Henrik Fisker is a car designer. I think many of his designs are great. The BMW Z8, in particular, looks like a car designed by Henrik Fisker while also looking like a car designed to be a 507 while also being a car that James Bond could drive that wasn’t a 7-Series. We can forever debate who made BMW’s design what it is today (more an accusation, really), but I don’t think you can blame Henrik Fisker
Henrik Fisker is a car company executive. I don’t know that you could argue that any of his companies have been great. The original Fisker Automotive went bankrupt after a series of bad luck, bad timing, and bad reviews. As a matter of disclosure: In my previous job I reported repeatedly on their failures. The story I wrote about a number of cars getting soaked by Superstorm Sandy and catching on fire led to one of the PR minders for the company blaming me for destroying the company (we later buried the hatchet and I like this person and understand why they were upset).
The Fisker Karma, which is the first eco-car he made, still sort of exists underneath the now Chinese-owned Karma brand, which keeps trying to sell the design. It remains to be seen if they will be successful, but they’re there.
No matter what happens, though, Fisker has never stopped trying to make environmentally friendly cars. Making cars is hard. Making mass market EVs at is hard, which is why we focus on Tesla even though Nissan is out there every day trying to get people to buy a Leaf, which is a fine car.
So when I reminded today that Fisker was pairing with Magna to build its latest endeavor, the all-electric Ocean, I was pleased. Magna is a real company. They make cars, or parts of cars, for many many people. If you’ve driven in a car built in the last 20 years you’ve probably been in a car that was touched by one of Magna’s arms at some point.
The key detail on this, which has been reported before, is that the EV will be using Magna’s “FM29” lightweight EV platform. Fisker is hoping to start their car around $40,000 but, as I said earlier, making cars is hard. Just do a Google search for “Tesla recall” any day of the week. How do you possibly make an EV that looks that good and is that cheap?
Well, having one of the biggest makers of vehicles and vehicle systems underpinning your EV is a great way to make sure your EV gets built. And Magna, smartly, seems happy being a white label builder of cars. While the Fisker Ocean is getting all the attention right now it’s unlikely to be the only car to have this platform. Once Magna gets good at making the platform, well, any car could be an electric car and the barrier-to-entry gets a lot lower.
It’s interesting to imagine a world where making an electric car is, if not easy, then less hard. Thanks to Elon Musk we can certainly imagine a world where it’s easy to sell an electric car. Hell, even Will Ferrel is on the job.
And, I mean, if Fisker could do it…