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Former Chrysler Chief LaSorda Now Fisker CEO

“They didn’t have to twist my arm.”

by on Feb.28, 2012

Former Chrysler Chief LaSorda will now serve as CEO at Fisker Automotive.

Former Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda is back in the saddle, albeit one with a relatively silent source of power, as the new chief executive of battery-car start-up Fisker Automotive.

LaSorda, who had been serving as advisor and vice chairman of the California-based company will step into day-to-day management replacing founder Henrik Fisker as CEO.  The Danish-born Fisker will continue to serve as executive chairman and as the company’s design chief.

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The 57-year-old LaSorda will have plenty of challenges ahead of him.  Fisker Automotive is months behind with the launch of its first product, the plug-in Karma sports car, and it is struggling to renegotiate $528 million in federal loans needed to complete the development and production launch of the maker’s next product, a more mainstream plug-in model codenamed Project Nina.

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Fisker Facing Investor Lawsuit

Could complicate bid to raise cash.

by on Feb.21, 2012

Fisker founder Henrik Fisker with the Karma.

With the fate of its $528 million Department of Energy loan in limbo, Fisker Automotive has been rushing to sign up new investors, reportedly already lining up $260 million during recent months. But the California start-up could be facing new problems in the form of a lawsuit by an investor accusing it of bait-and-switch tactics.

Though it’s unlikely the suit itself could bring a major new financial burden on Fisker, several observers cautioned it could create another management diversion and throw up a red flag that might scare off other potential investors.

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The timing, meanwhile, couldn’t be worse.  Fisker is finally getting to market with the much-delayed Karma plug-in hybrid sports car, but it needs additional funding to ensure that the company’s more mainstream second project, codenamed Project Nina, gets into production in 2013 – also about a year behind schedule.

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With DoE Loan in Jeopardy, Fisker Preps “Plan B”

Start-up maker “confident” it can survive, thrive without government help.

by on Feb.14, 2012

 

 

Henrik Fisker with one of the first Karma plug-in hybrids.

TheDetroitBureau.com will offer the first full review of the new Fisker Karma on Wednesday. Make sure to come back.

Though California battery-car start-up Fisker Automotive continues to struggle to come up with a plan that will satisfy the Department of Energy and help it regain access to a promised, low-interest $528 million loan, Fisker’s founder said he is “confident” the company can move ahead even if it means tapping into the private equity market.

Earlier this month, Fisker revealed it would idle more than 65 workers at its suburban Los Angeles headquarters and Delaware assembly plant due to delays in the negotiations with the DoE.  But the maker countered reports that said it was halting production of its first plug-in hybrid model, the Fisker Karma.

 

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If anything, production is now ramping up, said the maker’s founder, Henrik Fisker, during a series of conversations that accompanied the first full media drive of the 4-seat Karma sports car. But while the Karma was designed to get Fisker  Automotive noticed, the bigger challenge will be to bring the maker’s next product, codenamed Project Nina, to market. And that is going to require significant infusions of cash, he cautioned.

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Fisker Recall Triggered by Potential Battery Fire

Impacts entire initial run of plug-in hybrids now on the road.

by on Dec.30, 2011

The Fisker Karma is recalled due to a potential battery fire problem.

In a potentially embarrassing turn of events, the California-based battery-car start-up Fisker Automotive will recall all of the cars it has sold so far due to a potential defect that could cause the $102,000 Fisker Karma plug-in hybrids to catch fire.

The problem is only remotely similar to the issue believed to have caused several fires involving Chevrolet Volt plug-ins after they were tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  An improperly installed hose clamp, Fisker said, can result in the leak of coolant that could, in turn, short out the Karma’s lithium-ion battery pack.

“If coolant enters the battery compartment, an electric short could occur,” a notice on the NHTSA website says, “possibly resulting in a fire.”

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As a result of the defect Fisker will recall 232 of the plug-in hybrid sports cars to repair the clamp.  But less than 50 are actually in the hands of owners following a slower-than-expected launch of the Karma – which is assembled at a plant in Finland then shipped to the United States.  Spokesman Roger Ormischer indicated there have been no reports of any problems with the vehicles that have already been sold.

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Fisker Karma Misses Mileage, Battery Range Goals

Luxury plug-in hybrid falls way of claims, says EPA.

by on Oct.20, 2011

The Fisker Karma is fast and sexy - but it doesn't deliver the range or fuel economy initially promised.

It’s hard to argue about its stylish design, but when it comes to range and fuel economy claims the new Fisker Karma falls well short, according to the EPA.

Developed by former Aston Martin designer Henrik Fisker, the Karma is the first in a planned series of offering from California start-up Fisker Motors.  The goal was to develop a striking, high-performance sports car that also could lay claims to being a green machine.

But the official numbers from the EPA don’t quite support that.  Balancing the car’s electric and gasoline performance in a series of simulations the feds came up with a 52 MPGe rating.  And while that’s on a par with what one might expect from the decidedly slower and less stylish Toyota Prius, it’s well short of the maker’s promised 67.2 MPGe, or miles-per-gallon equivalent.

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Range, meanwhile, came in at just 32 miles on battery power alone compared to Fisker’s anticipated 50 miles per charge.

And since that means the vehicle will likely be driven a lot more often on gasoline power alone the EPA’s other figure might be equally disappointing, with the car rated at just 20 miles per gallon in the combined cycle.

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Fisker Begins Hiring for Project Nina

Workers will prepare plant for 2012 production for as-yet unseen mid-size sedan.

by on Jun.23, 2011

Fisker Automotive founder Henrik Fisker with his plug-in hybrid, the $87,900 Karma.

HELP WANTED: Fisker Automotive is hiring about 120 employees for its Wilmington, Del., plant where it will build Project Nina.

