Although not American I was approached by an old Colleague who I worked with at Lotus cars to consider spending a Year in Finland with a fledgling electric car startup, initially I was very sceptical with thoughts of low rent, lightweight uninspiring plastic boxes on wheels, and almost dismissed it, he suggested I took a quick look at the Fisker website, I did....and my interest was peaked!
I decided to go ahead and make an application - things moved very quickly, a telephone call with VP manufacturing along with Fisker HR and it was done and dusted, I was on my way.
I was working at Bentley at the time, and it was a big decision, but it seemed an amazing opportunity, I had a couple of conversations with a colleague and convinced him that he should consider it too, he did and also decided to go for it.
I arrived late on a Monday afternoon and decided that I'd settle into the hotel, I made a brief call to a Flustered sounding Launch manager and tried to acclimatise to my new surroundings, nothing of interest on Bizarre Finnish television and questionable Wi-Fi, I grabbed a snack and sat in the Bar/reception area of the hotel and waited, after a while people started appearing, in scarves and jackets, heads dusted with snow, speaking with American accents, I can't remember the first person I spoke to, but I think it was one of the BIW engineers, like all the guys I eventually came to know well he was enthused with this great product, but seemed frustrated at the long distance and 'lag' in communications and response from Fisker HQ in SoCal.
Over the next few days and weeks we battled with building both CP 'lite' and CP cars, but somehow got there, piecing together working vehicles with prototype parts along with modified off the shelf components - but this was no different to any other launch I've worked on.
Engineers floated in and out of Finland, some good, some bad, some indifferent, quite a few only once, with the calling from Michigan and a resurging US automotive industry too great to ignore.
There always was a manufacturing core team, these were great guys, Pete, Rich, Julie Sarah, Lenin, Robert, Brian, Azuka and Tony (plus others) - these are people who were in equal turn buzzing with what we were doing with this great car, and pulling their hair out with frustration at what seemed misaligned direction from above.
We were supported by a great team from Valmet, who seemingly could think around any problem - sometimes stifled by bureaucracy, and the complex relationship between Fisker and Valmet, but still smiling after 12, 14 or 16 hour days, Fantastic people.
After what seemed like months and unending pressure to launch the car we finally arrived at Job 1, production proper - were we ready? No I don't think we were, I'll go as far as to say we never built 2 cars the same, all the cars needed lots of re-work and investigation before being cleared to ship, but then again I wouldn't buy any car in it's first six months of production from any manufacturer, they are all full of containments that shouldn't be there!
That being said these were great cars, and we truly produced something new, dynamic and full of passion.
I mentioned the frustration earlier, and for the guys in this group I don't need to explain further. After Job 1 I felt I'd done enough, and spent enough time away from my family and home, and with an offer from a defence company to be part of a team providing a brand new Mine protected vehicle to the British army, I decided to move on, I kept it a surprise for my wife, and arriving home exhausted as usual late on a Friday night, when I said I wasn't going back my Wife actually hopped up and down in our hallway!!
What will I take from my Fisker experience? I was glad to be a part of it (however small) I met some fantastic people - you know who you are, who I will consider friends for the rest of my life - and 1 or two others....well not so much!!