When we exclusively reported on dozens of Fisker Karmas being destroyed by water and flames during Superstorm Sandy, we didn't yet have a full picture of just how bad the damage to the luxury hybrid brand was.
Fisker may be the world's unluckiest automaker as a recent lawsuit indicates why so many of their cars were in harm's way in the first place.
We've since discovered that 338 of the Fisker Karma luxury hybrid vehicles were destroyed, or roughly $33 million worth of inventory, and our assumption that the insurance company would fork over the money was wrong. They're not, and Fisker is now suing XL Insurance America in New York so they can get their claim paid.
You can read the back-and-forth between the insurer and Fisker here. It comes down to how you define the status of the cars. Were they in transit? Was it maritime? The lawyers and courts will have to work it out.
Buried in the summons from Fisker, however, is a little detail that shows just how screwed poor Fisker was:
Although more than 900 other Fisker vehicles from the same ocean shipments previously had been transshipped to inland conveyances through FAPS, the 338 vehicles remaining in port were delayed to address various service requirements. All or virtually all of the vehicles were subject to a safety recall requiring the replacement of cooling fans before they could be distributed lawfully to retail dealerships. In addition, some of the vehicles required replacement of lithium ion batteries and software updates. These requirements resulted in delays of varying lengths in transshipping the vehicles to dealers via domestic conveyances.
Did you catch that? The vehicles were held back to cover a recall related to them bursting into flames and, while waiting to be fixed, were inundated with salt water causing a large number of them to be destroyed by a fire. Their attempt to prevent the cars from catching on fire led to them catching on fire.
This, on top of mixed reviews of the Fiskers, work stoppages because of their battery supplier going bankrupt, and various fire issues.
Some of this can be blamed on poor planning and bad design, although all new technology comes with issues and Fisker is far from the only automaker with fiery recalls. We probably pay more attention to what happens with Fisker because a Karma fire is sexier than an EcoBoost Escape fire.
A once-in-a-generation winter snow hurricane, though? Mostly bad luck. And if Fisker can't get someone to pay up it's just more terrible news for a company that seems to desperately need good news.