Tesla Motors, the Silicon Valley startup that just delivered its first production electric vehicle, has filed sued against Henrik Fisker, "a Danish-born designer who is known for his work on high-end exotic sports cars," and who was hired by Tesla "to do the body design for a four-seat sedan, code-named White Star." According to the lawsuit
Mr. Fisker and his chief operating officer, Bernhard Koehler, doing business under the name Fisker Coachbuild, fraudulently agreed to take on Tesla’s $875,000 design contract to gain access to confidential design information and trade secrets, then announced a competing vehicle. Last fall Mr. Fisker founded Fisker Automotive, which is backed by the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
Tesla claims that the design work done by Mr. Fisker was sub-par, and that this was done intentionally so that he could learn enough of Tesla's design secrets to be able to produce his own car, the Fisker Karma, which, just like the White Star, will be a serial hybrid (meaning that a small gas engine will be used to recharge a battery). As a result of the shoddy design work, Tesla had to turn elsewhere for a design, causing a "three- to six-month delay in production of the car, which is now scheduled to go on sale in 2010." Lawyers for Tesla were quick to point out the irony in the name 'Karma' for a vehicle whose design they contend was lifted from Tesla.
Hopefully all this lawyering won't have any impact of the already high expected price of the Tesla White Star ($60,000-$70,000). The Fisker Karma, which may or may not make it to market after these lawsuits are resolved, is expected to sell for around $80,000. In any case, the move by small start ups, including Aptera Motors, to produce innovative, efficient vehicles is gaining traction. We can try to view these lawsuits as a part of "healthy competition" between start ups. Or not...
Via: ::NY Times
See Also: ::Tesla Motors May Go Public in 2008 or 2009, ::Tesla Motors Starts "Regular" Production of Electric Cars, ::Jay Leno Drives the Tesla, and ::Tesla Motors: The Pros and Cons of Plug-in Hybrids