Fisker Inc Founder Henrik Fisker: A Quality Automaker Goes Electric | Electric, hybrid and low-emission cars
HErik Fisker has no illusions about the difficulty of starting an electric car business from scratch. He should know: his first attempt ended in bankruptcy. The second attempt is going better so far: his company, Fisker Inc, claims to be the only one of a batch of potential Tesla challengers that hasn’t had to push back its production schedule.
“Most startups are pretty naive at first,” he says. “We didn’t have that. We knew it was going to be expensive. We know manufacturing is tough.
Times are tough for electric vehicle startups. After seeing an extraordinary bubble during the coronavirus rebound, their stock values came back down to earth with an almighty thump. Fisker Inc has not been immune: Its market value of $2.3 billion is less than a third of its peak value of nearly $8 billion. Even Tesla is struggling to meet its delivery targets.
Still, Fisker is optimistic. His company has now produced its first vehicles, and buyers of his Ocean SUV will start having them delivered in November. He says the company will “definitely” produce 40,000 cars next year, and possibly as many as 50,000 if it gets the right ramp-up, he says, speaking via video call from California.
Despite spending $228 million in the first half of 2022, Fisker Inc is continuing development of two more cars: a family vehicle called the pear that
Family Married to Geeta Gupta-Fisker, co-founder and chief financial officer of Fisker Inc. He has a daughter who also works at the company and a son who works for a technology company.
Education Primary school in Denmark; ArtCenter College of Design in Vevey, Switzerland.
Pay $56,800 per year. “But again, I own a lot of the business,” he says. “I guess I don’t want to take a salary until we get income and make money.”
Last holidays Half a day on the day of the interview. “I spend an hour with you.
Best advice ever given
“My dad says if you want it bad enough and work hard enough, you can get it. Everything is possible.”
Word he abuses “Great.”
how he relaxes Drawing cars, going to the gym, listening to music – James Bond themed tunes from the late 1960s and early 1970s to the present day. “I think the only thing I don’t listen to is rap.”
will cost less than $30,000 (£27,000) and a “super sexy supercar” designed in the UK and codenamed Project Ronin.
Like the bosses of several other electric car startups, Fisker mixes experience from the traditional auto industry — at BMW and Aston Martin — with an environmentalist approach that easily aligns with the sales pitch of electric cars.
Born in Denmark, he inherited some of his concern for the environment from his parents when he grew up in a village 29 kilometers from Copenhagen. As a child, he spent hours drawing cars and studied at a design school in Switzerland. His first job was at BMW, designing models such as the Z8 roadster, the famous car destroyed by a chainsaw dangling from a helicopter in the James Bond film. The world is not enough. (“It wasn’t a pretty sight for me,” he sighs.)
After BMW, Fisker was recruited by another Bond automaker, Aston Martin, as part of a turnaround plan by then-owner Ford. He designed the DB9 and the smaller Vantage, which, to save costs, shared parts and used the same production line. The Vantage became Aston’s best seller and made Fisker famous in the industry.
Despite this, Fisker Inc did not try to imitate traditional automakers. It will rely on an Austrian subcontractor, Magna Steyr, to build its car in Graz. Fisker attributes this different approach to the influence of his wife.
Fisker met Geeta Gupta-Fisker, who holds a Ph.D. in biotechnology from Cambridge, while working for real estate magnate Vincent Tchenguiz’s investment vehicle. Fisker was looking to invest in its first effort in an electric car company – confusingly named Fisker Automotive.
“No way,” was the response, Fisker said. The personal relationship has improved: they married in 2012. Now they are perhaps the power couple in the auto industry, with Gupta-Fisker as chief financial officer. They listed the stock in New York in October 2020 via a merger with a cash shell that provided the $1 billion it needed to launch its first car.
Using Magna’s factories, supply chains and expertise helped the couple cut costs, so they needed less capital investment and were able to maintain control of the company. It’s a lesson Fisker learned when he launched Fisker Automotive after doing design consultancy, including a stint at Tesla, after leaving Aston Martin.
Fisker now says 2011 was “too soon” to launch a plug-in car, and blames the failure of that effort on the collapse of its battery supplier.
He compares the business model of the new Fisker Inc, which he founded in 2016, to Apple, which also relies on third-party contractors to make iPhones, while the intellectual property and huge revenues stay in California. .
He took the Apple imitation further by partnering with Apple’s main supplier, Taiwanese company Foxconn. He will build the pear in a famous former General Motors factory in Ohio. Fisker has very high hopes for the project, which aims to start production in 2024, making 250,000 cars a year.
“The vehicle is radically different from anything you’ve seen on the road,” he says. The pear will do without, for example, niche features such as adjustable suspension. “Of all the functions of a German luxury car, 70% are never used by the end buyer,” he says. “You pay for all of this even if you never use it.”
Early teaser images of the Pear don’t scream radicalism – it looks like a five-seater sedan. However, what would be almost groundbreaking is the expected price, under $30,000.
“It’s a bit risky, because it’s not something people know about,” he says.
“But on the other hand, we think, I think, and Foxconn thinks now is the time for people to be a bit shocked, to know where the future is going.”