Fisker makes headway on deliveries and production
Eponymous CEO Henrik Fisker tells EV inFocus of progress on multiple fronts
More Fisker customers are getting their cars, still at healthy margins, in an increasing number of locations. Production is increasing with supplier bottlenecks a thing of the past.
It is little wonder that Henrik Fisker, CEO of the US EV pure play that bears his name, was in buoyant mood when EV inFocus spoke to him at Munich’s IAA Mobility conference earlier this month. The Dutch auto executive founded the firm, along with his wife and CFO Geeta Gupta-Fisker in 2016, establishing headquarters in Manhattan Beach, California.
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With the start of production and sales of the first Fisker model, the Ocean, in the second quarter, and three more models already announced — the Ronin sports car, Alaska e-pickup and Pear city car — it has been a busy few months for the firm. Fisker also offers updates on his ambitions in China and India, as well as discussions with potential partners.
In Fisker’s Q2 results, you talked about deliveries increasing to thousands per day as vehicles in transit reached customers. Can you say how deliveries are currently shaping up?
Fisker: It is going really well. I mean, obviously, we would like everything to go even faster. But I think now we are up to a pace where we are really delivering cars every day.
We have I do not know how many arriving in the US, but it is a lot of new ports now that are coming in.
And we are even entering UK this month. We already got some first couple of right-hand drive cars over to England. And you know, we planned that from the beginning, so it was fairly easy to get that done.
And how is production trending towards your 300/day target?
Fisker: I think we are up to 300 this week.
Has the bottleneck issue with one particular supplier you highlighted in the Q2s been resolved?
Fisker: That one is solved. But I do not think the automotive industry is completely out of the woods yet. There is still a little bit of a Covid hangover.
You still see a few suppliers here and there struggling; it is not 100pc back, and I am not talking just about us, I am talking generally in the automotive industry.
As sales grow, are you still seeing the strong positive margins and how confident are you on the 8-12pc forecast for 2023 as a whole?
Fisker: Very comfortable. The great thing is we are maybe the only start-up that actually makes money on our cars in the first year. It is hard, but we are, and it is great. You see money coming in, we serve revenue.
You are heading to India in Q4 and China next year. What is the attraction of those two, very different markets?
Fisker: I think India is a unique market as there is a lot of very low-cost cars there, but I think that, with India, there is that potential there at some point in time. They are going to start exploding a bit because it is an up-and-coming economy.
I think it will be interesting to be in there early on and put your brand out. So, it is a little bit of a brand building exercise; we are only planning a hundred, just to get in there first.
For China, that will be a big market. Eventually, we will also need to manufacture in China, for China, obviously. We will be starting to import the Ocean next year and we are setting up a showroom this year. Again, we are building the brand early, before just throwing all the cars in there as well. Because obviously you have got a lot of competition in China.
If you divide China into three types of vehicles: you have the local Chinese vehicles, then you have the foreign traditional OEMs, and then you have the foreign start-ups.
In terms of foreign start-ups, there is only one in China right now, that is Tesla. So, we would be the second one. I think that could be unique for us.
Have you been able to maintain the buzz on orders around the Alaska you mentioned after your product vision day?
Fisker: We have now had more than 2,000. Every day we get orders on all of the cars, but Alaska was a little more than we expected. Also we were not expecting to get orders from Europe, which we have. So now we are planning also to sell the vehicle in Europe.
Both the Pear and the Alaska have notably low planned price tags. How do you counter any scepticism around the high-quality sub-$30,000 EV plan in the absence of a clear narrative of how you get those platform costs down?
Fisker: We have, on purpose, not announced everything around the Pear because we do not want to give everything away to our competitors just yet. Because it is still a couple of years out.
But what we did announce was that one of the biggest contributors to the lower cost is we have done an all-steel body with 35pc less parts.
It has things that we just took out because we felt, ‘why does it even need to be in there?’ For example, there is no glove compartment because we do not think people wear gloves anymore when they drive, and if they do, I do not remember anybody putting them in a glove compartment.
So we said, 'let us forget about that and let us just make a lot of great storage space.' One of the things in the Pear is we do not have any movable parts except for the seats and steering wheel. We do not have the centre console, those are all expensive things and we just said, 'let us throw that out and let us make some other things.'
You talked in the Q2s about discussions with potential partners. Can you say any more about what sort of firms you are talking to and how those discussions are currently going?
Fisker: We have got three great vehicles. We have got a lot of people interested in them. So, what we are looking for is a partner that can help us bring them faster to market.
We are talking to multiple [parties], so I cannot really say anything yet about who it will be, because we have not decided. But our objective is, ‘how can we get our vehicles quicker to market, as quick as possible?’
The second objective is if there are some synergies with a partner — maybe we share some of our technology, maybe some of our platforms, whatever it might be. I think what has changed with electric cars and customers is that it makes a lot more sense to share when you are in the electric car industry.
Because, in the old days, when you thought about a gasoline car, you thought, ‘oh, my engine sounds different than that guy's engine.’ For an electric car, nobody can hear anything. And the battery is a battery. We are sharing cells [because] there is nobody making their own battery cells. I mean, you might be making them, but it is either Panasonic, LG Chem, Catl, Samsung, it is the same cells.
So, there is a point where certain things can be shared and therefore you can scale and lower the cost. One of the things everybody in the industry wants and needs to do is lower the cost of the electric car.
Right now, if you go out and look at electric cars, there are a lot of cool ones but they are all very expensive. So how do we get to the lower price and get that market?
Because that market has not really been developed yet. That is going to be the next big milestone.