The Truth About Cars » henrik fisker The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 16 Jul 2014 14:00:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » henrik fisker Henrik Fisker & Fisker Directors Sued by Investor Tue, 31 Dec 2013 13:02:01 +0000 henrik-fisker-at-house-oversight-committee-hearing

Company founder Henrik Fisker and Fisker Automotive Inc.’s former directors have been sued in a Delaware court by an investor. Atlas Capital Management LP blames the defendants for over $2 million in losses it allegedly suffered when the now bankrupt hybrid car startup failed. According to the lawsuit filed Dec. 27 in U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Fisker allegedly misled investors by failing to disclose problems the company knew it was having with a government loan and by keeping a 2011 safety recall secret from potential investors.

In the filing, Atlas said that if it had known the truth about the situation, it “would not have purchased or otherwise acquired its Fisker securities, or, if it had purchased such securities, it would not have done so at the artificially inflated prices which it paid.”

Fisker Automotive filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 22, listing assets of as much as $500 million and debt of as much as $1 billion in papers filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. Against those figures, $2 million seems like it’s not a big deal, but Atlas Capital is not the only investment firm that put money into Fisker. Fisker is in the process of selling its remaining assets to Hybrid Tech Holdings LLC.

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Just What Assets Does Fisker Have to Buy? Sat, 12 Oct 2013 13:30:16 +0000 The Fisker Karma's battery pack and drivetrain, supplied by Quantum Technologies

The Fisker Karma’s battery pack and drivetrain, supplied by Quantum Technologies

The Department of Energy today is auctioning off the paper for the $192 million it loaned to Fisker Automotive as part of the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program. An obvious question is why would anyone want to buy that debt? Many of the press reports about the sale say that by purchasing the debt, a buyer could ultimately gain control of Fisker’s assets including intellectual property, like the extended range hybrid drivetrain and controls thereof. While Fisker may indeed have assets with some value, I’m not sure that anyone’s going to spend at least $30 million, the minimum bid required by the DoE, to be able to duplicate the Fisker Karma’s drivetrain.

I can understand why Bob Lutz, either participating or not with Wanxiang, would want access to the Karma’s design as he’s apparently had no problem selling every LS9 powered Destino, based on the Karma, that he and his business partners have been able to build. Henrik Fisker is a talented designer so it wouldn’t be too surprising if the Fisker Karma survives the Fisker car company. The Karma could become a latter day Graham-Paige Hollywood or Nate Altman era Avanti II. For their part, Wanxiang might prefer that Fisker stays intact and resumes production. Wanxiang already bought battery maker A123, which supplied the Karma, so they have an interest in keeping the startup automaker alive.

Quantum Aggressor, which features a hybrid drivetrain

Quantum Aggressor, which features a hybrid drivetrain

It’s conceivably possible that if Fisker owned something novel in the way of electric drivetrains or control systems for EVs and hybrids, that might be a way of acquiring the latest EV or hybrid tech on the cheap.  Control systems for hybrids are not inexpensive to develop. Seamlessly integrating gasoline engines and electric motors is not easy. At the recent Toyota Hybrid World Tour, the point was made that software was the most expensive part of the Prius’ development. For pure electric vehicles, motor control, regenerative systems and battery management all require complex software to operate properly. To save money on EV development, Toyota itself has a partnership with Tesla, who provide motors and battery packs for the electric version of the RAV4. Still, I have to wonder if Fisker Automotive owns any EV or hybrid technology that’s worth risking $30 million. That’s because Fisker doesn’t own the technology behind the Karma’s drivetrain.


Quantum Aggressor’s “Q Force” drivetrain, note the similarities to the Karma’s “Q-Drive”

Fisker itself doesn’t own much in the way of EV or hybrid technology. Fisker’s “Q-Drive” serial hybrid drivetrain was developed and exclusively supplied by Fisker partner Quantum Technologies. As a matter of fact, Fisker Automotive came into being as the result of a chance meeting at a Range Rover dealership between Henrik Fisker and Quantum Technologies CEO Alan Niedzwiecki, which led to a lunch for the two men in early 2007. General Motors had just announced the concept for the Chevy Volt, which for the most part operates as a serial hybrid, electric drive plus a range extending on-board gasoline engine to drive a generator to power the electric motors. Quantum had developed a similar drivetrain for the U.S. military. When Henrik Fisker told Niedzwiecki of his plans to design gasoline cars built in China, the Quantum CEO said, “Why don’t you design a car around my drivetrain?” Fisker responded by saying “Let’s start a company!”

Quantum was the exclusive supplier of the Karma’s drivetrain, which uses a GM sourced Ecotec four cylinder gasoline engine to power the car’s generator. A Quantum affiliate also supplied Fisker with the photovoltaic roof on the Karma, that kept the parked car ventilated on sunny days and theoretically could extend range on sunny days by a few miles.

As a result of all of this, it’s unlikely that anyone could put the Karma back into production without the active cooperation of Quantum. It’s also unlikely that anyone is going to risk $30 million to have access to technology that another company owns and controls.

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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Fisker’s Dept of Energy Loan to be Auctioned Off Today Fri, 11 Oct 2013 19:39:06 +0000 atvm-550x472

The United States Department of Energy will today auction off Fisker Automotive’s loan from the federal government, on which the moribund hybrid car startup defaulted. Last month the department said that it would hold the auction after “exhausting any realistic possibility” that it could recoup all of the $168 million still that Fisker still owes.


