By on February 20, 2012

Fisker Automotive CEO Henrik Fisker is doing some major damage control after the Department of Energy announced that loans  totalling roughly $336 million would not be issued to the company. Fisker Automotive is apparently seeking private equity funding to solve what’s being called a temporary cash-flow issue, but the company may be facing deeper problems than that.

A123 Technologies, a major battery supplier for Fisker, cut its revenue forecast by 20 percent off upon news of Fisker reducing vehicle production. A123 has seen its payroll decline by 300 workers since July of 2011, and the Boston Globe is quoting an analyst who thinks that the DOE’s loans are dead in the water, a development that will bring down both Fisker and A123 Systems.

Fisker is also being sued by a California investor who says that Fisker demanded nearly $84,000, or else the investor would lose certain rights that came with his stock issue, such as a protection against share dilution. Fisker has delivered 250 examples of the Karma so far, but has missed a number of deadlines contingent on continuing DOE loans – which are needed to make the more affordable Fisker Nina EV. Government loans for any green technology are a political third rail right now (can anyone say Solyndra). Republican candidate Gov. Mitt Romney slammed the loans as “crony capitalism”, and Fisker himself seems averse to taking any government funds.

The press drive for the Karma was held just recently, and Fisker’s company line ranged from defiant (with Fisker stating that “We are a viable, self-funded car company”) to oblivious (in the case of the lawsuit, which Fisker PR claimed no knowledge of). Is this just a “bump in the road”, or the start of something bigger for Fisker?

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59 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: Is A Fisker Death Watch Premature?...”


  • avatar
    tikki50

    It’s not the best way to start up a car company thats for sure. Id hate to see them go and with the upcoming technology (Hybrids and EV’s) they’re should be more companies coming on board. Lots and LOTS of change over the next 10 years.

  • avatar
    PintoFan

    I don’t really know what’s going on with Fisker, but what I do know is that the current Republican obsession with the “crony capitalism” meme is getting pretty stale. You can only get so much traction out of what was fundamentally a meaningless term to begin with. Coming from Romney, it’s even more pathetic.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crony_capitalism

      It is what it is. You need to read “1984″ more carefully. I understand that the progressives took it to be a how-to book, but your understanding of how to implement Newspeak is lacking.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        I’ll see you halfway and agree that both parties have sold out.

        But, seriously, the two-party choice is:
        a) Have your pocket picked, and the proceeds used to invade oil-rich 3rd world countries that were no threat to the USA. Skeptics will be called “unpatriotic”.
        b) Have your pocket picked, and have the proceeds be given to welfare queens.
        c) Throw your vote to a 3rd-party nutcase.

        I used to be a Republican (when I was a kid), and then I was a Libertarian (when I was in college, and for a while after), so I’ve explored the options. After a good long look at my values and our politicians, though, I decided that I’d rather that my money be sent off to those welfare queens than used to go kill people. Now I’m “Pragmatic”.

        I find it hard to believe that you can’t see the way Republicans have sold, though. Give it some thought. Your local LP would love to have you.

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        Quoting Orwell AND Wikipedia? What is that, like 10k bonus points on the Free Republic scoring system?

        Republicans had absolutely zero problem with widespread corporate welfare before about 2009, or whenever Sarah Palin started repeating “crony capitalism” over and over on Fox. They saw no cause for protest when General Dynamics, Halliburton, and Blackwater essentially became government agencies in the early 2000′s, nor did they raise a fuss when patent law and consumer protection agencies were gutted in order to become subsidiaries of the likes of Monsanto in the years before that. What Republicans don’t like is when government money is redirected from their pet interests (promoting war, shady agriculture monopolies, and social engineering) to something that advances science or that could conceivably help somebody that makes less than $250k a year. If you pull out the supposed definition of “crony capitalism” to its logical conclusion, then every dollar ever spent by a government is in effect a bribe. It’s a ridiculous, intentionally paralyzing argument that is explicitly designed to destroy the regulatory capacity of any government, or its ability to promote the general welfare of the people. It’s the kind of stuff that fake football fields are paved with and that talking heads love.

