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Q&A: Fisker Automotive’s Henrik Fisker

Can a small start-up rewrite the rules of the auto business?

by on Nov.03, 2009

Danish-born designer Henrik Fisker believes his eponymously-named start-up, Fisker Automotive, can revolutionize the auto business.

Danish-born designer Henrik Fisker believes his eponymously-named start-up, Fisker Automotive, can revolutionize the auto business.

He’s best known as a designer, the pen behind gracefully muscular concept and production vehicles like the BMW Z8 roadster and the Aston Martin DB9 sports car.  But Danish designer Henrik Fisker could eventually wind up better known for a small, eponymously-named California start-up company with some very big plans.

In an unexpected move, Fisker left Ford’s then parent company, Ford Motor Co., in 2005, to set up his own firm in Southern California.  Initially, he and his partners planned to revive the lost art of custom coach building, taking platforms from luxury makers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz and retrofitting them with limited edition bodies and interiors.  But a couple years later, the designer shifted gears again.

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Next June, Fisker Automotive will deliver the first of an all-new series of vehicles dubbed Karma, using plug-in hybrid powertrain technology.  Plug-ins go a step beyond conventional hybrids, like the Toyota Prius, with oversized battery packs permitting a motorist to commute or run errands largely on electric power alone.  But Fisker insists that’s just the beginning.  Late last month, he announced plans to use a $528 million federal loan to purchase an abandoned General Motors plant, in Wilmington, Delaware, to produce a second line of plug-ins which the company expects to export around the world.

Can a Danish sports car designer challenge the big names in the auto industry?  TheDetroitBureau.com Publisher Paul A. Eisenstein spoke to Henrik Fisker about his company, his plans and his challenges.

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