More than three years after announcing plans to produce a high-performance plug-in hybrid, Danish designer-cum-entrepreneur Henrik Fisker is ready to put his money – and a half billion dollars of U.S. taxpayer cash – where his mouth is.
The sleek Fisker Karma coupe officially goes into production on March 21st, after several earlier delays. How it fares could reveal whether the automotive market is open to new players, like Fisker Automotive, ready to challenge the traditional industry order by focusing on environmentally-friendly powertrain technology.
These days, there are dozens of automotive wannabes hoping to cash in on the green movement. They’ve collectively raised billions from investors and entrepreneurs who believe this is the first real opening since the U.S. automotive ranks began to dwindle during the Great Depression. And some have been able to count on the help of the federal treasury, the Obama Administration approving billions of dollars in loans and grants intended to promote electric propulsion.
The situation “is similar to 100 years ago when we moved from the horse and buggy but the choice between steam, electric and gasoline wasn’t clear yet,” suggests Fisker, who first made a name for himself as a designer of high-performance sports cars like the Aston Martin DB9.