        I honestly want to like Mitt Romney. I think that in a general sense, he means well, but he’s going completely off his rocker to appeal to a “base” that barely even exists anymore. That, and his entanglement with corporate interests is much worse than almost any other choice we’ve been offered thus far. It doesn’t really matter, because Santorum has much more of what the Republican constituency wants.

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        “You need to read “1984″ more carefully. I understand that the progressives took it to be a how-to book”

        And here I had been thinking all along that you conservatives had been using it as your bible, what with the perpetual fear-mongering about Eastasia (or is it Eurasia now?) ever poised to destroy our way of life, either thru force or subversion.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Obama’s policies are a bit ahead of schedule, and you may well learn the error of your ways late this summer. That’s when you’ll realize that things that aren’t luxuries reserved for the rich today have become them thanks to Obama’s energy, environmental, and foreign policies. Enjoy your utopia. Republicans, whose flaws I can plainly see, wouldn’t destroy our standards of living by spending money with defense contractors. Democrats are well on their way though, by undermining our utilization of real resources under the guise of environmentalism while wasting billions on energy scams that have only ever been meant to justify funneling money to cronies. Obama says we must be ‘weened’ from fossil fuels. Just remember that it will also involve being weened off of freedom of movement, affordable food, warmth in the winter, and jobs. You are complicit.

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        That’s right, I am complicit. I am complicit in acknowledging that fossil fuels are obviously a finite resource. I am complicit in agreeing that the kind of dirty energy binge that sustained growth in the 20th century is both unsustainable and poisonous to our children and our planet. And I am complicit in realizing that sitting and waiting for gas to hit $8 a gallon before doing something about our dependence on imported oil is both myopic and dangerous. You ridicule me, but I’m not the one foolish enough to assume that an empire built on coercing the rest of the world to give us dead dinosaurs will last forever. In all seriousness, I can envision Chinese apparatchiks sitting around their computers and laughing at posts such as yours. They know that as long as our political system is riddled with denialists and do-nothings, they have nothing to fear from us.

        You think Orwell was right, but after reading the comments on many threads relating to electric cars I have to say that I think Huxley was much closer.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Wow. I’m not sure what planet you’re living on, but the Chinese are laughing at us because of Obama sabotaging our future for them by blocking the Keystone pipeline so they can have Canadian oil, by sending drilling equipment and money to Brazil to drill oil for their use, and by pretty much freeing up the world’s resources for their exclusive use. You couldn’t be more deluded and brain washed.

      • 0 avatar
        Pete K

        What, did you think the Keystone XL pipeline would save us from the price of gas EVER going up again? We’ve been expecting this shoe to drop since 2008! It sure as heck wouldn’t have helped you with this current rise in oil prices…

        Besides, the Canadians will realize how massive a waste of Nat Gas and water these tar sands are and abandon this mining operation in a few years time. You’re working with a net energy loss and that game plan won’t last very long…

        We are in this place now because we refused to prepare for this situation. We are the grasshopper and not that ants! I am saddened by the stupidity of the common American. There is no drill baby drill policy that will save us from our current consumption model! We’re either too in shock or too stupid to realize this now…it’s really sad…

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        “What, did you think the Keystone XL pipeline would save us from the price of gas EVER going up again? We’ve been expecting this shoe to drop since 2008! It sure as heck wouldn’t have helped you with this current rise in oil prices…”

        You can replace Keystone with ANWAR and you’d have the debate of a decade ago. But you know what? We never drilled in ANWAR, and we are still as vulnerable to world oil price spikes because of people like you who told the same lies you’re now telling about Keystone. Of course drilling the huge recent dicoveries in the Gulf of Mexico would help drive down prices too, but Obama the traitorous saboteur blocked that with his permit games. The one thing you’re right about is that energy as a luxury good has been predictable since 2008, when a majority of the electorate took a leave of their senses and voted for a campus radical that said the US should have higher energy prices and be weened from fossil fuels. Everything he has done since has bent us over for this.

