With the recent news that Fisker Automotive is looking at bankruptcy, the next obvious step, aside from selling off assets, is to figure out who is to blame.
Fisker Automotive and A123 Systems could be inextricably linked in the minds of investors and politicians, seeing as A123 was the sole supplier of advanced lithium-ion battery packs for the Fisker Karma extended-range electric vehicle. After A123 Systems went under last year, Fisker executives started pointing the finger in their direction. As a matter of fact, Fisker hasn’t made a single vehicle since last July, which was actually a few months before A123 declared bankruptcy.
For three months, Fisker wasn’t making any vehicles while A123 couldn’t sell its batteries? Was there any communication going on here? Fisker points out there were some defects in A123’s batteries. As far as I can tell, there are two problems here. First, Fisker putting all its eggs in one basket. There are a number of companies manufacturing lithium-ion batteries, and yet Fisker Automotive chose only one supplier, a startup company at that. Diversify or die, Fisker.
On the other hand, A123 Systems had its own problems, expecting to sell its lithium-ion battery packs for the Fisker Karma [and future models?] as well as for the Chevy Spark EV. The demand wasn’t there, so of course the batteries were going to sit on a warehouse shelf until called for. No sales, no revenue, no business. Unfortunately, A123 Systems couldn’t hold out for Fisker Automotive to get its act together or for General Motors to finally release the Spark EV. Strangely enough, we don’t see General Motors pointing the finger at A123 for lackluster sales of the Spark EV.
Who’s to blame for Fisker Automotive’s failure? I would chalk it up to a series of unfortunate events, and not to one specific failure. A123’s bankruptcy was a major blow, but Fisker should have had more than one supplier for a major component like the lithium-ion battery pack. Weather played a big part, destroying some $1.6 million in merchandise, but then, this could have been prevented as well. I was in Perú at the time, and I knew my New Jersey belongings were in danger, so what gives, Fisker?
Perhaps the biggest failing of Fisker Automotive had to be marketing. First, the market for electric vehicles, even one as beautiful as the Karma, hasn’t started off very strong. Sure, Tesla Motors has been successful, even offering a $50,000-to-$90,000 vehicle, but how many others failed? Better Place and Coda Motors are dead in the water, and sales of big-company backed electric vehicles aren’t that great, but at least they have the rest of their lineup to support them. Fisker Automotive would have to be just another casualty of the market. I wouldn’t bother pointing fingers at anyone except for Fisker Automotive.