The electric car brand that just won’t die: the “new” Fisker is getting ready to launch

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Earlier this year, the head of Wanxiang America, Pin Li, told me that the electric car company Fisker it had acquired out of bankruptcy would be relaunched imminently. And now it looks like they’re gearing up for just that with a website touting “the new Fisker,” a newly announced deal with auto parts maker Quantum Technologies, and discussions of a newly started search with five states in the U.S. to restart Fisker car production.

These are all very initial and early steps to restarting production of Fisker’s first car, the Karma, and its planned second car, the Atlantic. The deal with Quantum is for licensing software for the relaunch of the Karma, which can be expanded to the Atlantic, and Fisker also has an option to acquire joint-ownership of the software.

Row of Fisker Karmas

Row of Fisker Karmas, image courtesy of Fisker.

The original Fisker Karmas (the 2,000 or so that were made) were manufactured in Finland by Finnish auto manufacturer Valmet Automotive, while the Atlantic was supposed to be built in a facility in Delaware (it was never shipped commercially). Li told me earlier this year that Wanxiang would be talking to and potentially working with Valmet for restarting production of the Karma in Finland.

But now it sounds like Wanxiang and Fisker might want to build the Karma in the U.S. Fisker President Roger Brown tells local media that they’re not sure if they’ll use the Delaware facility or not.

Quantum was Fisker’s original partner on the Karma, and Fisker originally used Quantum’s drivetrain technology for the Karma. But this relationship was one reason why Fisker appeared somewhat vulnerable, because its core car tech was based on another company’s technology. In contrast Tesla has invested heavily in its own electric car technology wrapped around small commodity batteries, and it has been selling this tech to auto makers like Toyota and Daimler.

It’s unclear to me if the Fisker brand is strong enough to be successfully relaunched a second time around. The original Karma was plagued with problems including software glitches and faulty batteries from A123 Systems (which is now owned by Wanxiang, too). If you’re not familiar with the Fisker saga before this new chapter, check out this indepth story: A look under the hood — why electric car maker Fisker crashed and burned.

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Red Sage

The Fisker Karma was a beautiful car, and the Atlantic promised to be even more so. I do wonder if the current owners are committed to building electric cars though. The original vision was for the use of a hybrid drivetrain, driven by electricity, but with an onboard gasoline powere generator to provide ‘extended range’. There was a recent report of a third party that had licensed the body design for the Karma, but replaced the drivetrain with a V8, with no electric components at all. The world has enough big bloks and hybrids. It is well past time that a fully electric vehicle platform was embraced by all automobile manufacturers.

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