      • 0 avatar
        Pete K

        ANWR would’ve required a monster pipeline and at maximum would have given us 2 million barrels per day…let’s not forget we consume 20 million barrels per day. 10% is def nothing to sneeze at, but ANWR isn’t exactly nearby the other 48 states…

        Oh, drilling in the gulf eh? Did you forget about the Gulf oil spill? That was a huge mess that is still an ongoing catastrophe! You’re so blinded by what you consider to be a god given right to cheap oil. Sorry bud, the party is over…we got the easy oil in the US and now it is exponentially more difficult to US domestic oil. Instead of changing our way of life we want to continue to pretend that this party isn’t over…it’s over and you’re in denial…

      • 0 avatar
        supersleuth

        There’s only one thing you need to know about conservatives who whine about things like ANWR and Keystone: they have zero understanding of how oil markets work. Otherwise they’d be aware that 1) all that matters for pricing is the balance of WORLD (not US) supply and demand, and 2) both ANWR and Keystone together would account for a drop in the ocean of world production. It would also be nice if they’d acquaint themselves with the fact that most of the Canadian oil passing through the Keystone pipeline would be destined for export to other countries.

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        The ignorance of energy markets is to be expected from the “drill baby drill” crowd. Most of them aren’t even aware that we’re net exporters of refined petroleum products. They want it to be simplified down into a supply issue (which it isn’t) because that’s the only thing they’re capable of understanding. Everything else speaks for itself, especially the willful ignorance of sustainability issues. Of course, I’m making the tragic mistake of assuming that anything said thus far in favor of the current model of energy consumption is in any way sincere, and not merely a politically convenient club to beat the current administration with.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        There are 1.6 Billion people in China and a good portion of them would dearly love to match our lifestyle. That’s a potential 4.6 times more people than currently live in the USA.

        ANWAR and the Keystock pipeline aren’t even a drip compared to what’s ahead.

        The clock is ticking.

        We can point fingers at Obama and call names but the fact is what we’ve been doing in this country isn’t going to be economically viable at some point in the future long before the oil is all used up.

        At some point commodities like food and oil will likely be vastly more expensive than it is now just because we are competing for the same oil – if we are to believe the news and science shows about oil , where it comes from, the trouble of getting it out of the ground, etc.

        Folks “in the know” are likely protecting their family fortunes by quietly spinning the political debate in their favor for a generation or two in anticipation. Meanwhile we working stiffs are playing divide and conquer games over the age old political hot potatoes that come ’round every election cycle and which will never truly change – the gender of your bedmate, abortion, gun control, birth control, ‘isms like socialism and conservatism, religion, etc. The whole process is a distraction from the real meat of the problems our society faces.

      • 0 avatar
        acuraandy

        @JoeAverage:

        That’s probably among the most intelligent arguments i’ve ever seen on this site (and written myself). That said…to retort…

        ‘There are 1.6 Billion people in China and a good portion of them would dearly love to match our lifestyle. That’s a potential 4.6 times more people than currently live in the USA.’

        Indeed, that is why we should exploit our own (and Canada’s if they are willing) natural resources. Sure, if Keystone XL or ANWAR came on line, we probably wouldn’t see sub-$2/gal gasoline, but $3 or $4/gal is better than the ‘predicted’ $6/GAL! by this summer. Keep in mind, this is more because the US$ is worth significantly less than it was even 5 years ago than oil ‘costing more’.

        ‘Folks “in the know” are likely protecting their family fortunes by quietly spinning the political debate in their favor for a generation or two in anticipation. Meanwhile we working stiffs are playing divide and conquer games over the age old political hot potatoes that come ’round every election cycle and which will never truly change – the gender of your bedmate, abortion, gun control, birth control, ‘isms like socialism and conservatism, religion, etc. The whole process is a distraction from the real meat of the problems our society faces.’ Sorry to copy/paste that whole paragraph, but it is for a reason.

