Have lessons been learned from the failed Karma?
A few days ago, Henrik Fisker revealed the first image of his upcoming Tesla Model Y fighter, a so far unnamed all-electric compact SUV. Fisker previously planned to launch the EMotion EV first but changed his mind because it would be wiser to sell a more affordable, $40,000 SUV prior to an expensive sedan. Bloomberg spoke recently spoke with Fisker to inquire what lessons he's learned since the disastrous tale of his first vehicle, the hybrid Fisker Karma.
Fisker admits that "lessons learned" from that experience have been applied this time around, but success is still not guaranteed. "This time we wanted to go directly to a volume segment where we can have a long-term business where you can actually make money," he said. Fisker is fully aware that SUVs are now the fastest-growing segment globally. Sedan sales, meanwhile, have largely flatlined.
"It's about partnering in the right places, not spending hundreds of millions where you don't have to. Now I have this experience and lessons learned and have figured out what is the best way to do this."
This is quite an acknowledgment and a real sense of business-minded development on Fisker's part. His previous company, Fisker Automotive, filed for bankruptcy in 2013 following production and reliability issues involving the Karma. Less than 1,800 examples were sold in the US. Chinese auto parts supplier, Wanxiang Group, purchased the defunct automaker's remaining assets in 2014.
It has since launched a re-worked Karma, now branded as the Karma Revero, which costs over $100,000. Fisker's new SUV will be powered by an 80 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, a pair of electric motors, and optional all-wheel-drive. It reportedly has a range of 300 miles on a single charge. The first prototypes are set to hit the road later this year, but some industry analysts remain skeptical. Many are unsure whether Fisker can deliver the goods based on his past and the recent change of mind to build the SUV first.
Henrik Fisker, despite his brilliant career as an automotive designer – the Aston Martin DB9 and BMW Z8 are two of his past creations – Fisker currently lacks credibility running his own car company. Hopefully, those lessons learned will be effectively applied.