How Leonardo DiCaprio inspired Henrik Fisker to build plug-in hybrid cars
TopGear started out by digging into Leo's early car experiences. His first car was a Sixties Ford Mustang fitted with the classic Windsor 351 (5.8-litre) engine that could smoke anyone on the road. The problem was it didn't have power steering and an engine that would just shut off. After being invited to the White House in the late 1990s by then-vice president Al Gore, who gave him an environmental 101 talk, DiCaprio embraced environmental issues. It was a defining moment, and it inspired him and his family to start the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation in 1998, which "supports efforts to secure a sustainable future for our planet and all of its inhabitants."
His green credentials were recognized by the broader public until years later, when he showed up driving his Toyota Prius to the Academy Awards. "I'm photographed constantly by paparazzi when I leave my home so it was just a responsible thing to do as an environmentalist," DiCaprio said.
Here's the twist. Fisker Automotive co-founder Henrik Fisker says that it was that moment – watching Leo and the Prius at the Oscars – that inspired him to start up his company. "I saw you getting out of the Prius, and I thought there's got to be a market for an environmentally friendly car which goes beyond the Prius. That was my first inspiration," Fisker said.
DiCaprio's reasons for liking the Fisker plug-in hybrid might resonate with a few average American car shoppers and movie goers out there. "I started trying hybrids, which were fantastic. But you can say that there are lots of vehicles out there that get equal or better mileage. Then I bought two electric vehicles, which I found I never wanted to drive. I was afraid of being stranded on the Pacific Coast Highway and standing at a restaurant for six hours while my vehicle's plugged in."
He also liked the look and feel of the Fisker Karma sports car. He hopes to make a financial return on investment and to raise awareness of his Foundation. Beyond that, he hopes to see Fisker make cars lower in cost, which is coming out soon with the Fisker Atlantic, because "you want everyone to be able to drive a vehicle like this," he said, not just movie stars.
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