Chris DaviesCar and Driver
- The Fisker Ocean electric crossover is coming in late 2022, Henrik Fisker told Car and Driver, but Fisker’s not focusing on manufacturing so much as design and software development.
- The Ocean has a California mode that, among other things, will let you roll down all windows at once, including the hatch glass—a rare feat for an SUV.
- There are still lots of details yet to be announced, such as power and platform (the latter will be sourced outside Fisker).
Henrik Fisker has learned a few things over his career. Like that it’s a lot more fun to design a cool car than it is to manufacture one. So his next car, the Ocean, is going to outsource that second part to the greatest extent possible, leaving Fisker to concentrate on design and software, two major factors in EV differentiation. “We think of the future of automotive the way Apple thought of phones,” he says. “Tim Cook isn’t walking the factory floor at Foxconn. We’re going to outsource the manufacturing. The OEMs haven’t perfected the electric car, but they’ve perfected manufacturing, so why not take advantage of that?” If Fisker has an eye on Apple’s business model, he’s also paid attention to Tesla’s, and apparently would prefer to avoid joining Elon Musk in manufacturing hell.
Which leaves him free to concentrate on, say, California mode. That’s a patented feature (which may or may not be included on the base Ocean) that lowers all the windows at the touch of a button. That seems like an easy enough thing to execute, but there’s a reason that the only SUVs with roll-down hatch glass are the slab-sided Toyota Sequoia and 4Runner. “It’s difficult to do because you have to have the exact geometry for the window to roll down,” Fisker says. “It’s curved in two dimensions and you have to be sure it seals, and it’s damped so the window won’t shatter if the hatch is slammed.” That feature could come in handy for carrying long items, and dogs will undoubtedly love it. And if Fisker adds a third row, the roll-down rear quarter-windows will help make that less claustrophobic.
Fisker hasn’t yet announced specs on power but the Ocean will be rear-drive or AWD, with different options for range and horsepower (the standard AWD model will have more than 300 horsepower). The quickest model will do zero to 60 in around three seconds and likely push $70,000. “But not everybody needs to do zero to 60 in three seconds to take the kids to school, so the base price is very aggressive,” he says. There’ll also be a flexible lease program with no defined term—pay a $2,999 activation fee and then it’s $379 per month for as long as you care to keep the vehicle. That price includes full service and maintenance, because Fisker intends to keep leasing its cars for years. “If you could lease a five-year-old car that has a full warranty and has been maintained by the OEM, that could be an attractive option for some people,” he says.
Fisker hasn’t announced which platform will underpin the Ocean. But that, too, will be outsourced from a major manufacturer. And he’s betting that nobody will care. “The underlying hardware, the platform, will be a commodity in the future. There are a lot of things that used to be important that aren’t anymore. All EV platforms are stiff. Nobody can hear the difference in motors. Companies are already sharing battery cells because there are only three or four suppliers that make them. And there’s going to be a lot more sharing. So your differentiation will come from design and software. We’re replacing engine sound and shifting gears with giving customers other experiences inside the vehicle.”
Brand identity will also assume increased importance, and Fisker is banking on sustainability as his calling card. What, exactly, that really means remains to be seen. But the Ocean will have a vegan interior and use recycled materials like rubber and polyester for trim. Solar panels adorn the roof, and the Ocean will offer an extremely aggressive regen mode for drivers who want to eek out every last mile per kilowatt-hour.
“I think we should have the freedom to use our private transportation but also breathe the cleanest air possible,” Fisker says. “Everybody should contribute and I’m in the car industry, so I can contribute in my way. I think we can do this is a way where we don’t lose anything. It’s not a sacrifice.”
Fisker recently opened an engineering center in downtown San Francisco and is planning for the Ocean to go into production in the fourth quarter of 2022.
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