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Back From the Dead: New Cars from Fisker

How did Fisker Automotive turn things around?

By Audrey Davis
December 10 2021
The debut of Fisker’s new Ocean EV SUV. Courtesy of Fisker Inc. 

Henrik Fisker doesn’t seem like the type to give up easily. He’s fought off lawsuits, buyouts, competitors and more to remain a maverick figure in the automotive world. Most recently, he launched a new all-electric SUV at the Los Angeles Auto Show – but how did he get to that point? 

The man himself: Henrik Fisker. Courtesy of Fisker, Inc. 

A little under a decade ago, it seemed like his namesake company, Fisker Automotive, was finished. Within the last few years though, we’ve heard rumblings that new models were on the way – with some changes. Well, for one thing, the company isn’t called Fisker Automotive anymore – it’s Fisker Inc., a barely perceptible but significant change that will mark a fresh start for CEO Henrik Fisker. You see, the Danish-born automotive designer hasn’t exactly had a smooth ride to the top of the industry, and he still has a long way to go before he catches up to EV competitors like Tesla. But despite the controversies he’s been involved in, Henrik Fisker is still a visionary entrepreneur, and the electric cars he’s known for are only one piece of the puzzle. 

Fisker began his long career in the automotive industry at BMW in the late 1980’s, where his most iconic design was the daring BMW Z8. He later moved on to Aston Martin, where he served as a board member and part of the design team in the early 2000’s. But his relationship with the British luxury brand turned sour in 2016, when Fisker sued Aston Martin for a whopping $100 million dollars – and all because Aston Martin threatened to sue him first. In a letter sent to Fisker prior to the 2016 Detroit Auto Show, Aston Martin urged him not to display a new car called The Force 1, claiming it too closely resembled their designs. Fisker later dismissed the lawsuit, but he showed some pretty remarkable hubris by filing one to begin with, especially since Aston Martin had already sued him once before over potential copyright infringement on a different car. If your head is spinning with all of these legal proceedings flying back and forth, you’re not alone. 

The Force 1 was launched by a partnership called VLF at 2016’s Detroit Auto Show. Shutterstock 

In the auto industry, it’s difficult to start your own company when you’ve burned a bridge with your past employer: just ask John DeLorean. But Fisker moved forward with determination, founding Fisker Automotive in 2007 and unveiling the Fisker Karma EV only a year later. Unfortunately, when the car finally hit the market after missing several production deadlines, it was plagued by faulty parts, buggy technology, and poorly thought-out design. Was this the failure that would end Fisker’s career for good? 

The Fisker Ocean EV SUV. Courtesy of Fisker, Inc. 

Not exactly. The Karma didn’t even disappear for that long, resurfacing in 2014 after the Wanxiang Group in China purchased the rights to the name. And as for Fisker himself, he has decided to rethink his strategy as he moves on to his newest endeavor. Fisker Inc.’s new Ocean SUV will be much lower in price than the Karma ever was, which may help the new company break out of a crowded EV market that’s dominated by luxury. If anyone can do it, Henrik Fisker can, a determined CEO who has moved forward for decades despite near-constant setbacks. You might not like his designs or his business practices, but you must admire his chutzpah. 

Related: Nissan's Newest Designs: Stepping It Up From A To Z




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