Electric-Car Maker Fisker Strikes Distribution Deal In China

By dancurranjr On December 18th, 2010

Fisker Automotive, a maker of high-end electric cars says it entered a partnership with China Grand Automotive Group, or CGA, a large dealership group, to have its vehicles distributed, marketed and serviced in China. The move is part of the company’s strategy to take advantage of China’s rapidly growing luxury-car market and its push to reduce emissions.

The Irvine, Calif., car maker says it formalized the non-exclusive agreement with executives from CGA during a ceremony near the Chinese company’s headquarters in Shanghai today. Fisker says CGA has a network of more than 200 retail stores that sell 40 auto brands including BMW, Lamborghini, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz. In 2010 the company’s sales totaled about $7.5 billion.

Henrik Fisker, CEO, Fisker Automotive, says the CGA agreement gives his company ”an instant and credible footprint in the region” and ensure that Fisker customers will get the kind of service they expect from a luxury brand.

Fisker’s first car, the Karma, will make its Chinese debut at the Shanghai Motor Show in April 2011. The company says the Karma represents responsible luxury and is the world’s first true electric vehicle with extended range. The car can travel 50 miles on battery power and 250 miles on hybrid-electric power. It uses a gasoline engine as a generator to run its electric motors, similar to the way diesel-electric railway locomotives work.

Fisker says it plans to sell 15,000 Karma vehicles per year globally and has received 3,000 pre-orders. The company expects to begin delivering the Karma to customers in China next fall. Fisker is also developing a higher-volume line of premium electric vehicles with extended range, scheduled to start production in the fourth quarter of 2012.

SOURCE: WSJ

Fisker says 100,000 plug-in hybrids a year could be built at Delaware plant

By dancurranjr On March 10th, 2010

Fisker Automotive CEO Henrik Fisker gave a presentation at the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner Monday night about his compnay’s plans to build plug-in vehicles (PHEVs) in Delaware. Over 450 people from the community where Fisker’s new plant (and General Motors’ old plant) is located heard Fisker speak about the Karma and the upcoming Project Nina vehicle. Nina, of course, is the lower-cost ($50,000?) plug-in hybrid that Fisker wants to build in and export from Delaware.

Based on local news reports, work on the plant is progressing smoothly, with “no major problems” discovered during an environmental assessment. Prototypes could be made there as early as next year, with full production – an estimated 100,000 cars a year – scheduled for 2014. As for vehicle sales, Fisker said that Europe and China could be big markets for the PHEVs, and he reminded the crowd that Fisker has announced 45 dealerships in the U.S., including Union Park in Wilmington, DE.

One bonus bit of information Fisker said during his speech: the prototype Karma that ran around the track at Laguna Seca cost $1.5 million.

SOURCE: Green AutoBlog

Designer Putting Some Va-Vroom in the Hybrid Car

By dancurranjr On December 14th, 2009

Fisker KarmaNot long ago, Henrik Fisker was dashing up Interstate 5 from Los Angeles to San Francisco when a highway patrolman clocked his Aston Martin roadster — a car that Fisker himself designed — going 97 mph.

He protested. (“It was 90 at the most.”). He got a ticket and set the cruise control at 70. For the next four hours, “I was overtaken by every grandmother,” he said. Running late, he pressed down the pedal.

This time, the radar gun caught him going 88 mph.

“How long since your last ticket?” the officer asked. Fisker paused, but decided to confess.

“Well, actually, not that long ago,” he replied.

Over the last two decades, Fisker has designed some of the sexiest cars on the road: sleek BMWs and Aston Martins that accelerate from 0 to 60 in the time it takes to count the fingers on one hand.

Now the Danish designer has his own Irvine-based car company and a half-billion-dollar loan from the U.S. government to build gas-electric hybrid cars that plug into a home outlet, go 50 miles without a drop of gas and don’t look a bit eco-friendly.

Oh, and they’ll also be fast.

“People feel very emotional about cars, and I don’t want them to feel bad about driving a fast car,” said Fisker, as he steered his growling roadster through rush-hour traffic in Los Angeles. “We’re building beautiful and fast cars that you can drive without having a bad conscience or ruining the environment.”

Many auto industry analysts are skeptical. History is scattered with the wreckage of car companies started by big dreamers, Preston Tucker and John DeLorean among them. Building eco-friendly cars, even eco-chic cars, is one thing, analysts say. Selling them to a fickle public, with pump prices at less than $3 a gallon, is another.

But Fisker, one of the world’s most highly regarded designers of luxury automobiles, likes his chances. And he’s a focus group of one.

“As a car lover, I ask myself: What am I going to be buying in the future?” he said. “Will it be a boring, underpowered dorky car because the government tells me I shouldn’t pollute? Or do I come up with a cool-looking, sexy dream car that is also part of the future?”

Tall and fit, tanned and blond, Fisker, 46, is a dream front-man for a car maker, with a resume that few designers can match. He is best known for designing the BMW Z8 and the Aston Martin DB9 and V8 Vantage, vehicles with six-figure sticker prices and ageless, eye-catching silhouettes.

The story of how Fisker became a heralded car designer and the head of what he likes to call “a new American car company” began in Denmark, a country with no automobile manufacturing industry. He had his first inkling that he might one day design cars when he was 5, riding in his father’s Saab near their home in suburban Copenhagen. A Maserati raced past.

“I got butterflies in my stomach,” Fisker said. “It was then that I knew I had to do something with the way cars look.”

He began drawing cars for fun and continued long after boys his age outgrew the phase. His teachers discouraged his ambitions; Denmark, after all, had no jobs for car designers.

But Fisker’s father, an electrical engineer who had visited the United States as a teenager, encouraged him.

