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

U.S. Batteries for First U.S. Plug-in Hybrid

By dancurranjr On May 15th, 2009

hybrid_battery_packThe Fisker Automotive Karma, which looks like it will be the first plug-in hybrid sold in the United States, could be powered by lithium ion batteries from Enerdel, based in Indianapolis.

The two companies have signed a letter of intent for a supply contract, pending the results of reliability and performance testing, according to a press release from Enerdel. The battery maker also announced the opening of “the first commercial-scale production line for automotive-grade lithium-ion batteries in the U.S.” The plant is in Indiana.

Enerdel uses lithium manganese oxide electrodes, the same type used in the batteries selected for GM’s Volt plug-in hybrid. It was developed at Argonne National Laboratory with support from the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium (comprising Ford, GM, and Chrysler).

Fisker had originally said that it would use batteries from Advanced Lithium Power, based in Vancouver, BC.

Plug-in hybrids use large battery packs that can be recharged by plugging them in, reducing gasoline consumption far more than ordinary hybrids, which can’t be plugged in.

SOURCE: MIT Technology Review

Fisker Bags $85M to Build Plug-in Hybrid Karma

By dancurranjr On April 14th, 2009

fiskerFisker Automotive is rounding the bend on production of its first vehicle, the luxury plug-in hybrid Fisker Karma. A Department of Energy loan still hangs in the balance for a lower-cost model, but the Irvine, Calif.-based startup has just announced $85 million in new venture capital to help develop and manufacture the $87,900 Karma sports car.

Fisker said in its announcement that it remains on track to begin production by the end of this year. Given that the company doesn’t plan to build or refurbish its own factory (one of the hurdles for rival startup Tesla Motors in producing its Model S sedan) for the first generation of Karmas, Fisker may be able to move fairly quickly into production. Although Fisker has said it eventually wants to set up manufacturing in the U.S., the company has signed on Valmet Automotive to assemble the Karma in Finland, at least initially.

To be sure, challenges could still arise before the Karma makes it into showrooms, and Fisker is hardly immune to the ills of the larger auto industry. Fisker’s technology partner, Quantum Technologies (developing the Karma drivetrain) is feeling the strain of plummeting demand in the auto industry, and especially General Motors, a key customer.

Kleiner Perkins and the European-American investment group Eco Drive Capital Partners joined this round, the fourth-largest in Fisker’s two years of existence. Just last month, Fisker added $3 million (to secure an exclusive supply of battery technology from Advanced Lithium Power) to the $65 million the company raised back in September. This latest round brings the company’s fundraising to some $185 million.

SOURCE: Earth2Tech

Fast Fiskers: Ultra-High-Performance Hybrids – Video

By dancurranjr On April 6th, 2009

fiskerHenrik Fisker, founder of Fisker Automotive, was on his way to the airport, but his cell phone was at the ready. When he’s not preparing the truly outrageous $80,000 Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid for an October launch, he has time to think about another, rather different car.

“If we were to get a Department of Energy low-interest loan, we could get a head start on a higher-volume, lower-cost car,” he said. “It’s always been in our business plan, but this would allow us to start earlier. We could create thousands of new jobs in the U.S., and we could be producing cars in 29 months.”

Of course, this is Fisker, so it would still be an ultra high-performance car. Just smaller. The market is getting crowded with fast electrics: In addition to Tesla, with its Roadster and Model S, there’s also new entry Velozzi, which is partnering with Bayer Material Science LLC to build “commercially viable eco-friendly alternative energy vehicles,” including an outrageous supercar.

The DOE has $25 billion in funding for battery and EV makers through a dedicated fund for companies willing to build plants in the U.S. Although the money was approved in 2007, none of it has been awarded yet, and lately new startups have sprung up like mushrooms after a spring rain—all of them in line for that same pot of gold.

Fisker is no upstart, however. He says he has 1,300 advance orders for the high-performance Karma (which is complemented by a to-be-added convertible version). More than 30 dealers have been signed up. “We have over-subscription of dealer interest,” Fisker said. The plan is to produce 1,200 cars a month, starting in June of next year.

The Karma will be built in Finland, but the small car will of necessity have to be made in the U.S.A. “We’re looking at several states in the Midwest,” Fisker said. “The idea is to find a closed auto plant and retool it. We would hire a lot of engineers.”

The new car would be a plug-in hybrid, like the Karma. “Pure electrics are still a niche product because of the range problem,” he said. “And the battery in a plug-in hybrid is only a quarter to a third the size of what is required for a pure EV. An affordable plug-in hybrid would have real mass-market potential. Hundreds of thousands of people would pay premium money.”

SOURCE: Mother Nature Network

Hybrids Finally Get Sexy

By dancurranjr On April 3rd, 2009

fiskerTesla Motors, the California Automotive start up thats only car is a electronic roadster, promised that they’d have a showroom in Miami by the end of March. Hasn’t happened yet, but they swear they’re working on it.

Seems competition in the eco-friendly roadster market is heating up, as the makers of the Fisker Karma are now preparing to release their car to the public. The Karma, a plug-in hybrid, is reported to get up to 100mpg in some circumstances, and can reach a top speed of 125 mph. It goes 0 to 60 in a respectable 5.8 seconds (your hippie aunt’s Prius does 10.4 on its better days. Though the Tesla Roadster can do it in 3.7). All that for the low, low price of only $87,900 …well it’s cheaper than the Tesla.

Fisker begin taking pre-orders last month, and today announced a network of 32 American dealers that will carry the car, including Warren Henry Automobiles in Miami. They’ll begin delivering on private orders later this year, and should have cars in showrooms by 2009. Once production revs up to full speed the company hopes to produce 15,000 cars a year.

SOURCE: Miami News Times