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There's still some bad blood between Elon Musk and Henrik Fisker

Just a few hours ago, Fisker Automotive announced that it was able to determine the cause of the latest fire that destroyed a Karma hybrid/electric sedan. Now, we’ve learned that Tesla Motors/Space X CEO Elon Musk is jumping into the fray to kick Fisker Automotive while it’s down in an interview with Automobile Magazine. It should be noted, however, that Musk and Fisker Automotive founder Henrik Fisker have a rocky past (read this article for some background information).
Musk was somewhat diplomatic when talking about the Karma’s styling, noting, “It looks good. Particularly from the side it looks good. I don’t love the front. It looks too much like a caricature of a Mexican Bandito—the grille.”

But the emphasis on over-the-top styling lead to one of Musk’s main criticisms of Henrik Fisker and the Karma sedan. “The fundamental problem with Henrik Fisker — he is a designer or stylist… he thinks the reason we don’t have electric cars is for lack of styling. This is not the reason. It’s fundamentally a technology problem."
In other words, the Karma is all style with little substance.

Henrik Fisker and the Fisker Karma [Image Source: Car and Driver]
Musk goes on to state that the voluptuous bodylines of the Karma make for an oddly packaged vehicle. For example, despite the fact that Karma weighs as much as a full-size SUV (5,300 lbs) and is nearly 200" long, it has very little cargo capacity and can only seat four people.
Although Musk doesn't allude to the Model S in this section of the Automobile Magazine interview, the Model S is faster, features both a front and rear trunk, and can seat five people in its base configuration. The Model S can also seat up to seven with optional rear-facing jump seats installed in the cargo hold (Elon Musk has five children and wanted to be able to transport them all in the Model S).
Musk also took Fisker to task over outsourcing much of the development of the Karma to other companies (most of the development for the Model S was done in-house). "He outsourced the engineering and manufacturing. But the fact is…that’s the crux of the problem. And he’s outsourcing to people who don’t know how to solve the problem."

Elon Musk and the Tesla Model S [Image Source: AutoEvolution]
Given the two reported fires involving the Fisker Karma (including the most recent fire which was caused by a third-party supplier's cooling fan) along with the recall and replacement of battery packs, we're sure that Musk is probably patting himself on the back.
To sum up his thoughts on the Karma, Musk proclaimed that the vehicle is "a mediocre product at a high price." The Fisker Karma starts at $95,900 while the entry-level Model S starts at $57,500 and can hit $105,400 for the "Signature Performance" version.

Sources: Automobile Magazine, Autoblog Green

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RE: Nailed it
By Jeffk464 on 8/18/2012 9:31:11 PM , Rating: 3
I agree completely, its worse publicity for him the for Fisker. Seems to me driven CEO should focus on talking up their products rather than bashing the competition, and I'm a Musk fan.

RE: Nailed it
By Brandon Hill on 8/18/2012 11:16:17 PM , Rating: 5
Well, to be fair to Musk, he also bashes his own Roadster in the interview:

It wasn't as though I thought it was going to be a fast way to make money or something. I thought it would be hard. I think the initial business plan was, like, $25 or $30 million to try to bring a car to market using...a derivative of the Elise chassis and some powertrain technology that had been developed by AC Propulsion. As it turned out, the AC Propulsion technology didn't work, so we had to redo all that. And the Elise -- once you added the electric powertrain, it invalidated all the crash work, the mass grew by 30 percent, the weight distribution was different, the load points were all different. We had to stretch the chassis just to be able to fit people in, so that turned out to be a really dumb strategy, too.

So it was like you wanted to build a house, couldn't find the right house, so you try to fix an existing house and end up changing everything except for one wall in the basement. It would have cost way less to just level the house [laughs] and start from scratch. What sounded like a good idea at first, which was to leverage the Elise chassis, was actually an incredibly dumb idea [laughs].