        My family has no fortune. My father has worked his ass off for over 40 years to only be left with nothing, including any investments as they all took a shit circa 2008. May have been mal-investment, sure, but if he’s lucky, he’ll be able to retire at about 70 years old. THIS is a result of government interference in free markets, NOT ‘big oil’.

        Yes, this election is a distraction from the ‘meat’ of issues our society faces. It is also a referendum of the policies of Socialism (there’s that ‘ism word again…) that have failed, time and time again, and will continue to until the ‘feel good, live and let live’ types realize IT JUST DOESN’T WORK!

        Like it or not, petroleum is the most accessible, cheapest source of energy for cars, planes, boats, trains and plastics there is. If people would just realize that, I really think we would all be better off.

    • 0 avatar
      lzaffuto

      Ever since the supreme court decided that money is free speech it is the only thing politicians listen to anymore. Shills for corporations and special interests is all they are. If you want to be heard, what you need isn’t votes, but few billion dollars.

    • 0 avatar
      PJ McCombs

      Oh, how I long for the day when Americans can debate public policy without citing Orwell (or police states, or ‘the 1%’, or fascism, or communism, or…) three posts into the thread.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I long for the days when we didn’t have card carrying communists like Van Jones and fascists like Obama that knew who he was and appointed him in our politics. Isn’t it just awful when people talk about uncomfortable truths?

    • 0 avatar
      Lokki

      PintoFan -

      You’re wrong, you know, about a dearth of fossil-fuels. You’ve made an error in assuming that technology has only advanced in the electrical car/wind mill/solar panel arenas. It’s also advanced in the oil-drilling/natural gas/other natural sources of carbon-based fuels arenas.

      There is perhaps, a 1,000 year supply from various sources.

      Here for example is a 2009 article regarding Natural Gas supplies
      http://www.eenews.net/public/Greenwire/2009/06/18/1

      By the way, one of my friends (a professor at a major university) is currently engaged in a project to make natural gas into diesel fuel -at the well head. Conversion at the well-head allows for easier transport from off-shore sources. For the record, this is privately funded research.

      And here is (gasp!) an NPR article regarding oil fracking and the impact of this technology on oil production:

      http://www.npr.org/2011/09/25/140784004/new-boom-reshapes-oil-world-rocks-north-dakota

      “The US, Jaffe says, could have 2 trillion barrels of oil waiting to be drilled. South America could hold another 2 trillion. And Canada? 2.4 trillion. That’s compared to just 1.2 trillion in the Middle East and north Africa.”

      Finally, advancing technology means there’s a new kid on the block: Methane Hydrate.

      https://www.llnl.gov/str/Durham.html

      “By some estimates, the energy locked up in methane hydrate deposits is more than twice the global reserves of all conventional gas, oil, and coal deposits combined. ”

      As for that horror of horrors, Man-caused Global-warming,er climate change, er whatever,
      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203646004577213244084429540.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

      “The computer-model predictions of alarming global warming have seriously exaggerated the warming by CO2 and have underestimated other causes. Since CO2 is not a pollutant but a substantial benefit to agriculture, and since its warming potential has been greatly exaggerated, it is time for the world to rethink its frenzied pursuit of decarbonization at any cost.”

      • 0 avatar
        PintoFan

        I never said that there was a dearth of fossil fuels. The world has had a glut supply of fossil fuels for several years now. It doesn’t change the substance of my criticism, which is that increasing consumption of a finite resource is not a sustainable pattern. The environmental damage caused by the never-ending quest for new sources of fossil fuels is already self-apparent. As sources become more and more difficult to exploit, the resulting environmental damage will be ever greater.

        Ask anyone in northern Ohio or other areas of the Midwest what they have to say about fracking and how much they enjoy the chemicals polluting their water table. Ask any of the fishermen and other people who depend on the Gulf Coast for their livelihood what they think of giving foreign corporations infinite license to drill holes in the ocean floor so they can suck out more pollutants.

