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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Interesting (and unfortunate) read... especially for those of us that work in this complex industry called Autos.

Eversince Fisker came about, I always wondered who they'd hire to lead the start-up through the processes and challenges of designing, engineering, sourcing, validating, manufacturing, and selling a car... in such a mature market as our's. Evidently they had too many financial types and not enough industry-specific discipline types. And too much design ego from the man himself.

What's a shame is that some of the basic formulas they had (like sourcing a lot of engineering and MFG from Valment... or the innovative driveunit) were plausible.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/17/us-autos-fisker-specialreport-idUSBRE95G02L20130617



By Deepa Seetharaman and Paul Lienert

DETROIT | Mon Jun 17, 2013 1:58am EDT



(Reuters) - Danish designer Henrik Fisker knows how to style a sexy car. Among his works is the BMW Z8, driven by James Bond in "The World Is Not Enough," where the sleek roadster gets sliced in two by a helicopter armed with giant saws.

Fisker's latest piece of rolling sculpture is the comely Fisker Karma hybrid sports sedan — and it may meet an equally ugly end.

The Dane's startup, Fisker Automotive, hasn't built a car in nearly a year. It fired most of its workforce, hired bankruptcy advisers and is seeking a buyer. Co-founder Henrik Fisker resigned in mid-March in a dispute with some of the directors. And despite raising $1.4 billion in private and public funds since its founding in 2007, the company is out of cash. For months, key investors have been footing the car maker's day-to-day expenses to keep it alive in diminished form.

An examination of the company's rise and fall reveals Fisker's finances started to unravel as early as June 2011, when the U.S. Department of Energy cut off access to taxpayer-funded loans — a fact that wasn't publicly acknowledged by Fisker for nine months.

That and other troubling information remained unknown by many of Fisker's private-sector investors, who put $525 million into the company from May 2011 through August 2012, attracted by rosy sales forecasts and assurances the company valued itself at nearly $2 billion.

"One characteristic of businesses that are in trouble like this is, as the desperation increases, they tend to bend the story a little," said David Cole, a longtime auto consultant and former head of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
A lot more at link.

---------------------------

But wait! There's more...

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/17/us-autos-fisker-china-idUSBRE95G03420130617
 

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There is a ton of automotive wisdom and talking points in this article. From a design/design engineering perspective, what is striking is the lack of---communication and standardized ofprocess during key development stages of this project. Hard lessons to learn, but dreamers at the top needs a lot of strategic car guys to balance them out a bit IMO.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
There is a ton of automotive wisdom and talking points in this article. From a design/design engineering perspective, what is striking is the lack of---communication and standardized ofprocess during key development stages of this project. Hard lessons to learn, but dreamers at the top needs a lot of strategic car guys to balance them out a bit IMO.
Exactemente.

Not to toot horns, but every time a car start-up comes out, I pray, "Lordy, please make them hire some industry people and not assume it is like building a kit car." Too many outsiders just don't appreciate the depth of the work involved... and it's not like it doesn't share aspects/disciplines of many other industries, but it does bring it together into a BIG MACHINE, which automatically means BIG INVESTMENT DOLLARS TO MAINTAIN/SUSTAIN OPERATION. And all of that means experienced folks to plan, implement, run.

I think it became obvious that they were hurting when they hired a newly-retired Volt executive just last year. He probably regretted retiring for that.

For the past decade worth of car start-ups big and small, I recall a lot of proclamations like, "We're not going to do it the old, Detroit way. We have better ways. New ways. Out of the box ways that won't leave us broken like Detroit is." :facepalm: All I could do was wish them the best and hope they actually find a way, because I've always wanted NEW companies to develop new types of vehicles... in novel ways... to help my industry.
 

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It seems that Fisker was born from arrogance rather than true passion for designing and manufacturing cars, and ultimately that sealed their fate. You design the car once (figuratively speaking), but you have to manufacture it thousands of times. Ignoring to focus on key areas like supply chain, and thinking you'll just outsource that to someone else is a recipe for disaster in any industry. Had they been more humble from the onset, they might have avoided some of those mistakes and listen to the advice they were given.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
It seems that Fisker was born from arrogance rather than true passion for designing and manufacturing cars, and ultimately that sealed their fate. You design the car once (figuratively speaking), but you have to manufacture it thousands of times. Ignoring to focus on key areas like supply chain, and thinking you'll just outsource that to someone else is a recipe for disaster in any industry. Had they been more humble from the onset, they might have avoided some of those mistakes and listen to the advice they were given.
I've always found it funny how you can find some much arrogance in so many disciplines... be it Design or Engineering or Purchasing or Logistics or Manufacturing or Marketing or Sales... in any industry. You'd think choosing a leader would be as simple as finding the visionary/motivator that can appreciate ALL disciplines and guide them to work together to find the best balance.

It always seemed to me that Fisker's background in ID and his relative prominence gave him too much ego when pushing for his EXACT design. You'd think those tasked to be the check & balance to his power (and his co-conspirator investor chief)... the BoD... would have known better themselves having supposedly great amounts of business talents themselves. Either none of them had any clue about Autos and/or they merely assumed he had enough. It's their job to make sure he hires enough people of each discipline... to assure success... or minimize risks.

It almost makes me furious that a startup with this kind of investor funding squandered it all. Even without the A123 challenges they still seemed like they lacked the leadership to work themselves through the process... from start to finish.

It will be interesting to see how Tesla does in the next ~5 years.
 
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