It is official: the gloves are off in the war of words between Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk and Fisker Automotive chief Henrik Fisker.

Most of the verbal barbs came from Musk, who sat down to gossip with Automobile Magazine about archrival Fisker. The bad blood goes back a few years to when Tesla unsuccessfully sued Henrik Fisker for developing the Karma while under contract for the design of the Model S – basically paying someone to design his own car.

Another, more newsworthy zinger was when Musk called out Fisker as a smart designer but one who does not understand the underlying technology problem. Musk said:

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. At the same time, you need to make it look good and feel good, because otherwise you're going to have an impaired product. But just making something look like an electric car does not make it an electric car.

Fisker has been scrambling to deal with fires and recalls connected to its A123 Systems partnership. Musk's biggest jab was directed at the flagship Karma: "It's a mediocre product at a high price."

So what did Henrik Fisker have to say? In a written response to Automobile Magazine, Fisker stayed friendly, but did throw down the competitive gauntlet: range anxiety. "Obviously, Tesla and Fisker are appealing to two different customer bases with two totally different technologies. Tesla has pure EV and Fisker has a range-extended offering with no compromise on range," he wrote. Zing!

Fisker thanked Musk for giving a nod to the good-looking Karma, which won Automobile's 2012 Design of the Year. He also made a statement to clear up the legal wrangle: Fisker won in court. A judge threw out the case and awarded costs to Fisker.

Both companies have borrowed existing tech to bring their plug-ins to market. Karma needed Quantum Technologies to provide the plug-in hybrid drivetrain and used a General Motors-sourced 2.0 liter turbo four-cylinder engine. Tesla used the Lotus Elise to develop its first car, the Roadster. That said, the sparring judges would probably send more points to Tesla Motors, which sells its battery system and EV powertrain technology to companies like Toyota.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 56 Comments
      Grendal
      • 2 Years Ago
      So this is the article they post on AutoBlog. There have been a ton of articles dicussing the spectacular reviews that Tesla's Model S has received on the ABG side. Inside Line just track tested the car and did BETTER than its advertised 0-60, in 4.35 seconds with no launch control needed. A seven seat sedan built by an American company that was putting out numbers comparable to a BMW M5 and they leave you guys in the cold. Possibly the first new American car company in 90 years that's makes a new innovative product that is unique in the world and....nothing. It certainly shows what the Autoblog staff thinks about you people.
        Grendal
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Grendal
        And Tesla has 13,000 pre-orders for the Model S. Which is over $1 billion in sales.
          jeffsun22
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Grendal
          assuming they are all pre-orders for the allmost $100k car
      TokyoRemix
      • 2 Years Ago
      Both are cool, but Fisker is just...classier.
      Alex Ellsworth
      • 2 Years Ago
      Mediocre product at a high price was pretty much exactly my reaction to the Fisker Karma. 52 mpg on electric with a range of 32 miles, then 20 mpg on gas alone after. For a starting price of $102,000 for the base model? Meanwhile, the Tesla Model S is cheaper, faster, and better handling. You get 160 mile range for $57K, 230 miles for $10K more, and 300 miles for $10K above that. Not only is it the first electric car with enough range to make it usable as a daily driver, it's also an amazing performer by all accounts. I have to say, that impresses me. And one thing that really ANNOYS me is when people use a veneer of green to sell stuff. The Fisker is pseudo-environmentalism, like living in a 5,000 square foot mansion with bamboo floors and low-flow showerheads and driving an Escalade hybrid. If you're saving fuel to save money, you wouldn't buy a Fisker. If you're saving fuel because you genuinely want to save the environment, you also wouldn't buy a Fisker - there are much more efficient and cost effective ways to do so.
        jeffsun22
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Alex Ellsworth
        OMG Alex same posting as the one from a previous Fisker Story- How much are you being paid to slander Fisker while promoting Telsa? Elon Must be paying you well. For those who dont believe me see below: http://www.autoblog.com/2012/08/19/fisker-karma-cooling-fan-fire-voluntary-recall/
      Willie
      • 2 Years Ago
      I disagree! They both sell mediocre overpriced cars...that sometimes catch on fire.
        jonthezombie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Willie
        How would you compare that since there has been no data on vehicle fires in Tesla's cars (other then after crash). Oh.....Im sorry, you were just talking out of your ass. please continue to spout BS.
          Willie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @jonthezombie
          Certainly! Tesla and Fisker cars suck and are overpriced. Deal with it!
        xuanvu
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Willie
        NO TESLA has EVER caught fire !!
      vizcarmb
      • 2 Years Ago
      I saw this POS on the road to San Fran and at first I thought it was a riced out Hyundai Sonanta. You couldn't tell the difference.
      jz78817
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'll give more credence to Musk; since if nothing else, Tesla has delivered on their promises so far. The Karma is (IMO) a bloated leviathan that shouldn't dare call itself an "eco-friendly" car.
        recharged95
        • 2 Years Ago
        @jz78817
        And that if you look at the history of Telsa and Fisker, it's pretty obvious why Musk is crapping on Fisker, they basically stole the technology from Telsa on contract.
          jeffsun22
          • 2 Years Ago
          @recharged95
          REALLY? So lets see Tesla has a horizontal batter pack in the floor with a motor in the back. Fisker has an ICE in the front with a generator, a Vertical battery pack (based on a completely different tech) in the center of the car - with 2 electric motors and a fuel tank in the rear. SO which bits did they steal again? Oh wait thats right Elon is a sore loser since he sued and the judge laughed him out of court.......
      ClementZ
      • 2 Years Ago
      Well at least we can all agree on something; the Karma certainly looks better than the Model S.
        SatinSheetMetal
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ClementZ
        I don't believe we can agree on that at all. I just see a Pringles mustache on the Karma, and it ruins the car for me.
        ravenosa
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ClementZ
        The only good angle I've seen of a Karma was from far away, after it had been roasted to a charred crisp.
      ZenDriver
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm rather disappointed in Musk for taking the low road here. He should be happy that the Tesla S is in production and has a fanbase. Instead he's still angry over the lawsuit that Fisker clearly won in court. He's bashing the competition which is bad karma in the auto industry, no pun intended. (sort-of) These are different cars for different customers. Bravo to Fisker for taking the high road in his response.
      dtrump_21
      • 2 Years Ago
      Overall the interior looks very nice indeed........but that maaahusive screen slapped in the centre? Holy hell, what were they thinking?!
        Gorgenapper
        • 2 Years Ago
        @dtrump_21
        No tactile feedback (ie. physical buttons) = Crash the car while fiddling with the AC
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Gorgenapper
          [blocked]
          Grendal
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Gorgenapper
          Most of those can be adjusted using the buttons on the steering wheel. The car will also come with voice activation which would even be safer than reaching for a button.
      piggybox
      • 2 Years Ago
      While those companies can make cars for 1% all they want, I'd rather appreciate the effort of Nissan to bring EV to the rest of us.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      inthelv
      • 2 Years Ago
      Wow, it's like watching a "Real Housewives of Silicon Valley" B*&ch fight! Grab her hair! Gotta admit it's fun to see two rich entrepreneurs fighting instead of some PR firm managed press releases.
        FreeThinker
        • 2 Years Ago
        @inthelv
        I only see one "fighting." The other is keeping calm and carrying on.
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