        Not one person knows with certainty just how much energy remains in fossil fuel deposits across the globe. And nobody seems to be willing to ask what the planet will look like when all of those available fuel sources have been combusted. The very fact that there is a glut of oil supply right now is the reason we ought to be looking ahead at what our next move is. That’s what responsibility is, and it’s what sincere, mature people tend to agree on. Don’t confuse fake grass with the real thing.

      • 0 avatar
        Pete K

        Oh, so we should ignore the fact that many predictions made about potential untapped oil reserves have been exaggerated in the past…good to know!

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    No, it’s not premature. All’s fair in love, war and automotive journalism.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    More like stillborn watch. Unlike GM, this one will be quick.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    About half of technology startups that get venture funding will fail. The number of home runs among them is very low.

    Betting against Fisker folding is akin to betting that there will be snow in Vegas in July; there’s not much reason to take that bet.

    The question, in my mind, is whether some other company will acquire it. Whether there is enough there to warrant an acquisition, I don’t know. That’s a beautiful design, but is there some sort of usable IP to go with it?

    • 0 avatar
      Chocolatedeath

      To be honest I dont know alot about this company other than that I have never seen one up close. As far as your question goes concerning if there is some IP to go along with the design.

      I am inclined to stick my neck out and so no. I think that they are using tech that is not new and not using a new way of applying.

      The design is rather nice however I think that if Toyota or someone like that bought it, it wouldn’t cost much. However like I said before I really dont know that much about them.

      With that said I think they are toast.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “I am inclined to stick my neck out and say no.”

        I don’t know all of the facts, but I would guess that this is the correct answer.

        In my opinion, it doesn’t make sense for a government agency to fund a production-oriented alternative vehicle startup. It would be better for government to fund the R&D so that an established car maker with economies of scale could use it (assuming that the R&D works.)

        In other words, let the tech guys solve the technology problem, then allow major car producers with US operations to license the technology on the cheap in exchange for creating domestic employment. There’s no need to invent entirely new companies to manufacture cars, when car production is itself a low margin, capital intensive business.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @Pch101: “There’s no need to invent entirely new companies to manufacture cars, when car production is itself a low margin, capital intensive business.”

        I understand where you’re coming from, but I’d like to point out that existing car companies (especially) GM seem to have huge problems with inertia and adapting to change.

        Rival upstarts like Tesla and Fiskar (to a lesser degree) seem to be providing some nimble competition. Even Bob Lutz said in public that the Volt was a response to what those upstarts in California were doing successfully. While the Volt is an overpriced halo car at the moment, it IS a new technology that needed to be on the road years ago.

        So, I disagree with the idea that the existing car companies are the answer. I agree that they’re very good at high volume mass-market cars, but we need a mix of different kind of companies if we want both technological innovation and economies of scale. This country has gone far too long without a startup automaker.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Rival upstarts like Tesla and Fiskar (to a lesser degree) seem to be providing some nimble competition.”

        Tesla has taken a Lotus and installed batteries in it. Its most successful product to date is an IPO. Aside from marketing its fundraising, it hasn’t innovated much of anything.

        Electric cars have been in existence for a century. During that time, the fundamental problems of range and recharge times have not been fixed by any of the producers of electric cars.

        Meanwhile, car production is a low margin business. There is very little potential for a car start up to make money; they can’t achieve the economies of scale needed to maintain sustainable profits in such a capital intensive industry, while car production doesn’t lend itself to high margins per unit.

        If someone can solve the range and recharge problem, then the major automakers will start churning these things out like crazy, and people will buy them. Without solving that problem, the cars will remain an eclectic toy for a small group of buyers, in which case there will be no reason for the industry to mass produce them. Neither alternative merits diverting the money to a production-oriented startup.

      • 0 avatar
        probert

        @pch101

        “Tesla has taken a Lotus and installed batteries in it”

        Is that all they did? Toyota must be very stupid to have paid 10s of millions for their expertise.
        “Hey dudes, just stick a battery in it.”
        Doh

      • 0 avatar
        charly

        @Pch101

        Car companies loath to license. They are not used to it and when they do it it is to create paper losses (see for example Opel)

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Toyota must be very stupid to have paid 10s of millions for their expertise.”

