Wanxiang Group of China, a company that manufactures automotive components, bought Fisker Automotive last month. The company now plans to offer Fisker Karmas with V8 power, and has entered into a partnership with VL Automotive — the brainchild of former GM executive Bob Lutz and entrepreneur Gilbert Villarreal — to develop what the company calls ‘the soul of Fisker’.
When Fisker initially set out to establish the automotive company that bears his name, the product’s ‘soul’ was not a V8 engine. A lot of effort was made to not only source a suitable powertrain for the Karma – and Atlantic – but to incorporate sustainable materials in the vehicle’s construction and establish the brand’s identity as a front-runner in environmentally friendly luxury transport.
Though Wanxiang still plans to offer plug-in hybrid variations of the Karma (the company also acquired bankrupt battery supplier A123 Systems in a separate deal last year) it’s not yet clear what percentage of the vehicles will carry on Fisker’s original mission and environmentally friendly attributes.
We sat down with former Fisker design director Alexander Klatt to get his take on these developments…
“Henrik had a vision and values for what he was establishing. I consolidated this into a clear, understandable brand value set, and then also a product attribute set, so that the management team had a clear guidance of what this brand is and what we should work on,” says Klatt, who now heads the MFA Transportation Design program at the College of Creative Studies. “We focused on attributes and on disciplines, which are very relevant to the brand. It’s really a guidance program for the management.
“I would love to see this company and this brand have another chance to really accelerate.”
Klatt calls the $149 million sum Wanxiang paid to buy Fisker’s assets “pocket money” considering the high level of content acquired in the deal.
“Everything we created [at Fisker] is still sitting in the computers and on the main big server drivers. We developed all of the vehicles to a high 90% content, which was feasible. For someone picking this up, it is a treasure,” said Klatt.
“I can imagine there is a great future for Fisker Automotive, depending on what the owner wants to with it. I would just love to see this company and this brand have another chance to really accelerate. There are just so many opportunities. The solutions we created are still necessary out there in the world, and it’s still not too late to do this.”
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