Some of those hires, mostly electro-mechanical technicians and early teams of production workers, will be hired this summer.

Fisker’s second line of vehicles, which is code-named Project Nina, is expected to go into production at the end of 2012, with sales starting 2013.

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The company said it has already gone through a significant expansion at its Anaheim, Calif., headquarters were the staff quadrupled from 50 workers to 300 between January 2010 and January 2011.

The workers in Wilmington will install new equipment and begin testing the manufacturing process as the company works on in-house vehicle production for the first time. Valmet Automotive in Finland is building Fisker’s first car, the Karma luxury four-door.

Click here to read TheDetroitBureau.com’s special report on Fisker’s plans.

“This is an exciting time for Fisker. As we bring the Fisker Karma sedan to market and start delivering to customers, we are simultaneously starting to employ a world-class American workforce to build world-class American electric vehicles with extended range in a re-commissioned American plant,” Fisker Chief Operating Officer, Bernhard Koehler.

Fisker’s cars use a gasoline-electric system, similar to the Chevrolet Volt’s system. Fisker calls its system “electric vehicles with extended range” or EVer.

Fisker also said that it has recycled 11.2 million pounds of iron, steel, aluminum and wood from the Wilmington plant. In addition, it is reusing materials, such as turning scrap wood from the Wilmington production line as flooring in its Anaheim facility.

Fisker has said little about Project Nina other than it will be a mid-size premium sedan that will use the EVer system. No pictures have been released.

Fisker Taking Its Plug-In Hybrids to China

Charged up over world’s largest car market.

by on Dec.15, 2010

Henrik Fisker with his plug-in hybrid, the $87,900 Karma, which is now going to debut in China.

Fisker Automotive has partnered with the China Grand Automotive Group, the number one passenger car trader in China, to have its vehicles distributed, marketed and serviced in the region.

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The maker’s interest in the world’s fastest-growing national automotive market comes as Chinese government leaders put pressure on the industry to adopt clean electric propulsion.  Fisker is planning to build a series of plug-in hybrids, starting with a high-performance sports car and then a family sedan.

Henrik Fisker CEO of the eponymous Fisker Automotive, said the rapid growth of Chinese auto sales, particularly within the luxury segment, combined with the country’s efforts to minimize carbon emissions, makes China an excellent market for, “a company that believes environmentally conscious cars can deliver passion, style and performance.”

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Fisker Supplier Gets $529 Million from Taxpayers

Some private capital was also required to qualify.

by on Apr.27, 2010

Henrik Fisker with his plug-in hybrid, the $87,900 Karma, set for a debut later this year.

Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide Inc., supplier of the hybrid-drive system for the Fisker plug-in hybrid has closed on a Department of Energy loan for $528.7 million.

The DOE loan to Fisker will be used for the development and production of two models of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, including the Karma, a four-door sports sedan, and a line of family-oriented models being developed under Fisker’s Project Nina program, Quantum officials said.

The DOE loan, first announced last fall, was contingent on the ability of Quantum and Fisker to raise additional capital from private investors.

Fisker’s plans call for the Nina project to reach a broader audience than the premium car the company is launching later this year. When full production of the mid-sized vehicle is reached in 2015 at the company’s assembly plant in Delaware, Fisker estimates sales could reach 115,000 vehicles annually, a volume that seems wildly optimistic for a car that has yet to appear.

The DOE also approved a more than a half billion for Tesla, which is preparing for an initial public offering of stock.

Fisker Relocating Michigan Operations to California

Maker to close R&D center in suburban Detroit.

by on Feb.04, 2010

Henrik Fisker with his plug-in hybrid, the $87,900 Karma, which is set for a debut later this year.

Start-up plug-in hybrid manufacturer Fisker Automotive will close its suburban Detroit development center and consolidate design, engineering and other operations at the company’s Southern California headquarters, TheDetroitBureau.com has learned.

The move will make it easier for the company to move forward by having all key corporate operations collocated under one roof, Fisker contends, but it does come as a small but measurable setback for Michigan, which has been struggling to hang onto its automotive job base.

Less than 30 Fisker staff jobs will be impacted by the move, said a company official, and all are being offered the opportunity to relocate to Irvine, the Los Angeles suburb where Fisker is based.  A separate source said it is not clear how many employees will accept the transfer, despite the bleak job situation in Detroit.

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Fisker’s Michigan facility, in the suburb of Pontiac, had been set up to allow company designers and engineers to work alongside counterparts from the various suppliers helping develop the automaker’s new products.  The first of those models, the plug-in luxury sports car, the Fisker Karma, will go into production within the next year.

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Fisker May Take Over Delaware GM Plant

Facility would be used for next-generation plug-in hybrid.

by on Oct.26, 2009

The Fisker Karma, shown here, will be produced in Finland, but the company's next plug-in hybrid is likely to be built in Delaware, at a former GM plant.

The Fisker Karma will be produced in Finland, but the company's next plug-in hybrid is likely to be built in Delaware at a former GM plant.

A shuttered assembly plant that had been producing two General Motors roadsters could seen see new life producing next-generation plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles, or PHEVS, for the California-based start-up Fisker Automotive.

Vice President Joe Biden, a former Delaware Senator, is expected to make the formal announcement, on Tuesday, at the old Boxwood Road facility, in Wilmington.  The factory, which closed last summer, had been producing the Solstice for Pontiac, which is being closed down, and the Sky for Saturn, the brand which GM now will abandon after a failed attempt to sell it to automotive entrepreneur Roger Penske.

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According to sources, and a report by the Associated Press, the Boxwood plant would see new life as the production site for a second product line being developed by Fisker, which is based in Irvine, California, using a $528.7 million federal loan provided by the federal government under a program designed to encourage the production of high-mileage, low-emission automobiles.

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