Henrik Fisker (right) looks over the 2016 Destino during the official launch of VLF Automotive at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, on January 12, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron.
Geeta Gupta Fisker said in an interview once that she had not travelled on a plane till 1996 when she flew from Delhi to the UK for further studies. Nearly 25 years later, she is one half of a California-based billionaire couple challenging Tesla’s reign in the electric car space.
The other half is, of course, Henrik Fisker, her husband and eminent car designer. Fisker designed landmark luxury models when he was at BMW and Aston Martin. The BMW Z8, James Bond’s official ride in The World is Not Enough, was a Fisker creation. He was also a consultant at Tesla.
In 2007, Fisker struck out on his own and launched the Karma, a splashy $100,000-plus plug-in car that was celebrated as an aesthetic and environmental breakthrough. But his fortunes turned. A combination of technical glitches in the car (the battery supplier recalled all batteries), natural disaster (Hurricane Katrina) and differences with the Board forced Fisker to resign from the company to shut in 2013.
Now Fisker is coming back to the ring, like Bond in a new film, and potentially challenging the man and brand who he once worked with, Elon Musk and Tesla. The Dane is working on a car that would be a stylish yet affordable alternative to Tesla. Called the Fisker Ocean, the battery-powered SUV is targeted to arrive in showrooms next year with a price tag of about $37,500.
The cost is where Geeta, the CFO, enters the picture.
“One thing that’s on Geeta’s plate is to take more of the cost out,” Henrik told Forbes in an interview published in December. “One of the things on my plate is to ensure that we have a stellar product.”
Raised in India, Geeta did a Ph.D. in biotechnology from Cambridge University and then worked on international investments for Lloyds Banking Group. She married Fisker in 2012, after his divorce from his first wife.
“I grew up in a middle-class, business-focused family in India, where my father worked tirelessly – all hours of the day,” Geeta said in an interview. “He was working from the moment that I woke up, all the way to the moment that I went to bed. Our family dinners were like board meetings: We talked about news, politics, business and potential opportunities. I loved numbers and helping my father with mundane tasks in the business. I think that’s where I developed my drive and ambition.”
The Fiskers not only have their projects to worry about, but also Geeta’s health. When they were preparing for their company’s eventually successful IPO last July, she was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. “She got the call (from her doctor) during a call with investors,” Henrik told Forbes.
Geeta underwent treatment and said she was cancer-free. “It was a couple of months of downtime from a movement perspective, but I'm recovering and much better.”
Henrik said, “She only missed something like one day of work...That's just how she is. She works tirelessly.”
He must hope his cars show similar battery power.