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.
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.”
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