“America had inspired him to believe that you can do whatever you want in life, and that’s what he always told me,” Fisker said. “That was not a typical thing to say to your kids in Denmark.”

Two years ago, Fisker and Bernhard Koehler, a German car executive who had worked with Fisker at both BMW and Ford, launched Fisker Automotive. The U.S. Department of Energy awarded it a $528.7 million loan in September to build two cars.

The first will be the Karma, an $87,900 plug-in hybrid sedan with solar panels that will run the climate control system, keeping the car cool when the vehicle is shut off. The Karma will be assembled in Finland, with a majority of American parts, and production will start late next year, with a target of 15,000 annually.

The majority of the federal money, though, will go to Fisker’s next-generation vehicle, code-named Project Nina, a “family oriented” plug-in hybrid sedan that will cost $47,400 (less a $7,500 federal tax credit). The Nina will be built beginning in 2012 at a former GM plant in Delaware, with an annual target of 100,000 vehicles a year.

“A lot of cars have a stylish and sexy sculpture,” Fisker said, but the Nina “will definitely be the most radical, sexy family car on the planet.”

The design of Fisker’s Nina remains under wraps at company headquarters, where fingerprint identification is required to access the design rooms. But Fisker executives say it will be as dramatic as the 4-door Karma, which has been on display.

In designing the Karma, Fisker said, he was mostly focused on what it wouldn’t look like: an eco-friendly car.

“We’re not making cars for everyone,” he said. “I want to have some character in the car. I don’t want a design that is a milk doughnut.”

Milk doughnut? “Oh, what’s the word in English? Milquetoast. That’s what I mean.”

Fisker particularly relishes his time behind the wheel, where he keeps the radar detector on and the cell phone off.

“A car is one of the last things in our civilized society where we can still control amazing power,” he said. “If the car were invented today, it wouldn’t be legal.”

He fondly recalls one particular day in Germany when he was driving to work on the Autobahn around 5 a.m. He looked up at the speedometer and was surprised to see that he was going 196 mph.

“That’s why you can’t use cup holders in Germany,” he said.

SOURCE: HeraldTribune.com

Fisker Buys Mothballed GM Factory to Build $40,000 Plug-In Hybrid Cars

By dancurranjr On November 12th, 2009

fiskerFisker Automotive is buying the old General Motors factory in Wilmington, Delaware, to produce an affordable, family-oriented plug-in hybrid sedan to cost under $40,000 after federal tax credits.

Fisker expects the production facility will create or support 2,000 factory jobs plus more than 3,000 jobs for vendors and suppliers when the factory goes on-line in late 2012.  Plus thousands more consctruction jobs between now and then to retrofit and upgrade the factory, which dates from 1947 and used to produce Pontiacs, Saturns and Chevrolets.

Right now, Fisker is calling the project to build an affordable plug-in hybrid car Project NINA. But it is unlikely the model itself will be called Nina. Fisker’s other plug-in electric car is the Karma, an $80,000 beauty that looks and acts like a sportscar. It should. Company founder Henrik Fisker used to be design director for Aston Martin. The Karma is being produced in Irvine, California, where company headquarters are located.

Fisker expects to produce 75,000-100,000 fuel efficient PHEV hybrids a year at this former GM factory, which was chosen for its size, production capacity, world-class paint facilities, access to shipping ports, rail lines and available skilled workers, according to a statement by Henrik Fisker at the ribbon cutting.

Access to shipping is important, because Fisker expects to export more than half of the sedans it produces in the USA..  Fisker Automotive announced today, Nov. 4, that it is partnering with the  Emil Frey Group one of Europe’s most prestigious auto groups, to import, market and service Fisker hybrids in Switzerland, Germany, France, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland will provide Fisker with a strong operational base in Europe.  .

The Wilmington Assembly plant has a proud history. It was built by General Motors in1947 and over the years it churned out more than 8.5 million cars, including the Pontiac Streamliner, Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet Malibu, Saturn L-Series and the Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky/Opel GT roadsters.

SOURCE: Examiner

Fisker Envisions Third, Lower-Cost Plug-In Hybrid

By dancurranjr On May 24th, 2009

fiskerFisker Automotive founder and CEO Henrik Fisker is a man on a mission.  That mission: to build plug-in electric hybrids for a multitude of demographics.  Although Fisker doesn’t have any cars on the road yet, he’s already planning his third model, which he envisions as a low-cost, high-volume vehicle.

“We’re first doing the four-door, then we’re doing the convertible and then we’re planning a high-volume vehicle for a lower price.  We’ve applied for a Department of Energy grant.  If that loan comes through, we’ll have this vehicle on the road in 29 months,” he said.

The high-volume model will be built in Pontiac, Mich., Fisker said.

“We’re setting up to do all the interface with all our suppliers and we’re gearing it up to start work on the next project, which will be a higher-volume car and will have different construction than the Karma.  We will use our learnings on how to integrate the technology.”

Fisker is taking advantage of what he sees as an opportunity that hasn’t arisen in the automotive world for some 30 or 40 years.  The sudden shift in focus to fuel-efficient cars — and the concentration on different types of hybrid technology — is allowing start-up companies to have a shot, he believes.

“They really haven’t had a chance in the last 30 or 40 years because they would just come up with another gasoline-powered car and nobody needs that.”

Fisker believes now that new technologies are becoming more viable, start-ups have the chance to outdo the bigger car companies based on their expertise in areas outside of the traditional combustion engine.  He points to Apple’s iPhone as an example of the explosion of a new technology allowing non-traditional players to enter the fray and make names for themselves.

We suggest Henrik focus on his first — and possibly biggest — challenge: successfully launching his company’s first endeavor, the Karma.  Then we can talk more about low-cost, high-volume plug-ins for the masses.

SOURCE: Automobile