Fisker was one of the first electric vehicle manufacturers, and was started by Henrik Fisker back in 2012. Fisker, who had previous experience in automotive design with both BMW and Aston Martin, attempted to storm the electric car market from 2007 (when he created the company). The flagship electric car that they produced was the $100,000 Fisker Karma back in 2012, which proved to be rather unsuccessful. This led to the company becoming defunct in 2014. However, the company is back now, and with a trend of people buying electric cars developing, in combination with the knowledge he has from his previous attempt – could Fisker be successful this time around?
There are a number of reasons that could allow Fisker to be more successful this time, including:
- A far lower starting price
- SUV vehicle instead of luxury sedan
- Not independent manufacturing
- Taking the company public quickly (merger)
- Being unique as a company (and car)
Lower Starting Price
Now, let’s get down to one of the most important things in anything. That’s the price. Initially back when Henrik started his company Fisker, before Tesla came along, the Fisker Karma was priced at around $100,000. An extortionate price for a car, and the timing wasn’t right either. Firstly, the technology in these electric cars was no where near as advanced as what you see today in Tesla’s for example. One only has to look at the only electric range of 83km (maximum) in a Fisker Karma (it was a hybrid car initially), compared to the ranges found in Teslas today, to realise how far lithium-ion batteries have come.
Either way, the technology has improved tremendously, and the price has come down. This time the Fisker Ocean, the car that is looking most promising will be available starting from $37,499, which makes the car far more affordable for the average person. The other piece of optimism comes from the fact that people are more accepting of having fully electric cars now, as we are gradually moving away petrol or diesel cars, and that the idea is no longer such a daft one…
Bye Bye Sedan, Hello SUV
The electric sedan market has already mainly been captured by Tesla with the flagship Model S, which has widely become renowned as probably the best electric car that one could buy. The infotainment system is great and the car is quick, and drives beautifully. Despite it being expensive, the car is still in demand. So Fisker can’t easily fill that gap. The gap that does appear however is in the SUV market – where the Tesla Model X has failed to really establish itself as the ‘dominant’ electric SUV. The Tesla Model X starts at a price of around $85,000 in the USA and closer to €90,000 in Europe. The car is fast and has a good infotainment system like the Model S, but is far too expensive and a little bit ugly (in many people’s opinions).
Here comes Fisker’s opportunity. The Fisker Ocean, which will ship out likely to celebrity customers towards the end of 2021 (with the rest shipping out across 2022 and 2023), is the perfect SUV to fill this slot. The car looks far better and is definitely significantly cheaper. Below you can see the Fisker Ocean on the left and the Tesla Model X on the right (the same sides apply to the interiors below that). The choice is obviously going to come down to an individual preference, but all I will say is, is the car on the right worth $50,000 more….?
Outsourcing the manufacturing of many parts
After trying to raise a load of capital through funding rounds back in 2011/2012, Fisker learnt that it is better to try and outsource the production of many parts to car companies that already have the factories built. Fisker said “it’s dumb for an EV startup to build their own plant”, citing that the global car industry is already operating at 20% overcapacity. No company names have been mentioned, although Volkswagen has been mentioned a number of times in rumours (which seems highly likely). It seems that the company will partner with other companies to produce the skateboard (the chassis including battery, motor and wheels). It also seems that other parts that will be outsourced include the steering rack, the air-conditioning system and the software and hardware for autonomous driving.
This is better for the company in my opinion, as it allows them to quickly push out cars as they will use companies that already have the plants with massive production lines. A smart move I must say.
Taking the company public more quickly
Instead of doing a load of VC funding rounds like they did in 2011/2012, Fisker plans to raise capital by going public very quickly. This appears that it will be complete by the fourth quarter of 2021. However, the way in which this plan to do this is very smart. Instead of issuign a load of new shares and going through an IPO, they will just merge with an already listed company, Spartan Energy Acquisition Corp ($SPAQ). This will enable them to end up with a valuation of around $2.9 billion very quickly and avoid much of the hassle of doing private funding rounds. This will allow the company to raise capital in a cost-effective and timely manner.
This in combination with the outsourcing of parts should allow the company to get up and running quite quickly, and to try and somewhat compete with Tesla. It is also the perfect time for electric car companies to go public with Tesla and Nikola Motors both rallying hard over recent months (despite some crashes in Tesla’s stock price recently, they are still both on the rise).
Being unique as a company (and a car)
The company has a few tricks up their sleeve, and will attempt to distinguish itself from Tesla in a few ways. Firstly, the car aims to be known as a ‘sustainable car’ with a few parts being made from recycled materials, which is becoming an ever more important aspect to consumers. Furthermore, many people really aren’t a fan of Tesla’s minimalistic interiors and exteriors. Fisker hopes that the cars they will produce will ‘spice it up’ in comparison to Tesla’s ‘boring’ cars. Fisker himself even said, “[they’re] going to be the leader in that, both inside and outside [vehicles] and also the entire user interface on the screens in the interior and how you communicate”.
Previously Fisker wasn’t that well known back in 2011/2012, and with the rise of Tesla as a massive EV producer, the company has a chance to re-establish itself again through the Fisker Ocean next year.
I genuinely believe that Fisker will be successful this time around. Henrik Fisker has learnt from his failures almost a decade ago, and he will come back stronger (and much smarter). Few people knew about Fisker back in 2012, yet now they make far more headlines as people care about electric cars now more than ever before. Through some outsourcing, unique designs, and clever marketing, Fisker will ride the electric vehicle wave into the new decade which will create a springboard for the company to continue to grow.
As long as the company can produce a great car at the price point they say (actually not just talk the talk, but walk the walk), then they will prove to be a great competitor for Tesla in the coming decade.
As usual if you enjoyed the read, let me know your opinion on the company in the comments (I will reply to all).