Fisker Looks to Turn the Page, Resume Karma Production
by Zach McDonald | HybridCars.com
After a 2012 rife with bad news, 2013 could offer a new beginning for Fisker. Recent news reports indicate that the company is currently the object of a bidding contest between two Chinese car giants capable of investing the money necessary to bring its second car, the Fisker Atlantic to market.
In the meantime, CEO Henrik Fisker is focused on the carmaker’s first product, the Fisker Karma, which has been out of production for more than seven months after deals with its assembler Valmet Automotive and battery supplier A123 systems went sour. In the case of A123, Fisker was unfortunate enough to have its supplier go bankrupt even as orders for the car remain unfilled.
A123 Systems was recently acquired by another Chinese company, Wanxiang Group, which is currently in talks with Fisker to resume supply of the Karma’s battery pack. The carmaker recently said that production will resume on the Karma “fairly soon.”
Perhaps in anticipation of that event, Mr. Fisker has been out promoting the Karma of late, making appearances at auto shows and sitting down with Autoblog Green for an extended interview. In it, Fisker confirms that his company has sold “close to 2,000 cars” to date, a number that he admits is a disappointment under the company’s old business plan but healthy under its current outlook.
“I have to say honestly, I felt like the first six months of , every time you saw one problem, there was another one coming. Then came the Presidential debates. It just didn’t stop,” Fisker told Autoblog. Fisker said his company has adjusted its model to reflect a slower timetable for its next vehicle, and is now focused on building its brand through the Karma
For Fisker, part of that effort involves personally connecting with. “If you own a Mercedes, you can’t go have dinner with Mr. Benz, because he isn’t around any more,” Fisker said. “But you can have dinner with Henrik, maybe, at some special events we’re doing. Even with our current customers, because we see them as brand ambassadors, I have had dinner or breakfast with at least 500 of them.”
Moving forward, Fisker said he likes his company’s chances. “I think we have a big advantage that our vehicles are already ready for some of the things that are happening in the future, whether that’s higher taxes in Europe on CO2 emissions, whether it’s 2025 fuel economy standards–we are the only luxury car with a gasoline engine that fulfills these standards.”
It remains to be seen when Fisker’s real “make or break” car, the Atlantic, will finally be released—or where it will be produced. Still, Fisker has been on its new path for more than a year and a half now, and as the company patiently waits for the investment it needs to move forward with the Atlantic it has had the time to restructure and adjust its goals. Once Karma production finally does restart, the central goal will be to expand its sales markets and grow the list of 2,000-some “ambassadors” Fisker has so far attracted.