Interview – Our extraordinary meeting with Henrik Fisker, who reveals all his ambitions

Just a few weeks 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 models at affordable prices.

Fisherman’s Renaissance is on its way with its Ocean SUV. 4.77 m long, this SUV has a size similar to a Tesla Model Y, but a lower entry 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 that allows a standardized range of 630 km. Production, secured in Austria by Magna, was to begin in November 2022, with the 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 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 pulled down by the bankruptcy of our battery supplier. I had so many different projects for clean, organic models. I wanted to focus on an affordable car that provides 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 of two and a half years, while the norm in the automotive industry is four years. We are approaching the development time for the smartphone industry. This is an advantage for responsiveness: the technologies that will be in our model marketed this fall were chosen last year. Then we chose our industrial partner, Magna, which owns 6% of our capital. Finally, the third step was to launch the online sales system.

Fishing news today revolves around the sea. Why did you choose to enter the market with a medium-sized 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 for € 40,000, which is the case with the most affordable version of our Ocean, there is none. It seems that we have found the right formula, as 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 special conditions that make the sea stand out?

The first is its design. This remains one of the main criteria for buying a car. Then there is respect for the environment. We wanted to create the most durable car on the market, to contribute to a cleaner world. Therefore, we have e.g. a vegan interior. And it does not stop there: autonomy is the best in this price category, a roof mounted with solar panels, “California mode”, which allows to roll down all windows at the same time, a central rotating screen, which can be placed in portrait or landscape condition, a sophisticated variable torque distribution between front and rear axle …

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Interview – Our extraordinary meeting with Henrik Fisker, who reveals all his ambitions

Which platform did you choose to use?

There were discussions with the Volkswagen Group about using their MEB platform, but we eventually decided to develop our own, with Magna. This is called 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 specially designed to maximize the volume dedicated to the cells in a given space, and therefore increase capacity.

You present the Ocean as a luxury SUV, but its base price is lower than the Skoda Enyaq, which is one of the cheapest models in its category. How do you arrive at such prices when you do not own the factory?

It is precisely because I am not the owner of the factory that I get this award! 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 also have no dealers: in France we have to make do with a showroom in Paris and large delivery and test centers outside the cities. During the conversations, the cars will be picked up at the customer’s, who will be given an Uber voucher. All this saves us around € 10,000 per. car.

Why did you choose CATL to supply the battery? Do you intend to turn to 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 delivery agreement covers 12 months, and we naturally check at any time whether it is more relevant to change technology or supplier.

Do you have plans 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 does not necessarily make sense to start from scratch to build a factory. Therefore, 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 capacity. Here, too, we will invest in research and development, not in production.

What will separate your other model, the Bulb, from the sea?

It will be a smaller, cheaper car. Around € 30,000. It will be less luxurious than the sea, it will really be a model designed for megalopolis, 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 an enclosing windshield as on a fighter jet. This will be our vision of the personal mobility of the future.

It’s a bit like BMW’s talk to announce the i3 …

It will not be as small as the i3, it will be more of a crossover. And the important thing is that it becomes an affordable model. Probably with a lower autonomy than the sea. When the bulb comes out, the mentality around electric cars will definitely have changed, people will be familiar with battery range and capacity. And its LFP battery can be charged in 15 minutes. For another 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? Emotions, Orbit and Alaska?

Above all, the Orbit was an autonomous shuttle concept car, which was in vogue when everyone imagined that the autonomous car would be there for tomorrow. This is no longer the case. The Emotion was the announcement of another future model, Ronin, which we are designing with the UK design firm 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 market for electric pick-ups 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 that you have been working on for a while?

We have completely abandoned solid-state batteries and I do not see anything concrete coming before 2030 … The real problem is producing millions of cells every day at an affordable price. How many companies have invented new fuels? But the batteries need 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 exist side by side? Standardization is one thing, integration is another. Today, batteries are built into cars, as they were in a Nokia phone, in a drawer. We need to push the integration further, directly into the chassis to maximize capacity.

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