Fisker’s Woes Continue


Fisker Automotive, the makers of the ultra luxurious sedan nicknamed the Karma, has had tragedies experienced one after the other. Because of the series of misfortunes that has befallen the car manufacture, one now seems to wonder as to the wisdom of naming its maiden vehicle as the Karma.

One of the most recent disasters the company has been with Hurricane Sandy, where 338 of their Karmas were lost when the Port of Newark was flooded. The vehicles, after being submerged, caught fire, resulting in the total loss of the luxury sports cars.

In a recent turn, the insurer of these Karmas is refusing to pay for the lost vehicles, leaving Fisker with no choice but to seek damages in court. According to reports, Fisker Automotive’s policy with insurer the XL Group PLC allows entitlement of up to U.S. $100 million for damages occurred through named storms, an example would be Hurricane Sandy. This amount though is still subject to a deductible and other provisions in the policy. The value of the lost Karma vehicles then housed at the port at the time of the storm totaled U.S. $33 million.

The bone of contention for the refusal of the claim is the determination whether or not the vehicles are considered ‘in transit’. The said vehicles were awaiting shipment to dealers at the time of the loss.

When the vehicles are considered as such, then other provisions and sublimits as to the indemnity applies. Fisker alleges that the insurer must cover the loss, as well as breach of contract for their refusal to pay the amounts stipulated in the insurance policy. The case was filed in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

When Hurricane Sandy hit the Port of Newark in New Jersey, there were more than 10,000 vehicles currently in storage. The amount of the loss is considered as the second costliest in U.S. history after only the swath of damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.

This is just one of the problems that Fisker Automotive has experienced in 2012, such as fires in its vehicles, production recalls and delays, funding issues, poor reviews of its Karma, and massive layoffs of its personnel. The lukewarm response by the market of the U.S. $100,000 plug-in hybrid vehicle does not help its cause one bit. Its follow up vehicle named the Atlantic has sputtered in production because of financial shortcomings for the company.

UK Cold to the Electric Vehicle


In a recent survey conducted by specialist insurance firm Adrian Flux, only about two percent of individuals in the UK would be most likely to purchase an electric vehicle in the next half decade.

The company surveyed a thousand of its clients and it found that about seventy percent would not consider switching to electric vehicles. The remaining twenty eight percent still have that wait and see attitude as to how the market unravels in the next few years.

Despite such cold reception to electric cars, the market is further opening up to the idea of making these vehicles a staple on UK roadways. There are about thirty new fully electric range extended and hybrid models that would hit UK showrooms in the next year and a half. Electric car naysayers have also been assured that the recharging infrastructure for electric cars is also in full throttle, with 654 charging points in Metro London alone. This is more than any other city in the European Union, where many cities of the UK that dominate the top ten in EV accommodating cities.

Expense still is a major issue, despite the grants amounting to about £5,000 for each purchase of an electric car. According to Gary Bucke of Adrian Flux Insurance Services, the reluctance to switch to these electric vehicles are attributable to the perceived ‘hassle’ of a vehicle relying on charging for power.

He said, “People are worried that they can’t just ‘drive and go’ and that they will have to plan ahead depending on how far they plan to travel each day and the ‘range’ of their car. Although the majority of people’s car journeys are short, they still want to know that – if they choose – they could travel long distances in their car without having to worry about finding a charging station. There are options available, such as range extended electric cars with petrol or diesel generators to provide extra electricity and hybrid cars which recover energy from the movement and braking of the car.”

Despite the promise of lower fuel costs, there are other areas that electric car owners would incur expenses aside from the high purchase amount. Bucke adds, “In insurance terms, insurers still have reservations about electric cars mainly based on their cost and the disposal of the batteries, which can push up the premiums.”

This though can surely be corrected with the new program instituted by the European Union. This program is a four year €41.8 million partnership to improve the up-take of electric cars throughout the Union.

The goal of the program is to develop the know-how and experience in selected regions throughout Europe as well as improve the acceptance of electric vehicles throughout Europe. According to European Commission Vice President Siim Kallas, “Transport is current 96 per cent dependent on oil for its energy needs. This is totally unsustainable. The Tranpsort 2050 Roadmap aims to break transport’s current oil dependency and allow mobility to grow.”

Electric Scooters Increasing in Popularity


Because of the continued increase of fuel prices and electric cars still remain quite expensive, many are turning to electric scooters for their transportation needs. Many individuals opt for these low cost vehicles as they don’t require fuel, tax, or insurance coverage.

The Department for Transport is now conducting an investigation because of the increased sales of these transportation platforms. According to Transport Minister Norman Baker, there is nothing illegal for an individual owning a so-called mobility scooter. There has to be a line drawn with these vehicles, so as there would be no misuse or abuse of the vehicular privileges.

There are two kinds of these electric scooters. There is a four mph version for footpaths and the turbo version that can reach up to eight mph. These can be used on roadways as long as they are fitted with lights, both at the front and back of the unit.

One of the most outlandish mobility scooters was built by Colin Furze. With his modifications, the scooter was able to reach 71.59 mph. He fitted the scooter with a 1997 CR125 motocross engine, with five gears and twin exhausts. With this scooter, he was able to break the Guinness Book of World Records.

One lawmaker, Alison Seabeck of the Labor Party has called on proper regularization for these scooters. She has submitted a plan for basic training on the proper use of the mobility scooters and accident records for individuals would be kept even for these smaller vehicles.

The largest group of mobility scooter users, Charity Scoot-A-Long has supported this measure. This would ensure the safety and durability of the scooters, especially after an eighty year old died when his mobility scooter had overturned. The drawback for this measure would be the limitation for some elderly and disabled individuals from using these mobility scooters.

Electric Car Insurance Issues


British drivers would receive between £2,000 (US$2,900) and £5,000 (US$7,300) as subsidies when they purchase electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles. This grant was announced by Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon as the government pushes for the use of electric cars in the country’s roadways.

Current statistics indicate that this market is an untapped area as there are less than 0.1% electric cars among the current registered vehicles in the UK. This though, has created a new area of concern that is the insurance coverage for these kinds of vehicles.

One fourth of the fixed costs of owning a car in the UK goes to insurance. Not many in the insurance industry offers electric car insurance and if a company does, its coverage is lower than the conventional internal combustion car coverage. This offer applies only if the electric car is the secondary vehicle of the family. Because of the increased safety features, electric car insurance also comes at a discount.

Because of the unique configuration of the vehicle, finding the right insurance coverage would be like looking for insurance on one of a kind or specific requirement coverage. It is thus imperative that your insurance company has knowledge on the workings of an electric car and the coverage requirements. Also important is the owner’s track record as a driver. There is a growing conclusion that electric vehicle owners are quite dependable and responsible. Also, make sure of the liquidity of the insurance company as it would be a problem if they were unable to satisfy your claim.

Another issue would be the cost of repairs for an electric vehicle. While this is a common concern for most insurances, the highly technical nature of the vehicle would surely drive repairs cost for the insurer. This would only be for the short term as the popularity of the vehicle increases, so would the cost of repairing the vehicle decrease. As this happens, the premiums of the electric car insurance coverage would certainly decrease along with the trend.