Car designer and entrepreneur Henrik Fisker made his name in the car industry designing the highest of the high-end luxury cars for BMW and Aston Martin. After making waves in the auto industry with vehicles such as the Aston Martin DB9, Aston Martin V8 Vantage and BMW Z8, he decided to break away from this corner of the auto world imbued with tradition and start his own company, Fisker Automotive. Fisker’s first vehicle to hit the road has been the Karma, an impressively green, extended range electric vehicle with so many curves, your eyes are already driving it before you’ve even gotten behind the wheel. Coming in as loud and clear as the Karma’s sex appeal, Henrik Fisker is on a mission to make green cars cool. We recently had a chance to talk to him about how he’s risen to the top of the electric vehicle pack, and where he plans on taking his cars from there.
Fisker Automotive was founded by Fisker and Bernhard Koehler in 2007 and the Fisker Karma was the first car they brought to the market. The vehicle was just awarded an impressive rating of 112 mpg by the European rating agency Technischer Üeberwachungs Verein (TÜV). The car has an all-electric range of up to 50 miles after which a gasoline generator kicks in to run the engine and drives the car another 250 miles. The Karma has a Nanophosphate Lithium-ion Battery pack that charges in 6-14 hours — depending on the type of charger you are using — and has a solar paneled roof that provides energy to drive the car an additional 200 miles annually. The car uses regenerative breaking and is painted with a special diamond dust paint that uses recycled glass elements and releases no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the environment.
In addition the car packs 403 horsepower under the hood, can go from 0 to 60 in 6.3 seconds and tops out at 125 miles an hour. We caught up with Mr. Fisker at the Global Green Sustainable Design Awards where he was receiving the Corporate Design Award for his work on electric vehicles at Fisker Automotive. He was happy to be getting the award and noted that, “for us, to be part of this event is just really to create more awareness that environmental products can actually be really cool.” We’d have to second that notion, Fisker Automotive might just have one of the coolest green products in our book.
INHABITAT: You’re well known for being a car designer for many years for a lot of the top brands in automotive. What inspired you to go off and start your own company?
Henrik: I always thought about what are we going to be driving in the future. Now, when I saw Leonardo DiCaprio drive, obviously, to the Oscars in a Prius, I thought here’s a guy who can buy any car he wants, but he wants to make a statement. And I thought there’s got to be a market for good looking, desirable, green cars. So when I saw this kind of opportunity to get into this market with this powertrain that we have, which is essentially an electric vehicle, but with a range extender, I saw that it was the first time we could offer no compromise to the consumer, but also really get out there a beautiful green car, because obviously, my background is car design, so I thought it was the perfect mix.
INHABITAT: So, Leonardo DiCaprio was actually one of your first customers. That must feel really great.
Henrik: It feels great. You know, he’s a great ambassador for the environment. I think he is really passionate about it. He has obviously shown it in many things that he has contributed to and to have him drive the car and be a support for the company is fantastic. I couldn’t have asked for better.
INHABITAT: So your background is in design and now you’re a CEO. How does that feel making that transition?
Henrik: I think the advantage we have at Fisker Automotive is that I have a design background, because I’m very involved in the product creation and the design, obviously, of the vehicle. Becoming, obviously, the CEO really means you’re just involved in everything that goes on in the company and you start understanding all of the aspects of the company. And I think understanding the product fundamentally really means that everybody in the company is inspired, because they see that the lead in the company understands the product — that’s very important in the car industry.