Bob Lutz: I Want Fisker To Live And Succeed
Bob Lutz has come out in favor of Fisker Automotive; but in a “me first kind of way.”
Not so long ago, at the Detroit Auto Show (or NAIAS if you will), Bob and his partner, industrial Gilbert Villarreal, debuted the VL Destino; which is basically Fisker Karma.
A Fisker Karma that VL Automotive has yanked the plug-in hybrid powertrain (motor and batteries) from, then replaced it with a LS9 engine from the Chevy Corvette ZR1, a supercharged 6.2L rated at 638-hp.
If Fisker goes under, the Destino from VL Automotive goes under.
…and what does the “L” IN VL Auto stand for? Lutz.
The “father of the Volt” reflected back on Fisker’s history, and the media attention the luxury-green automaker has garnered over the past year, culminating in a federal inquiry into handling (and subsequent halting) of the company’s DoE loans last week:
“Not since the General Motors bailout or the Chevy Volt has there been so much interest in the federal government’s role in the auto industry. It’s clear that Fisker, after an auspicious debut in 2008, has burned through well over half a billion dollars in private capital and Energy Department loans. Remaining DOE funds are blocked over Fisker’s failure to meet loan covenants, and the company, which hasn’t produced a new car since the middle of last year, has laid off 75% of its of its workers and is totally out of cash. Should the federal purse strings be relaxed to give Fisker breathing space?”
Mr. Lutz offers his prediction on the future of the company, and the only way he sees it might still be successful:
“Bottom line; without a radical re-sizing of the company, closing of the California headquarters and an employee base just big enough to support the Karma (we’ll worry about the smaller Atlantic when they have some money), I don’t see any change in their future. The big Wilmington Assembly plant, sized for 300,000 cars per year, and which sank the Pontiac Solstice due to its high cost of operation, has to go. So does production of the Karma in Finland, which eats up about $10,000 per unit in transportation costs alone.”
In the end, and to his credit, Mr. Lutz is honest about the main reason he hopes Fisker will succeed.
“I want Fisker to live and succeed, if only to ensure a continuing supply of Karma bodies for my and my parter’s VL Destino, a de-electrified Karma with a Corvette drive train, for which there is brisk demand while new electric Karmas languish on the lots of disheartened Fisker dealers around the globe. Save them with more federal largesse? A tough call. Glad I don’t have to make it!”
Be sure to check out all Mr. Lutz’s comments in his column at Forbes