RE: Nailed it
By inperfectdarkness on 8/19/12, Rating: -1
RE: Nailed it
By Ringold on 8/19/2012 8:56:18 PM , Rating: 3
And the Elise -- once you added the electric powertrain, it invalidated all the crash work, the mass grew by 30 percent, the weight distribution was different, the load points were all different. We had to stretch the chassis just to be able to fit people in

RE: Nailed it
By inperfectdarkness on 8/21/2012 2:58:33 PM , Rating: 2
The Elise is also a unibody. For a frame-on-body, these types of issues shouldn't be a problem. Tesla should have done the math on minimum size required for passenger space + electrical components before commissioning a chassis.

There's no substitute for adequate planning.

RE: Nailed it
By Reclaimer77 on 8/19/2012 8:53:57 AM , Rating: 5
Brandon I would hardly call that "bashing".

Musk sued "Top Gear" because the Tesla Roadster fared very poorly when pushed to it's limits. The motors overheated, the batteries drained extremely fast, and something in the braking system failed. Instead of being open to criticism and eager to address these problems, he slaps a lawsuit on the show as if to claim they were out to get him to the point that they would make up lies. Even though Clarkson and the gang were very generous in their praise of the Tesla, when warranted.

So despite whatever he says, that's the real Musk. Someone who tries silencing media outlets and reviewers with lawsuits when they don't automatically proclaim his product as the best thing ever. I lost a lot of respect for him that day.

The lawsuit was tossed out of court by the judge, so he filed a second lawsuit, which was also tossed. Sheesh Musk, grudge much? Throw a tantrum why don't you, you big baby.

That's almost worse than Apple's strategy. At least they don't sue bloggers and tech TV shows who don't agree with them.

RE: Nailed it
By wordsworm on 8/19/12, Rating: 0
RE: Nailed it
By BZDTemp on 8/19/2012 12:34:18 PM , Rating: 3
Top Gear isn't all jokes and gags they do also highlight real issues and that is what they did with the Tesla.

Fact is the Tesla doesn't really work as a sports car unless you see it as only for showing off on short commutes. A sports car must be able to let you go on hour long drives for fun and also work on a track day. If you try and take the Tesla for a track day then chances are you'll arrive at the track already half way down on the batteries and after the first track stint it will spend the rest of the day charging in the pits. The Top Gear boys highlighted this and on top of that the cars also showed them self to have other issues with track driving.

RE: Nailed it
By Samus on 8/20/2012 1:02:29 AM , Rating: 1
No, I'm with wordsworm. I've subscribed to Top Gear magazine for years, which offers thorough reviews and real-life tests. The show borrows very little from the magazine, and Claskson/May/Hammond don't have substantial involvement in its publication. Actually James May writes more in the magazine than the other two combined.

The show is purely entertainment. Nothing can be taken seriously from it. If you witnessed the recommendation trends through the seasons, they are:

Buy Ford (2002-2005)
Buy Fiat (2006-2007)
Buy Japanese (2008-2009)
Buy Mercedes (2010-current)

Like Consumer Reports, there are motivations at hand to have these reviewers recommend these products during these periods. Sure, they could be good products, but that isn't the only reason they are recommended.

The show is ridiculous and over the top, pure entertainment and I've watched it since 1988, never missing an episode, and I stayed current with Fifth Gear through the late 90's when Top Gear went AWOL.

To the point...what they did to the Tesla Roadster was politically charged (very anti-forward thinking) by falsifying many of the failures, especially the regenerative braking system 'overheating'. Yes, the cars both lost charge in 50 miles, far from their rated milage, but they had the crap beaten out of them, and as hybrids has proven, beating on electric technology DOES NOT YIELD good milage.

RE: Nailed it
By BZDTemp on 8/20/2012 3:34:23 AM , Rating: 2
Hold on, it is not like I'm saying Top Gear is a consumer advice program but they do point to valid issues while also making for good entertainment. As for the magazine then I'm sorry but to me that doesn't exists and I wasn't commenting on that.

Now for the Tesla thing - Sports Car's need to be able to take being driven on track which means hard driving. If they can't handle it they can't work as sports cars thus in my book the criticism of the Tesla Roadster is perfectly valid.