        Let’s follow the money:

        -Toyota was stuck with all of the costs of the NUMMI plant closure, thanks to the GM bankruptcy.

        -Had the plant been shut down, there would have been associated environmental clean up costs, for which Toyota could have possibly been liable.

        Instead:

        -Toyota agrees to invest $50 million into Tesla

        -NUMMI agrees to buy the NUMMI plant for $42 million. Net result: Toyota gets rid of NUMMI for $8 million, while passing on the environmental liability to Tesla.

        -Meanwhile, Tesla uses the NUMMI purchase to secure $465 million in loans from the Department of Energy, some of which will indirectly benefit Toyota and Tesla’s deal to develop the next RAV 4 EV.

        So in effect, the Tesla deal probably put money into Toyota’s pocket through the savings that it generated. The deal probably benefits TMC even if not a single RAV4 EV ever gets built.

    • 0 avatar
      Chocolatedeath

      So I have a question for you and I guess everyone else. Would the money be a better investment if they loaned it to Dupont or GE for R and D? Or better yet the USDOT?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Would the money be a better investment if they loaned it to Dupont or GE for R and D? Or better yet the USDOT?”

        I don’t know who exactly should get it, but something along those lines makes more sense. If there is a problem to be solved, it is one of technology, not of production.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        “There’s no need to invent entirely new companies to manufacture cars, when car production is itself a low margin, capital intensive business.”

        I can’t speak for DuPont or GE, but I spent part of the weekends pouring over IBM’s annual report (I’m partway through an MBA program), and they’re a bluechip company that can theoretically pour at least another $20 billion per year into R&D, if they could convince their shareholders that it would do any good. GE and DuPont are likely in the same boat. The half a billion dollars in LOANS that Fiskar received is just a drop in the bucket to a bluechip company like IBM, DuPont, or GE.

        Of the alternatives you suggested, the USDOT would be a better place to put this half billion dollar of loans — and these kinds of projects are often financed with bonds, so a loan with the right terms would get the job done. This doesn’t incubate new technologies like loaning the money to Fiskar, but good highway bridges, railroads, and airports (when put in the right places) create many times their cost in value.

        But, hey, someone needs to invent the electric car so that our foreign policy can be about defense instead of about oil. We also need to build out the infrastructure for Natural Gas vehicles for the same reason (CNG cars and trucks have been proven and fueling stations exist, just not here in the USA).

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    Without trying to get too political, I see this as a shame that the Feds pulled the loan. A tremendous amount of technological innovation in the past century has come from goverment funded R&D, not private ventures, and good number of those innovations came from US government involvement, in particular. The Chinese government has no such reservations about funding resarch and design initiatives that later turn directly into market competition against US based companies.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      “Without trying to get too political, I see this as a shame that the Feds pulled the loan.”

      From the articles, it appears as though their loans were contingent upon some mutually-agreed-upon performance criteria.

      They weren’t able to meet the criteria, so they don’t get the loan.

      This seems entirely reasonable and fair.

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      “goverment funded R&D”

      This strikes me more as a “production” project, not R&D. In fact, if the R&D and subsequent fundamental technology were better I think large manufacturers like Ford and GM would jump right in without (much) help or prodding.

      Synergy Drive isn’t a result of iteratively improving conventional automatic transmissions. It was a completely different system that came from R&D. Funding production of vehicles with a $100k price points might allow you to interactively improve existing technology, but it’s not going to result in something fundamentally better like Synergy Drive.

