Fisker CEO says Tesla Motors’ “lawsuit is nonsense”

By John Decker

April 24, 2008 at 8:55pm

The legal battle over high-end green car technology continued on Thursday as Fisker Motors’ CEO Henrick Fisker called a lawsuit filed by Tesla Motors “nonsense.”

The press release issued by Fisker Automotive claimed it was Tesla Motors that “breached the arbitration agreement in its contract with Fisker by filing these meritless claims in San Mateo County court.”

Earlier this month Tesla Motors filed a suit against Fisker Automotive, its design subsidiary and two of its top executives, Hendrick Fisker and Bernhard Koehler, alleging fraud, breach of contract and violation of a confidentiality agreement.

Fisker Kharma
Fisker Kharma

Fisker said today that its Fisker Kharma, a plug-in hybrid sports coupe, would be delivered on schedule by the fourth quarter of 2009 and that it would “vigorously defend” itself against the allegations made by Tesla in the suit.

Foreshadowing what may be its legal defense, Fisker quotes Alan Niedzwiecki, a Fisker director and president and CEO of Quantum Technologies, the designer of the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) technology being used in the Kharma.

“In January of 2007 I first met Henrik Fisker. Soon thereafter, I became convinced that a strategic alliance joining together Quantum’s (PHEV) unique technology position with Fisker’s design expertise could be leveraged into a company capable of launching the first premium sports sedan for the (PHEV) segment. In August 2007 that vision became a reality with the inception of Fisker Automotive Inc., effectively combining Quantum’s (PHEV) drivetrain expertise with a remarkable design from Fisker Coachbuild LLC.”

Kleiner Perkins has invested millions in the Fisker venture with partner Ray Lane on the Fisker board. Lane stated that he is “confident that Fisker Automotive continues to be a tremendous investment opportunity. The design innovation of Henrik Fisker combined with the hybrid drive train experience of Quantum is unique in the automotive market.”

Henrick Fisker’s 19 years of design experience includes work on BMW E-1 electric car in 1991, the BMW Z8 and the Aston Martin V8 Vantage.

In our earlier report we noted the tangled web of Silicon Valley bigwigs involved in the companies.

Elon Musk, co-founder of PayPal and Zip2, is an investor and the chairman of Tesla. Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, as well as Jeffrey Skoll, former president of eBay and executive producer of Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, are investors in Tesla. Steve Westly, a former controller for the state of California and a former eBay exec, is a director.

In January, Fisker announced a multimillion dollar investment by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and the appointment of Kleiner partner Ray Lane as a director at Fisker Automotive. At the time, Lane said Kleiner believed “that Fisker Automotive’s groundbreaking, forward-thinking design stands to pave the way for a greener and more efficient future.” The day following the announcement of the Kleiner investment Fisker unveiled the Fisker Kharma plug-in hybrid sports car at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The lawsuit puts Kleiner Perkins in an interesting position as an investor in both Google and Fisker. Additionally, Kleiner adviser Al Gore is a director at Google while fellow Google board members Sergey Brin and Larry Page are investors in Tesla.

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  • #1.   canadianguy 04.25.2008

    the oil companies will never allow an electric car

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