By now, save for only the least informed gearheads, almost everyone has heard Elon Musk has been successful, at least to this point, in his quest to buy Twitter. This development has caused no shortage of natterings in all corners of the internet, with tech blogs suddenly discovering the unpredictable and sometime unfathomable morass that is Musk’s social media presence. Auto journalists have been dealing with such issues for years.
One surprising result of the Twitter buyout? Henrik Fisker, boss of an EV company which ostensibly competes with Tesla, has packed up camp and disappeared.
After clandestine meetings with Pope Francis, Fisker is reportedly going to develop an electric Popemobile — a term the Vatican has repeatedly asked everyone to stop using. Due to arrive next year, the vehicle is supposed to be a heavily modified version of the brand’s upcoming electric Ocean crossover.
Pope Francis has long been presenting himself as a surface-level environmentalist with absolutely terrible taste in automobiles. He added two Toyota Mirais to the Status Civitatis Vaticanae garage in 2020 while predictably flipping a Lamborghini Huracán (built specifically for him by the company) in 2018. His Alleged Holiness is also said to be partial to the Fiat 500L, Nissan Frontier, and Isuzu D-Max — though he frequently rides around in locally produced customs as a way to ingratiate himself with the masses he’s visiting. Provided they’ve met the needs of the trip and cater specifically to the pope’s preferences, he’s not picky.
Despite having never manufactured a single production model, Fisker Inc. is a company reportedly worth billions. On Thursday, the prospective automaker indicated that it was ready to see how much more it could get via an announcement that it had officially completed its business combination Spartan Energy Acquisition Corp — a special purpose acquisition company — and was ready to be publicly traded.
Better call your broker.
Listen, if we could explain to you why technology firms with no product lineups or revenue sources are eligible to receive cash enemas from the stock market, we absolutely would. But the amount of mental gymnastics required to rationalize an answer has surpassed what your author can entertain without risking his own sanity. Special purpose acquisition companies (aka SPACs or “blank check” firms) have exploded in popularity and allowed dozens of businesses going public to rake it in via reverse-mergers this year. Whether it’s economic voodoo or sheer madness, it has become the status quo for IPOs seeking to raise insane amounts of money.
Henrik Fisker, CEO of Fisker Inc., has announced a deal reached with Volkswagen that allows him to use the German company’s MEB architecture to build the all-electric Ocean crossover. While it seems like the platform is going to turn up everywhere before long, the deal hasn’t actually been made official.
Neither Fisker nor VW feels comfortable saying the arrangement had been finalized.
But that couldn’t contain Henrik’s excitement. The Fisker Inc. founder was on social media this week proclaiming the upcoming Ocean would start at just $29,999. Mathematicians will notice this is less than $30,000 and actually pretty damn cheap for an electric crossover, especially one that’s supposed to contain so much luxury and sustainability (the latest in a long line of empty terms used by the industry). The series of 9s at the end of Fisker’s proposed pricing should have tipped you off that there might be some light shenanigans afoot.
As predicted last week, Fisker Inc., the company created by Henrik Fisker that aims to introduce an ultra-eco electric crossover, the Ocean, in 2022, has announced plans to go public.
Again, as expected, Fisker made its move by merging with a blank check company backed by a private equity firm.
The Fisker Ocean electric crossover debuted in Los Angeles over the weekend. Company founder Henrik Fisker claims the model will be competitively priced (for an electric), starting at $37,499. There’s also a subscription service, priced at $379 per month with a $3,000 down payment. Customers receive an allowance of 30,000 miles a year as well as “free” servicing, maintenance, and (presumably) insurance.
Considering Fisker’s track record, having a sales model that allows customers to invest a few grand upfront and cancel at any time might help the Ocean’s take rate. The Fisker name is now synonymous with underdelivering. Poor corporate decisions, combined with plenty of bad luck, ultimately forced the first iteration of the brand to cancel production of the Karma hybrid. Fisker Automotive declared bankruptcy in 2013, with Fisker Inc. emerging in 2016 with more mainstream aspirations.
Fisker recently announced plans to debut the first of three affordable electric vehicles it wants to sell. The model, which founder Henrik Fisker said would be an SUV named Ocean, is scheduled to land on the North American market in 2021. “More info” is coming on November 27th and a near-production prototype is supposed to manifest in January.
The EV was originally supposed to appear in December, making this a modest delay. Normally we wouldn’t bat an eyelash at such a meager postponement, but Fisker has a poor track record for delivering on its promises.
Back when the company was still Fisker Automotive, it was building the Karma. Unfortunately, luxury plug-in hybrid didn’t sell and was plagued with quality issues. This author only recalls seeing one Karma outside of automotive trade shows, parked clumsily at a Massachusetts golf corse during the 2014 PGA Tour. While there were plans for the company to eventually build the more-practical Atlantic with help from BMW, things did not pan out.
Everyone’s favorite Danish designer has put his plans for an electric performance sedan on hold, turning his attention instead to an affordable, mass-market electric SUV.
Half a century ago, the foremost automotive trend was ordinary family cars stuffed to the gills with huge, fuel-sucking V8s. Today, if you’re not planning a bland, long-range EV with a liftgate and a somewhat sensible price, you’re nobody. Henrik Fisker doesn’t want to be a nobody.
While Part I of the Fisker Karma story introduced the car and its tech, and Part II reviewed the interesting combination of features and design mandates which accompanied the advanced tech, Part III is the one you’ve really been waiting for.
It’s all flames, floods, and failures.
To my recollection, we’ve only had one EV-type vehicle thus far in the Rare Rides series, and it was Toyota’s ill-fated and corporately sabotaged RAV4 EV. That changes today, with another plug-in vehicle that crashed and burned.
Today’s Rare Rides is the first installment in a three-part trilogy of the life and times of the Fisker Karma.
The former General Motors Wilmington Assembly Plant, which cranked out Saturns, Oldsmobiles and Pontiacs before falling victim to economic and corporate forces, is looking for a new owner.
This time, however, it wants a buyer that isn’t a luxury plug-in electric car maker that folds before a single vehicle can leave the factory.
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