  • avatar
    carguy

    There certainly is not shortage of analysts that are proclaiming the end of Fisker. I can’t argue with their prognosis as it is very difficult to see a way forward for them given their situation.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Fisker made a big deal of the fact that they didn’t need that much capital because they were relying on their suppliers to design large portions of the car. If Fisker has any chance of surviving it will only be if the suppliers deem the company worth supporting financially. Pch101′s comment on whether there is enough IP is dead on target. I don’t think the Karma would have sufficient IP, but I wonder if the Nina is worth saving. If the Nina got to the tooling stage, and if(unlike the Karma)it doesn’t weigh as much as a Greyhound bus, maybe somebody will pick it up.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    My wife and I got to see one of these circuit-boards-on-wheels on Saturday. $98,000? Really? A very impressive car, to be sure. Like any new technology, I hope they make it, but I’m not too optimistic at this point.

    In my opinion, a significant breakthrough in battery technology or some sort of reasonable fuel cell alternative is needed and we’re not there yet.

    “Unlike GM”? Death watch? Don’t bet on GM going away any time soon.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      “a significant breakthrough in battery technology or some sort of reasonable fuel cell alternative is needed ”

      I think that a business model can take the place of technology in the interim. A Better Place has a concept that I would be willing to adopt if they offered it across the Chicagoland area, and I think that a significant number of other drivers would go for it too. Leasing usage of the battery pack eliminates my risk of battery adoption, and a swapping strategy solves my range issues (as long as I’m driving in the metro area, which is 90% of my miles). The remaining miles can be handled with my wife’s car.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      “You will see some spectacular failures among the EV startups.”- Jim Federico, GM exec, 2011.
      Since the Fisker uses a GM engine for range extension, I hope they are not in that group. I’d also like to see GM’s old plant running and some jobs for folks in Wilmington.

      Dispite the simplistic way many here look at the business, it is a very, very hard business. As Tesla CEO, Elon Musk said, “This business is a lot harder than I thought.”
      You are right about GM. They are back!

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Good Doctor, it’s always a pleasure to hear your insight on the business. It’s a nice counterpoint to Buickman’s take from a different perspective, whose opinions I value as well.

  • avatar
    mac

    I wouldn’t be terribly sad to see Fisker go, but I would be extremely worried if they took A123 Systems with them – they’re the only US-based battery manufacturer that can really compete with Panasonic and Samsung, in terms of quality and energy capacity. If A123 goes under, the USA is just left with Dow Kokam, and honestly, you’d be better of with a chinese cell from a company like BAK than with cells from Kokam.

  • avatar

    If the Nina is a plugin (as opposed to a pure battery electric) and if it weighs at least a ton less than the karma, and preferably 2500 lbs less, then it might be worth saving. At 5500 lbs, and 20 mpg after the ICE kicks in, the Karma is ridiculously bloated. I mean, like, what’s the point?

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    Solyndra, anyone?

    AS I’VE WRITTEN BEFORE…
    If EVs were viable without destroying the electric infrastructure, we’d all be driving descendants of Model T-Priuii (as there have been EVs since there have been cars).

    Fisker, like Tesla, like Solyndra, saw a ‘can’t fail’ in fed loans to sustain their business models back in 2008-09, and decided to take the ball and run with it. Problem is, sales are in the toilet, only the elite can afford such cars (Colin Powell, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jay Leno, et. al), and thus, the volume isn’t there.

    The days of mortgaging a brand new Suburban or Escalade are over, let alone a glorified golf cart. Just sayin’…

    As a US taxpayer, how much is THIS one gonna cost me?

    • 0 avatar
      PJ McCombs

      On the other side of the coin, the foothold that electrified powertrains have gained in the last 10 years is pretty remarkable, suggesting that this really is the way the market is going–if not at the breakneck pace required to support moon-shot projects like Tesla and Fisker.

      The Prius went from selling about 5,000 units in 2000 to 140,000 units in 2011, even as other hybrids came onto the market and also started selling in volume. When these kinds of cars become the default choice for people who don’t care about cars–I’d give it a decade–Fisker-style business models should be pretty sustainable.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      So end subsidies on oil and let’s see what the price of oil does. If oil/gasoline jumps to $8 per gallon in the USA – how viable will it be? How competitive will EVs be then?