Purchasing the debt could be the first step to revive Fisker, which hasn’t built any cars in over a year. The company hasn’t yet gone through bankruptcy, as investors are covering its day to day expenses, but it cannot pay millions of dollars in outstanding bills and it has laid off most of its employees. Company founder designer Henrik Fisker, resigned last March, citing differences of opinion on the company’s future.

Though the federal government is currently undergoing a partial shutdown, the auction will proceed as planned today.Bidders had until Monday of this week to tell the DoE that they planned to make an offer. To qualify to bid, potential buyers had to offer at least $30 million, with a mandatory 10% down payment when placing the bid. That would be the least part of restarting Fisker, which analysts say could cost a half billion dollars or more. Fisker Automotive and the law firm handling its restructuring, Kirkland & Ellis, could not be reached for comment.

The winner of the bid process could be named as soon as next week. The DoE originally extended Fisker a credit line of $528 million under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program in 2009, but the department froze it in mid 2011 after Fisker failed to meet production benchmarks specified in the loan. Of the $528 million allocated, Fisker drew down $192 million before the freeze.

So far this year, at least three possible buyers of Fisker have surfaced. German investment group Fritz Nols AG, according to sources, was one of the companies that submitted a bid to the DoE. Another team that includes Bob Lutz and Chinese auto supplier Wanxiang Group also submitted a bid. That group had previously tried to buy the entire company for $20 million. It’s not clear if that attempt is related to VL Automotive, an enterprise of Lutz’s that’s selling the Destino, a Fisker Karma whose hybrid drivetrain has been replaced by a supercharged LS9 V8 as used in the Corvette ZR1. It’s also been rumored that Henrik Fisker might try to purchase the remains of his namesake company.

Buying the DoE loan would be just the first step in a long process to revive the company. Fisker currently owes suppliers about $80 million, including about $10 million owed to Valmet Automotive, a Finnish company that assembled the Karma under contract. Analysts say that restarting Karma production would cost at least $50 million and reviving the development of the Atlantic, Fisker’s proposed $50,000 sedan, would cost about half a billion dollars.

Any purchaser would also have to settle Fisker’s outstanding debts related to the former General Motors assembly plant in Wilmington, Delaware where Fisker planned to build the Atlantic. The company owes about a million dollars in various local taxes and because it missed a deadline to pay, the company has forfeited a break on future county property taxes.

At the time this was posted, ~3:00 PM EST, there has been no news released about the auction results. The Department of Energy’s public affairs office is still operating during the partial government shutdown, TTAC has contacted that office, and we’ll update this post if they release any information by the close of business today.

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Henrik Fisker Called, He Wants His Company Back Fri, 24 May 2013 17:05:01 +0000 Henrik Fisker - Picture courtesy

Henrik Fisker paired up with Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li to get his company back. Fisker is a co-founder of severely troubled Fisker Automotive. Li and Fisker are trying to buy the U.S. government loan to Fisker at a big discount. Henrik Fisker was ousted in March.

Another group, China’s Wanxiang with Bob Lutz as a friendly face, is trying to buy Fisker for $20 million.

Around Fisker Automotive hangs a $171 million loan payable to the DOE. The DOE is currently looking into the legal ramifications of selling the loan, Reuters heard. Last month, the DOE seized $21 million from Fisker’s bank account to apply against the first priority loan. Then, there are payables to suppliers.

Just-Auto recently wrote, and I wholeheartedly agree:

“As any rational person in the industry understands, the odds of any automaking start-up succeeding in the long run are about the equivalent of winning the national lottery: it could, statistically, happen, but in reality, it almost certainly won’t. In fact, you might say that starting a firm to make automobiles in hopes of building the company into a global brand is a task mostly for masochists and the deluded.”


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The Fisker Saga, Courtesy of GigaOM Fri, 17 May 2013 17:20:23 +0000  


Most of our readers probably already know the broad strokes of the Fisker story. If you’re interested in the finer details of the history of the extended range EV company that appears to be circling the drain, GigaOM, a site that covers the investment side of tech companies, has published a fairly comprehensive 4,000 word look back at Fisker by Katie Fehrenbacher.

While the ~$200 million that Fisker received in Dept. of Energy loans has gotten a bit of attention, that’s only a small fraction of the $1 billion plus that the EV startup burned through since 2007. The bulk of that money came from venture capital firms like Kleiner Perkins as well as private investors.

Fehrenbacher’s been covering Fisker from the beginning and for this article she conducted a dozen recent interviews with individuals at the heart of the Fisker story. The focus is primarily on the financing, but she also goes into Fisker’s business model for building cars, like the curious fact that the company paid up front for 15,000 cars’ worth of components from suppliers, though it only assembled about 2,000 Karmas.

They also apparently paid BMW at least something in advance for the engines Fisker was going to be using on its second model, the Nina/Atlantic, though production on that car wasn’t going to start for years. Fehrenbacher also described the company as top heavy with experienced auto industry executives, many of them highly compensated refugees from Detroit.

As they say, read the whole thing here.

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 dig deeper 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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Henrik Fisker Pulls The Chute Wed, 13 Mar 2013 17:27:12 +0000

Henrik Fisker has resigned from the automobile firm that bears his name, as the company’s future looks to be headed towards an inexorable buyout by a Chinese auto maker.

Fisker sent an email to Automotive News outlining his decision to resign

“The main reasons for his resignation are several major disagreements that Henrik Fisker has with the Fisker Automotive executive management on the business strategy.”

Comments by Fisker CEO Tony Posawatz seemed to confirmed that Fisker was negotiating with a Chinese partner, likely Geely, to take over the auto maker. Fisker is looking for additional funding to help launch their second model, the smaller Atlantic sedan.

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