Fisker: It's not all bad news
Fisker: “How many U.S. auto companies have been successful penetrating any European market?”
MONTEREY, Calif. -- Fisker Automotive has its hands full with a string of bad publicity at the moment.
But co-founder and Executive Chairman Henrik Fisker says the start-up company is quietly making progress on establishing itself in other markets.
"We were the No. 2 selling four-door luxury car in the Netherlands in the first quarter of this year," he says. "And we outsold the Maserati Quattroporte globally for the first quarter."
The achievements are small given the auto industry's massive scale. But Fisker interprets them as a good start.
"How significant is that -- for a new American luxury car to outsell the BMW 7 series and Mercedes S class in any market?" he asks.
Speaking privately at a reception during the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, Fisker said he has been avoiding public comments this year as the startup copes with a slew of challenges.
Two owners recently reported fires in the $103,000, plug-in hybrid Karma. The fires are under investigation.
Fisker is also seeking more private funding after the U.S. Department of Energy suspended a $529 million government loan being used to support the development of a new model, the Atlantic sedan.
Fisker's plans to build the Atlantic at a former General Motors plant in Wilmington, Del., have also been jeopardized without the government funds.
The company also just changed CEOs for the second time in five months when Tom LaSorda handed the reins to Tony Posawatz, who recently retired from GM after leading the Chevrolet Volt program.
Fisker said the company is dealing with the challenges, but did not go into detail.
But he said the more encouraging news was Fisker's sales results.
"How many U.S. auto companies have been successful penetrating any European market?" Fisker commented.
"We have a couple of things working in our favor in Europe," he said. "Number one is that European consumers tend to be very environmentally aware, and the Karma offers an environmental alternative to the traditional luxury vehicles there.
"Number two is that Europe itself regulates and taxes CO2 emissions, and we benefit from that," he added. "The Karma can claim lower CO2 levels than a Toyota Prius, and so we end up enjoying a retail price advantage over the Mercedes S class."
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