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Hurricane Sandy deals blow to Fisker

The East Coast superstorm destroys 300 luxury hybrids in Newark, N.J.

OC METRO StaffPublished: November 07, 2012 02:15 PM

A report in today’s Wall Street Journal recounts another impact of Hurricane Sandy settling in from almost 3,000 miles away. Anaheim-based luxury automaker Fisker Automotive lost some 300 brand new Fisker Karma plug-in hybrids as a result of last week’s category 2 hurricane.

A total of 16,000 new cars from a number of manufacturers, which had arrived at New Jersey’s Port of Newark and were awaiting retrieval when the superstorm hit the state, were affected by flooding from the hurricane. Sixteen of the Karma models, which carry a price tag of $100,000, caught fire after seawater from the oncoming flood short-circuited the cars’ standard 12-volt auto battery.

A similar mishap befell several Toyota vehicles stored at the port, and officials from Toyota Motor Corp. said the company plans to scrap 2,700 vehicles damaged at the port and will review 1,300 more.

Fisker’s total losses from the storm top $3 million, but officials from Fisker said the cars were insured and the company will not suffer a material impact on its business as a result of the loss. However, 300 vehicles is a rather sizeable inventory for the company, which has delivered 2,000 units to wholesalers and dealers as of September this year.

The Karma, which is manufactured overseas in Finland, has proven popular with the auto industry, scooping up a range of critical and design awards. But the company itself has faced a number of challenges, the most recent being the bankruptcy of its battery supplier, A123 Systems. The battery manufacturer is currently trying to void all its contracts to smooth its transition toward acquisition by a larger company; Fisker, as one of A123 Systems’ largest contracts, has moved to delay the bankruptcy court auction.

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