Fisker founder to appear before Congress for DOE loan testimony

Article by Anita Panait, on April 25, 2013

Fisker Automotive founder Henrik Fisker is set to go before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on April 24, 2013, where he is expected to label the troubled carmaker as a victim of "a confluence of events" and as a still-salvageable enterprise, according to Tim Burt, the founder’s personal representative.

Fisker is one of the representatives from the carmaker and the government set to appear before Congress to answer questions concerning $193 million in United States Department of Energy loans provided to the carmaker.

According to Burt, Fisker will say that the carmaker "can survive and move forward if it can secure financial and strategic resources, to build on its achievements so far." Fisker will focus his testimony on events that were out of the carmaker’s control, including adverse publicity regarding its two recalls and suspicious fires.

Burt, managing partner at StockWell Group, remarked that the recalls and suspicious fires were a function of "parts sourced from outside suppliers” and as such, they have nothing to do with the technology. Those adverse events combined with the collapse of key battery supplier A123 Systems, as well as the wipeout of Fisker's port stock of completed cars by Superstorm Sandy "led to a drastic loss of revenue," Burt remarked.

Tony Knight, of crisis communications firm Sitrick and Co., remarked that it is his understanding that current Fisker Automotive chief executive Tony Posawatz will not appear before Congress since he was still not with the carmaker when the DOE loan was offered or drawn down.

Knight disclosed that Fisker co-founder Bernhard Koehler will be its representative. Fisker Automotive has been considered on the verge of filing for bankruptcy, especially after it laid off three-fourths of its workforce on April 5, 2013. Fisker also has been consulting with bankruptcy firm Kirkland & Ellis.

In developing the Karma, Fisker Automotive utilized its very own principle known as Sustainable and Accountable Design. Through this new model, the company hopes that it will signify the emotional leap forward not just for Fisker but also for the whole auto industry.

Then again, this is the first car to come from Fisker. Fisker revealed that they used this philosophy given that they understand that when it comes to manufacturing cars, it takes a lot of energy and even more resource. This is not limited to the actual manufacturing but begins during the development stage, all the way to marketing, and even includes the disposal.

Being a new company, Fisker is faced with the great opportunity of starting from scratch. Indeed, it also means that the company will have the chance to make the process even better and present a new outlook regarding what customers worldwide can expect from the automakers. Through the Karma, Fisker is showing that it hopes to become the automaker that is truly committed when it comes to accountability and sustainability.

To do this, the company said it will look for ways to lower any impact it may have on the environment, which includes reducing the carbon footprint, while at the same time increasing the efficiency.

This is to be done not on a specific stage but for the whole value chain. The Karma, as well as future models Fisker will be releasing, is projected to be sold and serviced using a network of independent and established retailers with the accompanying reputation. In the U.S. for instance, Fisker has identified a total of 45 locations. A similar number of retailers is expected for the market in Europe.

Regarding the retail network to be put up in Europe, Fisker revealed it will be managed by various importing companies. These include Nellemann which is based in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Emil Frey Group from Zurich, Switzerland.

Fisker Italia, which is in Merano, Italy, will also be part of the network. Rounding up Fisker’s presence in Europe is BD Otomotive, headquartered in Istanbul, Turkey. The company is also setting its sights on China and it has already inked with China Grand Automotive a non-exclusive distribution agreement in December 2010 in Shanghai.

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