Mystery surrounds potential Fisker partner
The automaker has inked logistics and distribution deals but no clarity on the third party that could accelerate its route to market
Eponymous CEO Henrik Fisker repeated at his company’s third quarter results call, as trailed several times previously, that the firm is exploring partnering with another company to "get products to market faster”. But some analysts are pessimistic about the prospects of Fisker getting a material leg-up.
"We have strong demand, and I expect us to keep growing with a potential strategic partner in the works where we can go even faster", the CEO said on last week's call.
This echoes what he told EV inFocus at IAA Mobility in Munich in September, when he said that “what we are looking for is a partner that can help us bring [Fisker’s three models] faster to market”.
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To that end, Fisker is already branching out into partnerships with logistics and distribution partners. “The company has also added multiple transportation logistics partners to quickly move Fisker Oceans to delivery locations so that they can be delivered to customers more rapidly,” the automaker said on Friday as it announced that it had hit over 100 vehicle deliveries in a day, to the tune of $7.5mn in revenue.
But Fisker’s main priority seems to be a partnership on route to market. And there remains little clarity on the identity of said partner.
“Our objective is, ‘how can we get our vehicles quicker to market, as quick as possible?’” the CEO told EV inFocus in September. In terms of what type of collaboration that might be, Fisker hints that the desired synergies may involve shared or licensed technology.
“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,” he says.
Pavel Molchanov, automotive analyst at bank Raymond James, looks to Fisker’s pre-existing commercial partnerships for clues. “Fisker already has plans to work with [Taiwanese technology firm] Foxconn for manufacturing the Pear vehicle in the US, although the details of this arrangement have yet to be spelled out,” Molchanov says.
“Foxconn owns the former Lordstown Motors factory in Ohio, but it is unclear whether this is where the Pear will be produced.”
It may not only be in manufacturing and/or selling EVs where Fisker talks about bringing products more quickly to the market. “As it relates to charging, Fisker has a partnership with Allego in Europe. Similarly, Fisker has a partnership with Ample for swappable batteries,” Molchanov points out.
Chris Pierce, analyst at financial services firm Needham, is not optimistic that any new deal will have a material positive impact for Fisker. “I do not know that I see this going anywhere, and [a new partner] is a negative read on the potential to work with Foxconn,” he cautions.
“I do not know that Fisker can bring the volumes to make this material to any OEM. And as such the OEM would want to extract guarantees to raise their margin of safety, which would hurt the Fisker margin story — which is the only positive bulls can still hang their hat on here,” Pierce continues.
Another priority for the EV maker is lowering costs, all the more pressing if it wants to make good on its pledge to sell its Pear SUV for under $30,000 and make a profit on it. It could therefore mean that the partnerships Fisker’s management is teasing will involve that buying licensed technology for the Pear, which the firm would then hope to leverage to bring down costs so it can sell the car for its marquee sub-$30,000 promise.
One standout shape of such a deal would be Fisker purchasing LFP batteries from Chinese firms — perhaps Catl’s Shenxing battery, which promises market leading range and charge times, and will cost the automaker less than purchasing NCM batteries or building out its own battery production operation.
The battery makes up approximately two-thirds of an EV’s costs, and Fisker has thus far not revealed what battery the affordable Pear will have, only saying that there will be two battery options.
“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,” CEO Fisker says.
Analysts are still wary of the Pear price promise, even if a potential partner with useful technology hoves into view. “It will not be easy for Fisker to get to, and sustain the targeted price point,” Molchanov warns.
“Even allowing for lower battery costs by 2025, sub-$30,000 pricing is clearly the exception rather than the rule. There are lots of other cost variables that may end up leading to a higher price point, such as steel and labour,” he continues.