Elon Musk Revives Tesla’s Old Spat With EV Rival Henrik Fisker

Early in Tesla’s formative period in 2007 Elon Musk sued Henrik Fisker, unsuccessfully, for breach of contract. He accused the famed car designer he brought in to help style the Model S with doing reconnaissance in advance of launching a rival maker of rechargeable vehicles. Now the mercurial billionaire CEO has revived their feud by taking a swipe at Fisker, whose new company begins producing electric SUVs in November.

Musk’s comment on Twitter was in response to a story about Karma Automotive suing some of its former executives who left to start EV maker DeLorean. (Adding to the confusion, that startup is named for the auto company created by legendary car designer John DeLorean. It failed in 1982, but remains a cultural icon owing to the use of a DeLorean sports car in the Back To The Future film series).

Karma Automotive, based in Irvine, California, acquired the assets of the former Fisker Automotive following its 2013 bankruptcy–and after Henrik Fisker resigned. Still, its main model, the Revero, is based on Henrik’s original design.

“How ironic, that’s what Henrik Fisker did to Tesla in 2007! Karma is a …,” Musk tweeted on Wednesday, without elaborating.

In Musk’s 2007 suit against Henrik Fisker, a lawyer for Tesla said that he’d been hired to body and interior design work for “WhiteStar,” a four-door sedan that beame Tesla’s Model S, but unbeknownst to them he was also developing his own rival model. A California didn’t rule in Musk’s favor, and there’s been little mention of the matter by Musk since then.

“We won that fight fair and square,” Fisker told Forbes.

Musk “is a great smart guy. I had fun working with him!” he said. “In case the memo didn’t reach Elon in 2014, I have nothing to do with Karma Auto!”

His new company, Fisker Inc., begins production of the Ocean, its first model, at a Magna plant in Graz, Austria, in November. The small SUV, which will compete with Tesla’s top-selling Model Y, has a base price of about $38,000. In August the Los Angeles-based startup said it had more than $300 million worth of orders for the Ocean ahead of its launch.

“Oh, and we might accelerate our build faster with the Ocean than the Model S!” he said.

Shares of Tesla rose 1.7% to $287.81 in Nasdaq trading on Wednesday. Fisker rose 1.5% to $8.10.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.