Tesla accuses Fisker of stealing design ideas, trade secrets

Just when you think the electric car stories can’t get more exciting than Wired magazine’s story about Zap, the company that constantly announces and never seems to make anything, the NY Times writes about a lawsuit filed by Tesla against Fisker.

The Tesla lawsuit contends that 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.

The quarrel sheds a light on the insular world of the Valley’s investors in environmentally friendly technologies. Sergey Brin and Larry Page, whose Google search engine was originally backed by Kleiner Perkins, were both early Tesla investors.

Both the planned Tesla sedan and Mr. Fisker’s recently announced Karma are meant to be hybrid cars using a small gas engine to power a generator that charges a battery, which in turn powers an electric motor. The design, known as a serial hybrid, is thought to greatly extend the range and efficiency of hybrid vehicles.

The Tesla lawsuit states that before doing the design work for Tesla, Mr. Fisker had no experience with hybrid technology. It says that he did substandard work for Tesla, essentially sabotaging it, and then used the revenue from the design contract to develop his company’s car.

doug alston May 19, 2008 at 8:43 pm

I commend Telsa for a leap ahead for our country. When the model T was launched there were 285 car companies in this country alone. Dont waste capital on law suits. This is an evolving race for the american car buyer. Just show the competition you are better than they are. Go Telsa.

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