By JIM MOTAVALLI
After a series of delays, the high-performance, $96,850 Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid is expected to finally reach its first North American customers in July and August. Those drivers will be plugging in to wall units installed by a team with roots stretching back to the General Motors EV1 battery car.
Fisker’s new partner, EV Connect, based in Culver City, Calif., is only two years old, but Jordan Ramer, the company’s chief executive, said that some team members helped install charging infrastructure for the EV1, while others worked for Edison EV, a subsidiary of the major utility owner Edison International that was formed in 1996.
The 240-volt Fisker charging station, which will be installed exclusively by EV Connect.The 240-volt Fisker charging station, which will be installed exclusively by EV Connect.
The California Energy Commission recently awarded EV Connect grants for a pilot program to install charge points at crucial Los Angeles Metro rail stations and, with other providers, to upgrade older chargers in the state. Many of those units, Mr. Ramer said, “are part of the same infrastructure some of us installed in the 1990s.”
In an exclusive arrangement, EV Connect will install 240-volt stations built by the Lear Corporation, which also supplies chargers for the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid. The units themselves, however, were designed in-house by Fisker.
“We wanted to match the look and feel of the charger design to the car,” said Josh Batie, Fisker’s manager of customer services, in a telephone interview. He added that, beginning next month, Fisker’s customers will be offered a $2,295 package that would include the $800 charger and $1,495 installation. More difficult installations will cost more, he said.
The charging units are scheduled to begin shipping around the same time as the cars. “The dealerships are literally coming together right now,” said Roger Ormisher, a Fisker spokesman, when reached by phone Wednesday. “They’re getting their signage installed, and the E.V. chargers are coming.”
EV Connect will handle the so-called turnkey home and workplace charging experience for Fisker in North America, including signing up consumers at the time of vehicle purchase, performing site assessments, obtaining municipal permits, installing the units and maintaining them under warranty. According to Mr. Ramer, the company has a network of 100 certified electricians around the United States to support Fisker clients and dealers.
In a separate announcement, Fisker said Wednesday that it would hire 40 electromechanical technicians in July and August for its Project Nina venture in Wilmington, Del., and 80 new production employees from October of this year to February 2012. The Nina car is what Fisker describes as a midsize premium sedan, also a plug-in hybrid like the larger Karma, and is expected to appear on the market in 2013. Mr. Ormisher said the company also ramped up hiring at its headquarters in Anaheim, Calif.