      Right now the cost of driving a $35K Leaf is about the same as driving a $20K 25mpg gasoline car over 200,000 miles including one battery replacement.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    No, its not too soon, I’m hoping Carroll Shelby will buy out this company and drop a super snake motor into a Fisker body. Karma my ass, call it the “Nitro” in honor of Shelby’s last race in 1960.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    Fisker doesn’t have the profile of Tesla or the sycophant fan base of GM or Saab. A Death Watch just wouldn’t be any fun.

  • avatar
    faygo

    Fisker is in much better shape than Tesla was a few years ago, so I suspect that they will ride this out. to wit :

    1) they have had automotive people involved from the start. Tesla didn’t know what their car even cost them to make, even after they’d sold a few hundred of them (look it up, this came up in the Musk/Eberhard corporate divorce, Musk blamed it on Eberhard, then Eberhard blamed it on Musk). they showed fundamental lack of understanding of the car business as well as impressive hubris. this was somewhat ameliorated this by hiring several middle/lower upper tier people from the OEMs.

    2) the Karma is actually a viable alternative to something like an S Class/Panemera/7-series/A8 in that it looks cool, has cache, will hold four people and does not have range issues. unlike a Tesla Roadster which is a toy, you could use an Karma every day, for it’s intended purpose. the inability to track a Tesla Roadster (or take it on a twisty road road trip) puts it behind a 911 for similar money or an Elise for half.

    3) if they do indeed have non-gov’t investors behind the company (quite likely, given Fisker’s personal connections from his time at very high levels in the industry) they will soldier on.

    part of what gets me about all the complaints about subsidizing auto companies (or anyone for that matter) to create jobs by coming up with new technology (or implementing existing tech) is that Japan did this for _decades_ thru MITI and zero-interest loans. we know that Lexus didn’t make a dollar in the US market for years and until the most recent generation of Prius, lost money on every one. but they stuck with both of those enterprises and now dominate their segments.

    in the case of green energy or car companies, they won’t all be winners. and with anything where money is handed out, there will be bad decisions, lies and corruption, this should surprise no one, no where. however, if the availability of some money from a source which isn’t looking to make tons of money (venture capital) makes some new tech possible ahead of when it would otherwise be, that’s not a bad thing. in some cases, it might be the only way to not lose to China or Japan or whomever else subsidizes development. AFAIK, the entire solar panel industry is a mess at the moment, be it Solyndra or big Chinese makers or longstanding previously successful companies.

  • avatar
    crm114

    The death watch should have started the moment the EPA numbers were released.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    This whole Fisker/Tesla start-up exotic car madness smells fishy to me. First off, Silicon Valley billionaires didn’t make their billions making a physical product (at least not since Dell Computer did an IPO). So, they have no particular expertise in manufacturing anything.

    Secondly, an automobile is a really complex thing . . . and making one today involves the application of decades of institutional experience — wisdom, even — and failure (See, GM EV-1.)

    Say what you will about them, but the established automobile manufacturers (and I don’t mean exoticar builders like Lotus) have tremendous experience and expertise in the (pardon me for saying) “nuts and bolts” of making a car.

    So, why is it that taxpayer dollars are involved to any degree in subsidizing folks like Fisker, Tesla and others? Assuming for purposes of discussion that it is a good use of taxpayer dollars to subsidize the development of an EV, why shouldn’t a set of spec’s be issued and the contract bid out? Is it because that no knowledgeable manufacturer of autos would even bid the job?

    I’m happy to let the dot.com lottery winners spend their money as foolishly as they like (it’s their money, after all), but having taxpayer dollars thrown in with them strikes me as utter madness.

    At least spend the money in supporting basic science research.

  • avatar
    autobahner44

    Start the Doomsday clock…

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Weeds are growing in the parking lot of the Elsmere plant Fisker used as a bargaining chip in the deal. They just knocked down the Newark Chrysler plant across town where a politically connected green company is going to build something for renewable energy eventually, someday. Anyway Sen, Chris Coons gets in on that deal so I guess it’s OK.
    Fisker should do this with private funds. As should all great ideas, if it is truly great they should have no problem finding capital that wants to flourish.


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