Within weeks of 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 rebirth is coming with its Ocean SUV. 4.77m long, this SUV is similar in size to a Tesla Model Y, but a lower base price, starting at € 41,900. At this price, we have a range of 430 km according to the WLTP cycle. Prices will go up to 89,999 euros for the fully equipped Launch Edition One, which has the largest battery allowing for a standard range of 630km. La production, assurée en Autriche par Magna, devrait débuter en November 2022, avec des premières livraisons en France prévues pour avril 2023. Lors de son passage à Paris, nous avons rencontré Henrik Fisker pour qu’il nous évoque avenir de cette nouvelle brand.

What happened between the end of Fisker Automotive and the start of Fisker Inc.?

We pioneered the Karma, 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. Then I had several designs for clean and eco-friendly models. I wanted to focus on an economy car that offered good value for money. To do this, we had to rethink the development, the production, the way of distribution … With these ideas, we were able to develop a model in two and a half years, while the norm in the automotive industry is four years. We are approaching the development times of the smartphone industry. This is a plus for responsiveness: the technologies that will be in our model released 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 the launch of the online sales system.

Fisker’s news today revolves around the ocean. Why did you choose to enter the market with a midsize SUV, which is one of the segments where there is more competition?

The most saturated segment is that of super cool electric cars over 100,000 euros. Super cool electric cars at € 40,000, as in the case of the cheaper version of our Ocean, there are none. It seems we have found the right formula, as we already have 43,000 online bookings and, of customers, 70% have never had an electric car before.

What do you think are the specificities that distinguish the ocean?

The first is its design. This remains one of the main criteria for buying a car. Then respect for the environment. We wanted to create the toughest 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 range, a roof equipped with solar panels, “California mode” that allows you to lower all the windows at the same time, a central rotating screen that can be positioned in portrait or landscape mode , a sophisticated variable distribution of torque between the front and rear axles …

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Which platform did you decide to use?

There were discussions with the Volkswagen Group to use their MEB platform, but we ultimately decided to develop our own, with Magna. This bears the name FM29, 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 thus increase the capacity.

You present the Ocean as a luxury SUV, but its base price is lower than that of the Skoda Enyaq, which is one of the least expensive models in its class. How do you find such prices when you are not the owner of the factory?

It is precisely because I am not the owner of the factory that I receive 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 cheaper! We don’t even have dealers: in France we are satisfied with a showroom in Paris and large delivery and testing centers outside the city. During the interviews, the cars will be collected from the customer, who will receive an Uber voucher. All this saves us around 10,000 euros per car.

Why did you choose CATL for battery supply? Do you intend to turn to other suppliers to reduce risks in the supply chain?

We have two cellular technologies: LFP for the entry-level model and NMC for the Long Range version. Our supply contract lasts twelve months, and of course we check at all times if it is more relevant to change technology or supplier.

Are you planning to build a Fisker factory in the future?

Never say never, but we are still in the start-up phase. And Tesla’s struggles show that it doesn’t necessarily make sense to start over to build a factory. For this we have entered into an agreement with Foxconn for the production of our second model, which will be launched in 2025 and will require more 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 and cheaper car. Approximately € 30,000. It will be less luxurious than the Ocean, it will really be a model designed for megacities, 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 it. 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.

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’s 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 surely have changed, people will be familiar with range and battery capacity. And its LFP battery can be charged in 15 minutes. For a second car it will therefore be possible to reduce its size, which will limit the environmental impact during production. But, of course, we will also offer a long-range model.

Where are the other projects you presented? Emotion, Orbit and Alaska?

The Orbit was primarily an autonomous shuttle concept car, which was all the rage when everyone imagined the self-driving 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’s going to be relatively small. The electric pickup market is saturated.

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How do you see the future of battery technology? Do you think it will go through the solid batteries you’ve been working on for a while?

We have completely abandoned solid state batteries and I see nothing 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 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 in this way can we have mass production. How is it possible to lower prices if multiple technologies coexist? Standardization is one thing, integration is another. Today, batteries are built into cars like a Nokia phone, in a drawer. We need to push integration further, directly into the chassis to maximize capacity.

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