Just weeks away from the launch of the Ocean SUV, we interviewed Henrik Fisker about the future of his brand. The projects are numerous and the entrepreneur plans to launch affordable models.
Fisker’s renaissance is on its way with its Ocean SUV. 4.77 m long, this SUV has a size similar to that of a Tesla Model Y, but a lower entry-level price, from €41,900. At this price, we have a range of 430 km according to the WLTP cycle. Prices will go up to €89,999 for the fully equipped Launch Edition One, which has the largest battery allowing a standardized range of 630 km. Production, ensured in Austria by Magna, should begin in November 2022, with first deliveries in France scheduled for April 2023. During his visit to Paris, we met Henrik Fisker to discuss the future of this new Mark.
What happened between the end of Fisker Automotive and the start of Fisker Inc.?
We were pioneers with the Karma, which was launched a year before the Tesla Model S. At the time, no one but us was talking about sustainable materials and vegan interiors. Then we were dragged down by the bankruptcy of our battery supplier. I then had different projects for clean, ecological models. I wanted to focus on an affordable car that offers value for money. To do this, we had to rethink development, production, the mode of distribution… With these ideas, we were able to develop a model in two and a half years, whereas the norm in the automotive industry is four years. We are approaching the development time of the smartphone industry. This is an advantage for responsiveness: the technologies that will be in our model marketed in the fall were chosen last year. Then we chose our industrial partner, Magna, which holds 6% of our capital. Finally, the third step was to launch the online sales system.
Fisker news today revolves around the ocean. Why did you choose to enter the market with a mid-size SUV, which is one of the segments where there is the most competition?
The segment that is saturated is that of super cool electric cars over €100,000. Super cool electric cars at €40,000, which is the case with the most affordable version of our Ocean, there are none. It seems that we have found the right formula, since we already have 43,000 online reservations, and among the customers, 70% have never had an electric car before.
What do you think are the specificities that make the Ocean stand out?
The first is its design. This remains one of the main criteria for buying a car. Then, its respect for the environment. We wanted to create the most durable car on the market, to contribute to a cleaner world. That’s why we have a vegan interior, for example. And it doesn’t stop there: autonomy is the best in this price category, a roof fitted with solar panels, “California mode” which allows all the windows to be rolled down at the same time, a central rotating screen which can be placed in portrait or landscape mode, a sophisticated variable torque distribution between the front and rear axle…
Interview – Our extraordinary meeting with Henrik Fisker who reveals all his ambitions
What platform did you decide to use?
There were discussions with the Volkswagen Group to use their MEB platform, but we finally decided to develop our own, with Magna. This bears the name FM29, it uses aluminum to limit weight. On the other hand, the body is made of steel to ensure reasonable repair costs. The battery is included in a skateboard specifically designed to maximize the volume dedicated to the cells in a given space, and therefore increase the capacity.
You present the Ocean as a luxury SUV, but its base price is lower than the Skoda Enyaq, which is one of the least expensive models in its category. How do you come up with such prices when you don’t own the factory?
It is precisely because I am not the owner of the factory that I get this price! When you have your own factory, you have to run it 24 hours a day to make it profitable. Our contract with Magna is much more economical! We don’t have any dealers either: in France, we’re going to content ourselves with a showroom in Paris and large delivery and test centers outside the towns. During the interviews, the cars will be collected from the customer, who will be provided with an Uber voucher. All of this saves us around €10,000 per car.
Why did you choose CATL for the supply of the battery? Do you intend to approach other suppliers to reduce risks in the supply chain?
We have two cell technologies: LFP for the entry-level model and NMC for the Long Range version. Our supply agreement covers twelve months, and we obviously check at any time whether it is more relevant to change technology or supplier.
Do you plan to build a Fisker factory in the future?
Never say never, but we are still in the start-up phase. And Tesla’s difficulties prove that it doesn’t necessarily make sense to start from scratch to build a factory. This is why we have entered into an agreement with Foxconn for the production of our second model, which will be launched in 2025 and will require greater production capacities. Here too, we will invest in research and development, not in production.
What will differentiate your second model, the Pear, from the Ocean?
It will be a smaller, cheaper car. Around €30,000. It will be less luxurious than the Ocean, it will truly be a model designed for megalopolises, aimed at a younger clientele. The design will be really different from what we know. It will be a real spaceship on wheels, not everyone will like. But his style will be iconic. The interior will also be unique, with a wraparound windshield like that of a fighter jet. This will be our vision of the personal mobility of the future.
It’s a bit reminiscent of BMW’s speech to announce the i3…
It won’t be as small as the i3, it will be more of a crossover. And what is important is that it will be an affordable model. Probably with a lower autonomy than the Ocean. When the Pear comes out, the mentality around electric cars will certainly have changed, people will be familiar with battery ranges and capacities. And its LFP battery can be charged in 15 minutes. For a second car, it will therefore be possible to reduce their size, which will limit the environmental impact during manufacture. But, of course, we will also offer a long-range model.
Where are the other projects that you have presented? Emotion, Orbit and Alaska?
The Orbit was above all an autonomous shuttle concept car, which was fashionable when everyone imagined that the autonomous car would be for tomorrow. This is no longer the case. The Emotion was the announcement of another future model, the Ronin, which we are designing with the British design office Magic Works. It will be a supercar, a four-door convertible, with a range of 1,000 km. As for the Alaska pickup… If we ever make a pickup, it will be relatively small. The market for electric pick-ups is saturated.
Fisker Ronin, an electric sports car for 2024 announced with record autonomy
How do you see the future of battery technology? Do you think it will go through the solid batteries on which you have worked for a while?
We have completely abandoned solid-state batteries, and I don’t see anything concrete coming before 2030… The real problem is to produce millions of cells every day, at an affordable price. How many companies have invented new fuels? But the batteries are to be compared to the fuel. They must be mass produced and at low cost. At present, manufacturers have not yet managed to agree on the size of the batteries, or at least to standardize the modules. Only then can we have mass production. How is it possible to lower prices if several technologies coexist? Standardization is one thing, integration is another. Today, batteries are built into cars like they were in a Nokia phone, in a drawer. We must push the integration further, directly into the chassis to maximize capacity.