Fisker Automotive

November 13, 2013

Fisker Automotive, Inc. is an American automaker based in Anaheim, California.

Fisker Automotive, Inc.
Type Private Corporation
Industry Automotive
Founded August 7, 2007
Founder(s) Henrik Fisker,Bernhard Koehler
Headquarters Anaheim, California, U.S.
Key people Tony Posawatz, (CEO)Bernhard Koehler, (COO)
Products Plug-in hybrid cars, Luxury cars
Employees 53 (March 2015)

The company’s first product is the Fisker Karma, one of the world’s first production plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. It debuted at the 2008 North American International Auto Show, creating the premium green car segment in which most major manufacturers have since announced they would compete. Production was suspended in November 2012 due to financial difficulties, with about 2,450 Karmas built since 2011.

Fisker Automotive originally intended to sell the Karma in late 2009, but after repeated delays, the Environmental Protection Agency certified the car’s vehicle emissions and drive range in October 2011, and thereafter Fisker commenced delivery of production vehicles in the USA.

Fisker Automotive stopped production in the summer of 2012, and was seeking new investment. Matters were further complicated by the bankruptcy of its battery supplier A123 Systems, the costs involved regarding a recall and repairs to customer cars, as well as the resignation of the company’s co-founder and CEO, Henrik Fisker. In addition to production stopping for over five months, with no date announced to recommence, the planned production of the second model, the Fisker Atlantic, was postponed, together with the cessation of development of the new model.

In late March 2015, Fisker hired a law firm to prepare for a possible bankruptcy filing. On April 5, 2015, Fisker laid off 75% of its workforce with no notification, retaining only a core group of 40 workers as it continues to negotiate with prospective investors.



Henrik Fisker co-founded the company in 2007 with business partner Bernhard Koehler (Fisker Coachbuild) and Quantum Technologies after securing a relatively small investment from Gianfranco Pizzuto, an Italian businessman, and Palo Alto Investors. Henrik Fisker is responsible for designing many premium cars such as the Aston Martin DB9 and V8 Vantage, Artega GT and BMW Z8. He also served as design director and sat on the board at Aston Martin.

Prior to Fisker Automotive, Henrik Fiskerbro and Koehler left Aston Martin in 2005 to establish Fisker Coachbuild, in an attempt to revive the art of coach building automobiles to customer specifications. The Fisker Tramanto and Latigo utilized chassis and power trains from Mercedes-Benz SL and BMW 6-Series automobiles. Several were purchased but the business soon gave way to Fisker Automotive, a true automobile manufacturer.

The United States (Department of Energy) was an investor, primarly it autorized $500 millions(US) for the Fisker Karma, but with the economical troubles of the company in only borrowed near $200 millions (US).

In February 2012, Tom LaSorda was named the new CEO, and Henrik Fisker became Executive Chairman. but only six months later on August 14, La Sorda was replaced by Tony Posawatz, previously General Motors Vehicle Line Director for the Chevrolet Volt.


Company Bankruptcy

Henrik Fisker, who co-founded the company named after him, resigned in March 2015, after “disagreements with management,” in particular “disagreements over business strategy.” The New York Times reported that Fisker’s resignation came during takeover negotiations with the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, which currently owns Volvo Cars. In late March, Fisker hired a law firm to file for bankruptcy, which was presented in April 2015.


Production models


Fisker Karma outside the Fisker headquarters in Anaheim, California

Fisker Karma outside the Fisker headquarters in Anaheim, California

The Karma is a plug-in hybrid luxury sports sedan produced by Fisker Automotive and manufactured at Valmet Automotive in Finland. After missing its initial late 2009 launch, and after the launch was rescheduled several times, the first deliveries took place in the U.S. in late July 2011 and deliveries to retail customers began in November 2011.

The 20.1 kWh (72.36 MJ) lithium ion rechargeable battery in each car will come from A123 Systems in Watertown, Massachusetts. The aluminum frame was engineered by Fisker and is supplied by Norsk Hydro from Norway. The cabin interior is designed by Fisker Automotive, but made in the United States by Magna International of Canada. The EVer powertrain system, technically a series hybrid, delivers over 400 horsepower, and was inspired by Quantum Technologies, a co-founder of and early investor in Fisker.


