Fisker Was Never Going To Succeed

Photo: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP (Getty Images)
Photo: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP (Getty Images)

Fisker, after the disastrous launch of the Ocean crossover, is not doing so hot. For CEO Henrik Fisker, founder of both Fisker Automotive and VLF Automotive, it’s a tale as old as time — spin up a car company, make a few copies of one car, and then crash and burn in spectacular fashion. A new report from TechCrunch, though, starts to connect the dots on why this keeps happening to Fisker’s companies: The man himself.

TechCrunch spoke to workers from Fisker Inc. — that’s the Fisker that does the Ocean, not the Fisker that did the Karma — about the design, engineering, release, and support processes for the Ocean. In each field, employees reported chaos and arbitrary decision making that stemmed straight from the top: Henrik Fisker and Geeta Gupta-Fisker, the husband and wife team running the show. From TechCrunch:

A year before Henrik Fisker handed over the first 22 Ocean SUVs in the U.S., the founder and CEO made an unusual change in the auto industry: he wanted wheel spacers installed on the vehicles.


The decision eventually rocked Fisker’s engineering team. The lead chassis engineer at the time, Brent Demers, sent an email in March 2023 to a group that included the VP of engineering, William Stinnett, saying Fisker’s Design and Studio team was “acting alone” installing the spacers “without proper validation and regard for previous engineering recommendations,” according to a copy viewed by TechCrunch. Demers asked to “introduce the spacers into the project by means of proper channels” instead.


If there’s one thing the automotive world needs, it’s more arbitrary decisions from the top that in no way benefit the business. These are a good thing, and have never been bad for any industry. Thankfully, Fisker had plenty more where that came from, particularly when Gupta-Fisker (as CFO and COO) initially refused to implement human support agents. Again from TechCrunch:

Instead, Gupta-Fisker wanted customer service requests to be handled digitally, including via a chatbot on the company’s website. That decision would prove problematic years later as the first SUVs were delivered to customers.

Problems cropped up within weeks of the first U.S. deliveries, which began in June 2023. Customers struggled to contact the company for help. Documents previously reviewed by TechCrunch show the company scrambling to triage incoming requests. Sales representatives were getting calls on their personal cell phones from owners stuck on the roadside, or unable to get into their Oceans.

It wasn’t until then that Gupta-Fisker reversed course, according to former employees. To help address the influx of customer service calls, Fisker hired a company in October 2023 called Prelude Systems, which promised to provide a mix of on- and off-shore service representatives.

Eventually, it seems Gupta-Fisker did get the support issue fixed — until that third-party supplier suddenly disappeared, and came back with a lawsuit for Fisker for $660,000 in unpaid bills.

The full piece from TechCrunch is absolutely worth the read. It combines things we knew about the company — like scavenging parts from preproduction cars to fix customer models — with these new reports of Fisker’s managerial whims. When taken in aggregate, they paint a clear picture: Fisker Inc., like the last few companies to bear that name, doesn’t seem long for this world.

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