildfires and a completely animal-free interior. This particular car has a unique paint option which contains microscopic bits of ground-up glass so that it sparkles in the sunlight unlike anything you’ve ever seen before!
Of course, the Karma is also a luxury car. It’s got a 10-inch screen in the dash, an 8-speaker, 295-watt stereo with a subwoofer, Bluetooth connectivity, and 8 airbags for safety. This particular car costs $116,600 as shown.
Now, I’m not exactly a tree-hugging hippie, and you don’t have to be to appreciate the Karma’s gorgeous design. It starts with those massive 22-inch wheels, which may be among the largest OEM wheels ever put on a production car. The Karma turns heads like a pop superstar rolling down the street. I had never known that metal panels could be formed and shaped so elegantly and so seductively.
Fisker Automotive, like each of its predecessors, had that entrepreneurial spirit. Each company decided to take on the established titans of the auto industry, eager to show them that they could do it better. They overcame obstacles of design, manufacturing, setting up suppliers, and getting regulatory approvals. In a lot of cases, they created cars that were far ahead of their time. And in every case, these companies ran out of cash, just like Fisker.
Will the Fisker Karma go down in history as another beautiful failure, or will it be rescued at the zero hour by an angel investor? And even if the money appears, does the company have the direction to keep it going without its founder at the helm?