RE: Nailed it
By Reclaimer77 on 8/20/2012 9:04:35 AM , Rating: 2
Man you're ridiculous. If I was in the market for a Tesla, I would sure want to know that driving it hard would mean the motor could overheat and the mileage goes to nothing. I've driven my car hard many times, and the engine never quit on me!

Yes, the cars both lost charge in 50 miles, far from their rated milage, but they had the crap beaten out of them

They routinely beat the crap out of ICE cars, and I can't remember a new sports car's engine dying on them like the Tesla's.

To the point...what they did to the Tesla Roadster was politically charged (very anti-forward thinking) by falsifying many of the failures, especially the regenerative braking system 'overheating'.

This is simply false. The failure in the brakes would have required taking the Tesla in for servicing. In my mind, broken means broken. The claim that Top Gear falsified anything is a joke, and that's why Musk was thrown out of court for making this claim not once, but twice.

Take your Liberal "forward thinking" nonsense and shove it. The Tesla Roadster is a giant step backwards for car enthusiasts, which makes up Top Gear's main audience. Is not having to buy guys worth all that? It's up for others to decide, but nothing is wrong with being better informed.

By the way, if the car was so damned great, explain to me why it was cancelled?

RE: Nailed it
By wordsworm on 8/20/2012 8:18:52 PM , Rating: 2
You could always do what liberals do and do a little research on your own rather than requiring others to do your research for you.

You know, if you run a Bugatti at its top speed of 400km/h, you'll get it about 50km before having to replace its tires. That's what happens when you push a sports car to its limit. Things wear down fast, they break.

RE: Nailed it
By Reclaimer77 on 8/19/2012 1:38:08 PM , Rating: 2
Top Gear has a history of making funny jokes and gags. Isn't that the reason people watch it?

Exactly which is why suing them for "libel" is absolutely ridiculous and was thrown out of court twice.

I guess Musk has the emotional maturity of a teenager or something.

RE: Nailed it
By Brandon Hill on 8/19/2012 1:45:41 PM , Rating: 5
Brandon I would hardly call that "bashing".

Calling their entire strategy with the car "dumb", the original motor was garbage, and also saying that using the Elise chassis (which wasn't designed with batteries in mind) and having to modify it was "dumb".

He also said that it would have cost them less to build it from scratch. If that isn't bashing, I don't know what is.

RE: Nailed it
By Reclaimer77 on 8/19/2012 6:12:50 PM , Rating: 1
It's all about the phrasing. Calling his competitor's product a "stupid Mexican sombrero" looking thing is quite different than those statements you highlighted of him acknowledging Tesla shortfalls in a modest way.

Musk has a personal beef with Fisker, that much is clear. This is just him wanting to kick mud in the face of a competitor when he's down, and taking advantage of the situation.

RE: Nailed it
By geddarkstorm on 8/19/2012 10:44:36 PM , Rating: 2
Wait... where did he call it a "stupid Mexican sombrero"? I haven't seen the interview, just the snippits here on Dailytech, but I don't see anything that Musk said about Fisker that is even remotely as harsh as the snippit Brandon posted where Musk talks of his own company's failures.

In fact, all the quotes in the main Dailytech article seem true, as far as I see. The very first about the looks just being opinion, but which I do agree with; that front does look like a silly mustache you'd see on Yosemity Sam or something.

RE: Nailed it
By Reclaimer77 on 8/19/12, Rating: 0
RE: Nailed it
By Guspaz on 8/20/2012 11:51:23 AM , Rating: 2
There's a difference between defending what somebody said based on the content, and pointing out "Hey, they never said the stuff you're criticizing them for saying."

You made up a quote, you got called on it. Move on.

RE: Nailed it
By Reclaimer77 on 8/20/12, Rating: 0
RE: Nailed it
By ClownPuncher on 8/20/2012 1:34:39 PM , Rating: 2
You off your meds today or something? You're positively perspiring olive oil.

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