Electric carmaker Tesla sues designer

By | April 16, 2008

The Tesla Roadster and the Fisker Karma share a sleek, sexy vision of an alternative-fuel future. But their green path has become a rocky road.

Tesla, the Silicon Valley electric-car start-up, has accused Henrik Fisker of fraud and stealing company secrets. In a suit filed Monday in San Mateo County Superior Court, Tesla said it paid Fisker, a car designer, $875,000 in 2007 to create the look of its second model. Instead, Tesla said, Fisker supplied a design that was “substandard” while creating his own car and his own company at the same time.

The suit asks for unspecified damages and seeks an injunction to prevent Fisker from using knowledge he obtained while working with Tesla.

In a statement, Fisker described the allegations as “without merit, and we intend to defend ourselves vigorously.”

Said Adam Belsky, the San Francisco attorney representing Tesla: “Obviously, if they had said, ‘We’d like to develop a directly competitive car,’ they never would have hired them in the first place.”

In January, Fisker unveiled the four-seat Karma. Scheduled to go on sale in late 2009, the plug-in hybrid sedan will sell for about $80,000.

Tesla, which started making its $100,000 Roadster earlier this year, said it plans to release a second model, a sports sedan that will compete with the BMW 5-Series and sell for about $50,000 to $60,000 in 2010.

Tesla’s headquarters are in San Carlos- mn

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