Henrik Fisker takes another turn in luxury car making – car and driver | Car Plazas
Markus Urbanocar and driver
From the February/March 2022 issue car and driver.
Henrik Fisker’s most iconic designs were chic BMWs and Aston Martins, and the Fisker Karma was a sporty sedan. So it might seem like a leap to go from high-end toys to the Fisker Ocean, an upcoming affordable electric SUV, but he says it’s a smart choice. “The best-selling segment in the world is SUVs. I have designed many luxury cars. I don’t have to prove that we can design a sports car. other companies [making EVs], they make $100,000 vehicles. This segment will look crowded.” Austrian manufacturer Magna Steyr builds the Ocean in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations. The base Ocean uses a 275-horsepower engine and offers a range of around 250 miles; All-Wheel Drive Ultra and Extreme trims have two engines with a combined output of 540 and 550 hp respectively. Prices start under $40,000.
Henrik Fisker showed up early. Fisker Automotive’s ill-fated first car, the beautifully designed Karma, was a plug-in hybrid luxury car that beat Tesla’s Model S on the market but succumbed to financial and engineering disasters. He’s ready to try again, with not just one, but several EVs in various stages of production. The Ocean is closest to the market and is scheduled to start shipping in November. There’s a mysterious model called PEAR (Personal Electric Automotive Revolution) that Fisker will only describe as small, affordable, and unlike anything else. A third was just a peppy clay model in his studio at the time of our interview. And Fisker says a fourth design is coming soon. It’s a lot to take on at once, but Fisker says the world is finally ready.
CD: What went wrong with the Fisker Karma?
Fisker: I was early I thought there must be a demand for a really cool, sexy, eco-friendly car. Reclaimed wood from the California fires. A vegan interior that we called EcoChic. It just went through everyone’s mind. We literally had people buying the car and saying, “What’s that plug on the side?” It was an electric vehicle with a range extender, but people didn’t care. They put gas in it – didn’t bother plugging it in, didn’t bother with the scrap wood. That was more than a year before the Tesla Model S was launched.
So there were philosophical challenges, but also mechanical ones, yes?
We took a big technological risk with the battery. This company failed and we couldn’t continue. It wasn’t like today, with many different battery manufacturers. LG worked with GM, Panasonic with Tesla, and then there was A123 Systems, an American startup, which was a big risk. And it turned out to be too risky because they went bankrupt when we put the car on the market.
What is different about the Ocean?
Let’s say there are three basic things I’ve learned from karma. no, four First, timing is everything. Number two, you must have enough money from the beginning to the end of the launch. I didn’t really want to start this program until we had a billion dollars that we raised last year. You can’t build anything start-stop. this will kill you So, number two, take all the money. Third, you need to look at the technology and assess the risk. Battery is the biggest risk in [electric] cars, so we’ve been working closely on a deal with CATL for a long time [Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd., a lithium-ion battery manufacturer].
what is number four
Manufacturing the vehicle – we need a solid manufacturing partner. We ended up with two: Magna Steyr for Ocean and Foxconn for PEAR. I go to a factory where people have been working together for 20 years, where they currently run luxury vehicles. We’re going to go down the same line where BMWs and Toyotas are built by the same people. I mean, if that’s not risk mitigation, then I don’t know what risk mitigation is. The quality of this car is the least risky aspect of the entire program in my view.
Speaking of quality, the initial reaction to the karma was sky high. You have won awards. Then things started to fall apart, both literally and financially. How do you build the confidence to try again?
We got a caning because we had a lot of technical problems. But what I realized during that time was that people were against electrification. They were only against EVs. They wanted to kill it. There have been stories of battery fires, but we have never had a lithium ion battery fire. We had a fan fire. We had flooded cars in port and the insurance company said we had to be above the waterline to get the insurance money. We were an inch below. So there were days when I woke up and thought everything was against me. You want to sink and die in your own sorrow. But you have to decide, do I get up, even if it hurts, or do I stay down? I got up. The only thing I can really do is design a car. I’m not really good at many other things. Well, I’m pretty good at grilling, too, but that’s about it. I love cars and I don’t think we’ll ever get rid of them. I don’t believe in a future where everyone uses public transport. I mean, I grew up with it in Denmark. I never woke up and dreamed of taking the bus. I dreamed of driving – having my own car.