It’s been a few years since Henrik Fisker announced the Fisker Ocean and a full year since production was originally supposed to begin. And yet, against all odds, the Fisker Ocean is officially in production, with the first one rolling off the line today in Graz, Austria.
As Bloomberg reports, the odds really were stacked against Fisker, Inc. The company was so strapped for cash, Henrik Fisker and his wife/co-founder Geeta Gupta-Fisker had to stop drawing a salary and furlough workers. And that was right before the pandemic started, which only made the situation worse.
There was a good chance that would have been the end of Fisker. But in late 2020, it merged with a special purpose acquisition company backed by a huge private equity firm that gave Fisker a billion dollars in cash. Combined with a deal to have Magna Steyr handle production, the company didn’t just avoid bankruptcy. It actually managed to begin production on an actual car, something Faraday Future still hasn’t done.
“We’ve been able to avoid mistakes that are only unavoidable if you know them, and I knew them,” Fisker told Bloomberg. “The experience that I had by having done this once before is invaluable.”
He was, of course, referring to his previous car company, Fisker Automotive, which filed for bankruptcy back in 2013. Its first car, the Fisker Karma, was interesting on paper but had some terrible design flaws. Hurricane Sandy also dealt Fisker a bad hand, ruining 300 production cars worth $30 million. Even if they’d been delivered to customers, it still reportedly lost $35,000 on every car it sold between 2011 and 2012.
It’s safe to say mistakes were made. But this time around, Fisker says its deal with Magna means its production cost for the first car was the same as it will be for its 40,000th car since it didn’t have to build a brand new factory that won’t be fully in use as production gradually ramps up. And we do mean gradually.
Fisker says it plans to only build 15 Oceans this year, and only increase output to about 300 in the first quarter of next year before bumping it up in Q2 to 8,000. By the end of the year, the plan is to have built 42,400 cars. We’ll have to see if that actually happens, but for now, it does make a great comeback story.