By on January 5, 2016

astonfisker2

Car designer Henrik Fisker is planning on launching a new vehicle, called the Force 1, next week at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, in conjunction with Bob Lutz’s VL Automotive.

To make sure that the debut comes off without a hitch, according to the Detroit News, Fisker is suing Aston Martin in U.S. Federal Court for $100 million, alleging civil extortion.

Fisker used to be in charge of design for Aston Martin. The British automaker had claimed earlier that Fisker’s new design was cribbed from one of its own.

The lawsuit is in response to a letter, characterized as “threatening” by Fisker’s lawyers, sent to Fisker last month by Aston Martin’s American lawyers. It claimed that a top-view sketch released as a teaser for the Force 1 appears “strikingly similar to several of Aston Martin’s cars, including the DB10 car.” The DB10 was an Aston Martin concept featured in the most recent James Bond movie, “Spectre,” and is said by Aston Martin to portend the look of their cars going forward.

Aston Martin DB10

This all seems a bit silly if you think about the fact that neither car exists as a car you can buy. Yes, Aston Martin did build ten DB10s, essentially putting custom bodies on the V8 Vantage’s aluminum VH platform architecture, but they did so for a fictional movie.

The letter asked Fisker to either change the design or not debut the car at the show in Detroit. Though Aston Martin’s attorneys acknowledge in the letter that they don’t know what the final design of the Force 1 will look like, they stressed that the automaker “will not hesitate to protect its valuable rights if necessary.”

aston-fisker-630x258

For his part, Fisker’s lawyer gave the reason for the suit in a statement: “We believe that in an effort to protect itself from further market erosion, Aston Martin and their three executives who run the company, conspired and devised a scheme to stomp out Henrik Fisker’s competitive presence in the luxury sports car industry.”

Included in the filing are sketches showing differences between the two cars. I’m sure that our in-house design expert Sajeev Mehta can appreciate them, but the drawings remind me a little of George Harrison on the witness stand explaining how “My Sweet Lord” was not plagiarized from “He’s So Fine” (or John Fogerty explaining, when sued by his old record label, how “The Old Man Down The Road” didn’t rip off his own “Run Through The Jungle” that he recorded with Creedence Clearwater Revival).

The Force 1 is scheduled to be revealed at VL’s NAIAS press conference on Jan. 12th.

A spokesman for Aston Martin declined comment. A 2015 lawsuit filed against Fisker by Aston Martin over a Fisker design he called Thunderbolt was dismissed without prejudice, which means it could be filed again.

TTAC will be well present at the the show and we’ll report back on whether or not the Force 1 was on hand — with photos of either the car or an empty space.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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14 Comments on “Fisker, Aston Martin Trade Threats, Lawsuit Over New Force 1...”


  • avatar

    Seinfeld would consider this a case of bizarro world politics, where everything is upside down. Let’s not forget that Fisker designed two of the best-looking cars of the last two decades: the Aston Vantage V8 and the Artega.

  • avatar
    BigOldChryslers

    Honestly, automakers have been plagiarizing design ideas from each other since forever, especially when the actual designer does work for different companies over time. When it comes to concept cars, the copying is even more rampant.

    Did Chrysler sue GM over the Chevy HHR versus the PT Cruiser, both designed by Bryan Nesbitt? Did Ford sue Chrysler over the ’64 Imperial versus the Lincoln Continental, both designed by Elwood Engel?

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Aston might have a better case if they’d sued Ford for cloning their grill, much the same way JC Whitney used to put Rolls Royce radiator shells on VW Beetles.

    The Z-line defense seems to only be useful for the driver side of the sketch, where it seems to have been drawn on as an afterthought. These people deserve each other.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Industrial designers live and die by nuance.

    I think the differences depicted in the sketches exonerate Fisker. Those differences really matter.

    But as CJinSD says, these people deserve each other. Fisker will never sell Force 1s or whatever, and if Aston Martin’s future car line is all going to resemble the DB-10, then they have problems of their own.

    Internet sketches aside, it would help the court to look at the design patents filed by each side. If Aston didn’t specifically cover certain details, they may not have a case.

  • avatar
    callmeishmael

    Hmmm; four wheels, seats, an engine, a steering wheel. I’m suing because both cars have obviously ripped off their basic concepts from the autocross car (Known as the Cupcake Pan) we built in High School back in 1964. And, if they’re using composites, I have them again. We made a horrible looking fiberglass body for the thing when we discovered that we were utterly incapable of making it out of aluminum. It looked like a Lotus 11 that had gone through its own windscreen.

  • avatar
    Silence

    I hope they settle this amicably, because I can’t wait to see a Force 1 with a GM four banger rattling away under the hood.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    These British brands just love to think everyone’s copying them. First it was Bentley yelling at Lincoln, now it’s Aston yelling at Fisker.

    The difference here is that the Lincoln will be a real car, but the Fisker will not. Aston, let it go – you’re reaching here.

    • 0 avatar
      callmeishmael

      I can’t blame the Brits for being touchy. Who can forget the early wave of Morris Minor lookalikes or the following wave of Vauxhall Vixen-inspired muscle cars?

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Speaking of cool designs, the Lotus Carlton is now eligible for importation into the US under the 25-year rule.

        • 0 avatar
          callmeishmael

          Despite having owned and maintained a number of them, I still have a soft spot for British cars. Any Lotus Carlton will fetch a premium in the US. Don’t know if we Californians will be able to enjoy them though.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I think the Opel Omega was the Continental Euro version with LHD. Not sure if it was available in the same sports tuning though.

  • avatar
    Ol Shel

    Back at car design school, one wise instructor noted that every designer has one single design she/he is forever trying to realize.

    It’s pretty obvious that Fisker keeps producing his one best idea.

    But, I do like his scissors…


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