Not all of the stories regarding electric car manufacturers sing as sweetly as Tesla, BMW, or Nissan.
Fisker Automotive, the maker of a $100,000-and-up plug-in hybrid luxury sedan, said on Friday that about three-quarters of its workers had been let go to “allow the company to work through its current financial challenges.”
As one of the competitors in the luxury electric car market, Fisker’s cars are sleek and styled elegantly. But that styling was not enough to overcome financial hardships caused by low sales, production problems and a major recall, and the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy.
Although Fisker successfully brought its stylish Karma sedan to market in late 2011, the company has had a spate of problems in recent months, including a recall of more than 2,000 cars to replace a cooling fan. Last October, 320 Karmas, awaiting delivery to customers, were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy at Port Newark in New Jersey, resulting in a $32 million loss for the automaker.
One of the stresses of innovative technologies is that, while some companies do well and have visible and positive press, many others will fail. Fisker’s massive layoffs and corporate restructuring indicate that it could be one of such ventures that fails. Critics have pointed at the loans offered to Fisker by the Department of Energy in 2009 as a failing of the US government to adequetely predict the success of a company’s output. Others have replied that, while it is a shame that some loans will never be paid back because the innovation is not successful, these kind of loans are necessary to spur companies to develop new and creative technologies, electric cars being one of them.
Do you think the government should take “chances” on innovative technologies, like electric cars, realizing that some will fail? Is investment in electric car technology something that the US government should invest in?