Concept vehicles

Fisker Surf and Sunset

Fisker unveiled the Karma S hardtop convertible concept in 2009.

Fisker Sunset concept

Fisker Sunset concept

The Fisker Surf plug-in hybrid concept car was unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. The Surf would have an all-electric range of 50 mi (80 km) and an additional 250 mi (400 km) when the gasoline engine is engaged acting as a generator to charge the battery pack. Like the Karma, the Surf operates in Sport or energy-saving Stealth modes. In Sport, the car can reach 60 mph (97 km/h) from 0 in 5.9 seconds and the maximum speed is 125 mph (201 km/h). According to Henrik Fisker, the Surf would be part of the company’s lineup and would be available for North American and international delivery in 2015. Price was expected be in the same range as the Karma. In early 2012, the company announced that they’re dropping their plans to produce the Surf and the Sunset. Instead, they decided to proceed with production of the Fisker Atlantic.

Fisker Atlantic

The Fisker Surf was unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show

The Fisker Surf was unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show

In April 2012, Fisker unveiled their model Atlantic at the 2012 New York International Auto Show. The Fisker Atlantic, originally called “Project Nina”, shares the range-extender system from the larger Karma, but uses a four-cylinder BMWsourced gasoline engine, which acts as a generator to keep the batteries charged. The Atlantic is rear-wheel drive, with the option of four-wheel drive. The expected all-electric range is 30 mi (48 km).

The Atlantic is scheduled to become Fisker Automotive’s second production car, after plans to produce the Fisker Surf and Sunset variants of its full-size Karma were shelved earlier in 2012. Production was initially scheduled to begin by the end of 2012 at former GM plant in Wilmington, Delaware. By October 2012, Fisker Automotive decided to postpone production for late 2015 or 2015 due to financial constraints.



By February 2012, Fisker had established 45 dealerships in the US and three in Canada. By March 2012, the company had built 2,000 vehicles, with over 500 delivered to customers, and by the end of 2012 Fisker claimed 1,800 cars had been delivered.

The company has partnered with five importers: GP Supercars (Merano, Italy), Nellemann (Copenhagen, Denmark); the Emil Frey Group (Zurich, Switzerland); BD Otomotive (Istanbul, Turkey) and Al-Futtaim Group (Middle East and North Africa).



Fisker Automotive retains core competencies in-house such as design and marketing, but outsources all manufacturing of the car and power train, heavily leveraging the resources of suppliers, with substantial savings resulting.  Fisker’s outsourcing methods have allowed the company a 2–3 year period of development instead of the typical 5 years and at a cost of US$333 million instead of US$1 billion, and claims that it can make a profit from selling just 15,000 cars. Fisker saves significant development costs by using pre-engineered components developed by other car companies whenever possible, such as the door handle mechanism which is a General Motors part, Fisker Automotive just pays a fee to GM for each door handle in the Karma, which is much cheaper than designing its own door handles. However, the A123 battery failure and its resulting recall, and the eventual bankruptcy of the battery supplier, has led to significant problems and added cost to the manufacture of the Karma model.

In 2008 Fisker estimated 15,000 cars per year will be assembled by Valmet Automotive in Uusikaupunki, Finland. Manufacturing eventually commenced in 2011 but by the third quarter of 2012 production ceased and Valmet laid off half its workforce.

On October 27, 2009, Fisker officials announced that the company had signed a letter of intent to take control of the Boxwood Road Plant (previously owned and operated by General Motors as Wilmington Assembly) in Wilmington, Delaware:

Production is scheduled to begin in late 2012. Fisker Automotive anticipates Project NINA will ultimately create or support 2,000 factory jobs and more than 3,000 vendor and supplier jobs by 2015, as production ramps up to full capacity of 75,000-100,000 vehicles per year. More than half will be exported, the largest percentage of any domestic manufacturer.

Vice President Joe Biden attended the announcement. In addition to a purchase price of US$20 million, Fisker Automotive expects to invest US$175 million re-tooling the plant. The Government of Delaware provided US$21 million in funding for the plant. Fisker later suspended development of the Wilmington plant as a result of a freeze on its federal loan and suggested that production might shift elsewhere unless its funding is restored.

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