Here is the perfect way to fight a brewing PR disaster from boiling over: Fire your CEO! Fisker Automotive named the former head of the Chevy Volt, Tony Posawatz, as CEO today, “marking the second time the green car start-up has replaced its top executive this year,” as Reuters can’t help to remark.
Henry Ford was no gifted artist, yet he made a car worthy of the common man. William Durant didn’t especially like cars, but created a marketing and distribution empire that inspired us all. And while Henrik Fisker’s car-centric life isn’t fully wikipedia’d, the first creation of the company that bears his name is an object of wonder and inspiration. The Fisker Karma, like every concept from any auto show, is a dream car: flaws and compromises intact.
The investigation into a Texas house fire that apparently started in a 2 month old Fisker Karma continues, with an EV expert weighing in with his opinion that the packaging of the combustion engine that drives the Fisker’s generator was likely the cause of the fire, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration saying it is looking into the incident, and the car’s owner and his attorneys firing back after Fisker initially implied there might be fraud or foul play.
One of my Transportation Design teachers insisted that cars were just like restaurants: success depends on proportion, proportion, proportion! And while the mere thought of his lectures makes me want to vomit in terror, the dude is right: cars need to be perfectly proportioned to prove a point. And my goodness, the Fisker Karma is just that. Put another way…
A123 Systems will be replacing battery packs built at their Livonia, Michigan plant that contain prismatic cells – the same type used in the Fisker Karma. The recall is estimated to cost A123 about $55 million. The defective batteries are linked to the recent problems experienced by Fisker Karma owners, according to A123 CEO David Vieau.
Consumer Reports has their Fisker Karma back from the dealership, and has finally been able to get their driving impressions. The folks at CR are apparently being cautious with their new six-figure sports sedan, for fear that another breakdown could happen far from home, rather than within their compound.
Yesterday, we could report that the fickle Fisker that embarrassingly broke down in Consumer Reports’ driveway, received a new battery, under warranty. Now we hear that it was no breakdown. The Fisker Karma shut itself down intentionally to prevent bigger damage.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the principals of a private equity firm that has raised a significant amount of the private financing for Fisker Automotive, says Crain’s Chicago Business. Though nothing on the public record has tied the investigation with Fisker, the National Legal and Policy Center, a politically right of center think tank, points out that the commission has recommended administrative proceedings “in connection with a private offering in 2009”. Advanced Equities has been raising private investment funds for Fisker since at least 2009. They established Clean Tech LLC in 2010, which is 40% invested in Fisker, and in Feb. 2011, they invested an additional $150 million in the automaker.
Consumer Reports recently bought a Fisker Karma, which ended up breaking down in the driveway of their vehicle testing facility.
Today’s a big day for beleaguered automaker Fisker. The company announced that former Chrysler CEO Tom Lasorda would be joining the company as its new CEO, after joining Fisker’s board in December.
Fisker Automotive has laid off a total of 66 people, including 20 at a former GM plant in Delaware, and another 40 contractors in California. The layoffs come as Fisker attempts to re-negotiate loans from the Department of Energy that were contingent on Fisker meeting sales targets for its Karma sedan, which Fisker failed to do.
In the ramp-up to the launch of the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf, a great debate seized the engineering community: was Nissan opening itself to problems by not including a active thermal management system for the Leaf’s battery pack, or was Chevrolet’s liquid-cooled approach simply adding unnecessary complexity? Well, thus far, the verdict seems to be in Nissan’s favor. Though Leaf has been troubled by some dissatisfaction with its real-world range, the Volt has endurd the first technical semi-scandal of the plug-in era, when federal regulators found that ruptured coolant lines could cause fires. Now the liquid-cooled approach is hitting its second challenge, as Fisker’s battery supplier A123 Systems is warning in a letter [ PDF] that
some of the battery packs we produce for Fisker Automotive could have a potential safety issue relating to the battery cooling system.
Ever since the messy collapse of solar panel maker Solyndra just two years after it received over half a billion dollars in government loans, the political climate around all green energy loan programs has heated up considerably. As the White House opened an investigation of the Department of Energy’s entire loan portfolio, loan recipients and startup automakers Tesla and Fisker found themselves under attack. And why not? Fledging firms with unproven products in brutal, scale-driven industries are hardly safe bets, even in the best of times. And with the government drowning in deficits, who’s in a gambling mood?
What gets left out in the hue and cry is that Tesla and Fisker between them represent “only” about a billion dollars worth of DOE loans in a program that was supposed to be able to loan out $25b (the final tally could be closer to $18b). Dwarfing the half-billion-each investments in Fisker, Tesla, and Solyndra are projects that seem a lot less risky in contrast to the startups. Here, in Smyrna, TN, I got to see one of them being built.
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- Golden2husky Cash for clunkers was a horrible waste of resources. "Car dealers are asset rich and cash poor. Cash flow is something we look at every single day in a car dealership," she continued. "What if that $200,000 the government owes me is the same time I have a big payroll, and I have floorplan to pay off and, oh, it's tax time? All of a sudden, the dealer is in a cash crunch."Oh, my heart is just breaking for them...and with all that ADM, they can go screw themselves...they should have a line of credit. Use it.
- Sgeffe How much of a current draw is one of those digital plates?
- Ajla I had a chance to drive a few Toyota/Lexus products the last two weeks. The turbo-4 is basically charmless. I don't see much reason to go for it over the over the 2.5L or a HSD hybrid. Maybe if you live at higher elevation?The "HybridMax" is interesting. The stronger rear motor gives it more of a RWD feel. It isn't a sporty powertrain but was reasonably smooth and powerful.
- MaintenanceCosts A fair deal would be a single tier with at least a 33% raise for everyone over the life of the contract to make up for recent inflation and quite a few below-inflation years.Retiree health benefits and pensions are ridiculous, could legitimately bankrupt the automakers (unlike the raise), and shouldn't be in the deal.I'd really like to see the union accept a bit less cash and go after the 32-hour workweek harder. I think all of our society would be better on a four-day-a-week schedule, with little if any loss of output - business after business has found that people are more productive with four-day schedules, and almost everyone who tries it keeps it.
- Jordan Mulach Hey Matt, this story has already been uncovered as not being the Camry update. Toyota US actually took independent digital renders and used them.You can see more about it from the artist here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CxmR8idB9C3/?img_index=1