Tag Archives: Elon Musk

Failure and Success

This post is about the flip sides of the coin of failure and success.

 

It very much appears that EVER (Electric Vihicle with Extended Range)  car maker, Fisker Automotive is on its last legs and is about to file for bankruptcy. Fisker makes the $100,000 plus Fisher Karma. Fisker first ran into trouble when its’ Department of Energy (DOE) loan was frozen, due to failure to meet various production benchmarks for the production of the Karma. This happen just after the failure of startup solar cell maker Solydra, which was also funded by the DOE. Despite many negotiation sessions between Fisker and the DOE, there was no way that the DOE loan was going to be restored in the charge political atmosphere  after the failure of Solydra. The purpose of the $529 million loan, was mostly, to allow Fisker to renovate a factory in Maryland for production of its next generation, lower price EVER sedan, the Atlantic. Whereas the Karma was a $100,000 two seater, the Atlantic was to be a $50,000 sedan. The straw that really broke the camels back (to coin a phrase), was a battery recall, caused by failures of lithium-ion batteries in a number of Karmas. It was Fiskers bad luck that one of the Karmas was being tested by Consumer Reports, when the battery failed. The batteries were made by another startup company A123. The battery failure was due to a manufacturing  defect in A123’s.new factory. The battery failure was catastrophic  for both companiles. To recall and replace the batteries cost A123 something in the neighbor of $50 million, at a time when it was already cash strapped, due to slower then expected EV adoption rates. A123, which had the leading lithium-ion battery technology, was a contender to be the battery supplier for the Chevy Volt. A123 ultimately was forced to sell itself to the Chinese giant Wanxiang Group. Wanxiang got the most advanced lithium-ion technology, funded by the US tax payers, for a bargain. We’ll talk more about A123 in another post. Back to Fisker – as a result of the Solydra failure, missed milestones, and the lithium-ion battery failure, Fisker will probably be forced to file for bankruptcy soon. This is really a shame, because the Atlantic, which was first unveiled in April 2012 at the NY Auto Show, had the potential of being a great car.

 

The success story is Tesla Motors. The Tesla Model S, which started production late summer 2012, has been an over whelming  success. The Model S, a fully electric vehicle, won Motor Trend’s 2013 Car of the Year, and many other awards. The factory which produces the Model S is up to full production capacity, and there is a backlog of orders. Tesla’s first car was the Roadster, a $100,000 plus two seater. The Model S price ranges from $62,400 to $87,400, depending on battery capacity.

Tesla recently reported their first quarterly profit, and expects to be profitable for the year. Tesla chairman, Elon Musk, recently announced that Tesla will pay back it’s DOE loan five years early. Take that Milt Romney, and all other electric car and DOE critics!