Henrik Fisker, the CEO of his eponymous EV company, rang the opening bell at the NYSE today to mark a huge milestone for the company.
Last week at contract manufacturer Magna’s sprawling plant in Graz, Austria, the company began initial production of its Ocean EV SUV.
Fisker (FSR) forecasts production in Austria to initially hit 300 vehicles in Q1 of 2023, with a “rapid increase” to 8,000 vehicles in Q2. After that 15,000 cars will follow in Q3, and in Q4 the factory will ramp up to nearly 20,000 cars produced, ending with 42,400 for the year.
“We are planning a total of 42,400 cars next year, which is quite a lot for a EV startup, probably double as much as anybody has done,” Fisker said in an interview with Yahoo Finance from the floor of the NYSE.
“We have worked with the biggest contract manufacturer of cars in the world and they know how to ramp up; our suppliers have been selected together so we have diligent suppliers and quite frankly, they worked really hard with us to get up to speed,” he said.
The ramp up into production has come across the backdrop of parts shortages across the supply chain in the auto industry — from chips to molded parts. But Fisker believes the shortages may be a thing of the past.
“So we work through the supply chain crisis this year; we have seen all the suppliers in a much better state than they were three months ago,” he said about suppliers on board for the factory in Austria. “So at this point in time, we don't see any supply chain issues. We're looking at seeing how can we increase manufacturing because we have more demand than we counted on for the Fisker Ocean."
Fisker is correct, the company has much demand to fill, with 63,000 reservations globally for the Ocean as of last week, with two trim levels sold out in the U.S. market for 2023.
As for its next vehicle, the PEAR compact SUV that Fisker says will start around $30,000, the company said it will have a driveable prototype completed ahead of plan, which will be ready later this month. Fisker revealed this info on the PEAR when it released Q3 financial results in early November.
Fisker PEAR reservations topped 5,000 as of the end of October, and the company is beginning preparations for the factory layout and tooling.
Fisker also plans on building the PEAR, or at least some of the units, at Foxconn’s plant in Lordstown, Ohio. While the decision to build the PEAR in the U.S. happened before the Inflation Reduction Act was passed, the new legislation will likely make the company boost production, or at least shift production to the Foxconn plant.
“We are full speed on that getting ready in Ohio for that vehicle - I'm actually amazed we have 5,000 reservations because we haven't even shown the vehicle yet,” Fisker says. “I'm getting more and more excited about this vehicle because it's going to be a disruptive, game changing vehicle.”
Fisker believes the PEAR will be significant not just as an economical EV choice for most consumers, but because he envisions its use in ride-hailing, food delivery, and "last-mile" fulfillment that is typically handled by gas-powered cars. Cheap cars, plus cheap electricity versus the volatile price of gas may make the PEAR a strong option for certain commercial applications.
But it's also the cheaper EV market that Fisker believes is ripe for the picking (please forgive the pun), with the PEAR.
“We are really looking at disrupting specifically the affordable EV market as everybody is pricing the EV new vehicles into the super high-end luxury segment,” Fisker said. “I think we're doing the right thing going into a market which has been rejected by the carmakers right now, and that's going to give us a huge lead for the next few years.”
It’s certainly one reason why Tesla's Elon Musk is keen to get its $25,000 entry-level, “robotaxi” vehicle in production by 2024.