Henrik Fisker shows off Ocean SUV EV with novel tech and sustainability

Henrik Fisker showed off the all-electric Ocean SUV production model at the LA Auto Show with a marketing focus on just about everything people want in a vehicle: exciting design, clean energy technology and affordability.

The ambitious founder and CEO of Fisker Inc., based in Los Angeles, hopes to take on Tesla and a global market of well-known industry stalwarts such as GM, Ford and Volkswagen that have all joined the chorus of companies backing EV models.

If ever there was a technology wave, EV is it, even though less than 3% of vehicles sold currently in the U.S. are  EVs.  Fisker must try to show EV value that is competitive or slightly ahead of competitors and pulled out many of the stops in his quick reveal on Wednesday.

Ocean comes in four trim models, with the most expensive two (Ocean One and Ocean Extreme) coming in at $68,999 with a battery range of 350-plus miles, putting it above the Tesla Y at 330 miles.

The other two trims are the Ocean Ultra, priced at $49,999 with a range of 340 miles, and the Ocean Sport, at $37,499 with a range of 250 miles. All the models have a distinctive wide wheel stance for better handling.

Fisker made a big splash with a dashboard 17.1-inch Revolve infotainment screen that rotates at the push of a button from portrait model to landscape mode. While obviously innovative, the feature quickly garnered a negative review from Lawrence Hodge in Jalopnik who called it “one of the most useless features I’ve ever seen highlighted on a vehicle.”

A couple of electronics features of the Ocean stand out. One is Ocean’s use of silicon carbide (SiC) inverters instead of traditional inverters with silicon semiconductors to produce less heat and greater efficiency. An inverter is used to convert a DC battery into AC. Tesla was the first to add SiC MOSFETs from STMicroelectronics in its Model 3 in 2018.

The other is Ocean’s deployment of torque vectoring in its all-wheel drive. Torque vectoring relies on an electronic system to vary the torque to each half-shaft in a vehicle differential. The concept has been around for several years and is gaining popularity. Fisker said the Ocean’s torque vectoring on a test track allowed him 10 mph faster speeds than would otherwise be possible. “You’ll feel like a Formula One driver,” he said.

The battery in the low-end Sport model will be made with lithium iron phosphate (LFP) from China-based CATL, while the top models will have batteries made with NMC, short for lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt oxide. Both NMC and LFP rely on lithium ion but have different sub-chemistries.

Fisker also focused heavily on sustainability with the Ocean, noting that the interior carpets are made from recycled plastic bottles and fishing nets while other parts of the interior are made from recycled t-shirts. The body sits on a platform made of aluminum and recycled carbon fiber.

The vehicle, to be produced in November 2022, will be manufactured in a CO2 neutral facility run by Magna-Steyr in Graz, Austria. Fisker is also planning a CO2 neutral vehicle by 2027. The California version of the high-end model will feature a solar-powered SolarSky roof as well.

Fisker will also provide a flexible lease option for the Ocean, charging $379 per month for up to 30,000 miles a year with no term requirement, meaning it can be leased for as little as a month.  Fisker polishes up returned leased vehicles for re-use, but they will have a 12-year life and then be completely recycled.

Fisker has 19,000 pre-orders for Ocean and expects to ramp up production to as many as 50,000 vehicles by the end of next year.

The founder and CEO said Fisker can sell at relatively low prices because it is an “extremely lean” operation that offers later-generation technology than competitors.  Many car companies make technology decisions and purchase components four years in advance of a car’s production, but Fisker said his company has been able to reduce that advance time to 2.5 years. As a result, the vehicles will have more of the latest technology than others on the road, he claimed.

“We do that by making super-fast decisions that normally take three to four months down to three or four days,” he said. “We have taken a whole new path of how to develop a vehicle.”

fisker ocean trim chart

Tesla was the target of other carmakers at the LA Auto Show including Kia and affiliate Hyundai Motor, which unveiled the EV9 and SEVEN SUV concepts, expected to go into production in 2024. Vietnam carmaker VinFast unveiled two full battery electric SUVs, the VF e35 midsize and VF e36 large.

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