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Fisker employees are fixing some customers' cars with parts from the company's vehicle 'graveyard,' sources say

Grace Kay   

Fisker employees are fixing some customers' cars with parts from the company's vehicle 'graveyard,' sources say
  • Fisker employees are using parts from preproduction vehicles and inventory to fix some customers' cars, eight sources said.
  • The practice has been ongoing since Fisker began deliveries in June 2023, some sources say.

Fisker employees have been taking parts off preproduction vehicles and existing inventory to fix some customers' cars, several people familiar with the issue told Business Insider.

In response to a backlog of customer-service requests and a shortage of available parts, Fisker technicians have stripped parts off what some have called "donor cars," which include Fisker Ocean preproduction and production vehicles that are sitting in the company's facility in La Palma, California, three current and five former Fisker employees said. The workers spoke to BI on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about company affairs. Business Insider also viewed several photos of Fisker Ocean cars with missing parts that sources say were used for customer vehicles.

A spokesperson for Fisker told Business Insider the information was false.

"No parts have been taken off these vehicles for use in customers cars," the spokesperson said, adding that parts may have been taken off engineering vehicles "for analysis or to retrofit other engineering vehicles, but never customer vehicles."

One current Fisker employee with knowledge of the issue said technicians have resorted to taking parts off other cars to address customer-service requests in about 10% to 15% of fixes over the past few months, particularly for customers near the company's La Palma site.

"It only happens if there's a dire need for the part," the worker said. "Technicians are just doing this to help customers. Customers are basically begging for parts, and the mentality is: If we have parts available, let's use them."

Typically, the parts are pulled from a back area at the La Palma site, where there is a lineup of preproduction vehicles that some have dubbed the "graveyard," five of the sources told BI. Preproduction cars are made after prototypes and are essentially beta versions of the vehicle not intended for customer use — just testing and demos; production vehicles are the final product that customers are delivered. Some of the vehicles at the site are Fisker Oceans that had been returned by customers, two current employees and one former worker said.

"It was a place where you just parked cars that were cannibalized. They were pushed into a space where it wouldn't cause traffic, and it became a place to check for parts," one former worker said. "It became evident at some point that you couldn't really put these things back together anymore," they added.

The company started taking parts off preproduction and production vehicles when it began deliveries in June 2023, three former employees said.

When the company delivered its first 22 Fisker Oceans some of the cars had to be outfitted with outside parts after a predelivery inspection found at least four of the cars had some faulty parts, including new door handles, seat sensors, and a body-control module, three former workers said.

'Every day was a fire drill'

One former worker said that parts swapping became a daily occurrence after the vehicle was launched in June 2023. Six employees close to the situation said that supervisors were aware that this practice was happening.

"Every day was a fire drill of what car has this part that I need," a former employee told BI. "The first or second time, people were super careful about it and then eventually it was done so often that it became second nature and people weren't asking if they could do it anymore — they were just doing it."

One former worker compared the process to creating a "Frankenstein" car.

A Fisker spokesperson said: "The 'Frankenstein' term was invented by our former CTO and applied to engineering vehicles that were testing multiple versions of software."

Two other workers said that technicians were careful to make sure the parts that were going between the vehicles weren't too different, especially if a part was going from a preproduction vehicle into a production car.

It's unclear whether every customer who received a car with swapped-out parts was notified of the switch. Patrick Burrell, a Fisker Ocean owner in California, said he was told by a Fisker employee that the company would fix a minor paint and trim issue with his car by using a part that was taken off one of Fisker's other cars, but the repair has yet to be complete. Business Insider viewed an email exchange between a Fisker employee and Burrell that showed the employee offered to fix Burrell's car using a part from another Fisker car.

The email shows that a Fisker employee told Burrell and a repair-shop employee that the company had "offered to have the mechanic install parts from another car that are good as new."

"These trim pieces are being pulled off a brand-new vehicle so they are basically brand new," the worker said in a later email to the customer.

A Fisker spokesperson declined to comment on the email exchange.

Burrell said his car has been waiting at a Fisker-approved repair shop for about 10 weeks.

The technicians have taken anything from door handles and windshields to tires, seat sensors, or body-control modules out of the vehicles to put on customers' cars, three of the employees said.

To date, no customer-safety issues have been publicly linked to the issue.

The process of taking parts from cars off one vehicle to use for a different one is not unheard of in the automotive industry. Michael Crossen, an automotive technician at Consumer Reports, told BI he's seen it happen occasionally over the years — typically as a courtesy for customers to avoid long wait times for parts.

"It's certainly not a daily occurrence, but I've seen it a few times over the years," Crossen said, adding that parts that are coded to a car's Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, would be more difficult to swap between cars.

Daniel Blinn, the managing attorney of Consumer Law Group in Connecticut, told BI that depending on the situation, it can be acceptable for an automaker to use parts from another vehicle to avoid long wait times for customers. But the process could become murky if the customer is not informed of the swap or a part is not matched perfectly to a vehicle, he said.

Fisker has been facing headwinds in recent months. The EV startup has delivered about 6,000 Fisker Oceans to date, according to an internal metric viewed by BI. Earlier this year, Fisker lowered its prices by as much as 39%.

The company has warned it could go out of business by the end of the year. Last week, Fisker said in a regulatory filing it had just $54 million in cash as of April 16, and the company is trying to pay off a loan that it has defaulted on. On Monday, the company notified staff that they could face layoffs in two months. Fisker's CEO previously told staff that the startup was in talks with four different automakers regarding a potential buyout.

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