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Fisker Ocean EVs Could Be Bricked If Bankruptcy Happens

Key Takeaways

  • Fisker’s future looks increasingly bleak as the possibility of bankruptcy becomes all but a certainty.
  • This leaves Ocean owners with questions about what will happen to their cars without Fisker to keep things running.
  • As a software-defined vehicle, unless a third-party steps up, updates will be unavailable and the cars may be unfixable.

Fisker was once a darling among EV startups. It was the big second chance for founder Henrik Fisker, whose first effort to create an electric vehicle company, Fisker Automotive, went belly-up back in 2013. Lessons were learned, the market changed, and the new Fisker was ready to build the next big thing in electric vehicles. Its first vehicle, the Ocean, has all the practical things like range and performance, along with plenty of quirky features that make it fun and appealing.

There’s a giant infotainment screen that swivels from portrait to landscape. All the windows go down at the press of a button, including small windows in the cargo area specifically for dogs to hang their heads out and enjoy the breeze. There are even little fold-out work tables that the company calls taco trays. See, fun? What’s not fun is wondering what the heck will happen if you bought one and the company goes bankrupt.

Fisker

Bankruptcy Looms Large

Though bankruptcy hasn’t happened yet, Fisker is facing a growing list of issues that make it an increasingly likely scenario. We spoke with Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst at Guidehouse Insights about the possiblity of a future for Fisker. “I really don’t see anyone stepping up to acquire Fisker or make a substantial investment at this point,” he told CarBuzz.

“A bankruptcy filing is almost a certainty at this stage.”

– Sam Abuelsamid, Guidehouse Insights Principal Analyst.

In March, Fisker paused production for six weeks and raised $150 million to stay afloat. There was also a potential deal with another automaker, but that deal fell apart. Fisker then had a fire sale and cut prices of the Ocean to under $25,000 to clear inventory and raise capital. In early April, it withdrew its financial guidance and stated that its future was in question.

Related

Fisker Withdraws Financial Guidance as Downward Spiral Continues

The company struggles to survive despite growing obstacles.

It’s a bit of a scary time to be a Fisker owner with no real idea what will happen to its cars if the company goes under. Though it’s unlikely the Ocean will suddenly stop working, the question is what to do if there is a problem. The tried and true gas engine is easy for most mechanics to repair. They’re a known entity and there are lots of people capable of working on one.

Fisker Ocean Lineup
Fisker

A Software-Defined Problem

The Ocean is different. Like the Tesla Model 3, it’s an electric vehicle that is software-defined, which isn’t just a fancy buzzword. Consider the smartphone. They all look a lot alike, but they function differently in large part due to the software. It’s the operating systems inside those little rectangles that make them unique and there are engineers who specialize in coding updates that make them better over time.

“Unless Magna or someone else steps up to buy and support the assets, the current vehicles will effectively be frozen in amber.”

– Sam Abuelsamid, Guidehouse Insights Principal Analyst.

A software-defined car is somewhat similar. There are mechanical parts that are easy enough to fix, but many improvements and potential fixes are all about the software. Without a company behind these cars, there aren’t engineers dedicated to keeping the software running smoothly, much less rolling out improvements to make things better. “The vehicles will keep running for as long as they can, but there won’t be any more software updates, unless Fisker decides to open source the code, at which point some developers might step up,” said Abuelsamid.

Fisker Ocean Front Quarter
Fisker

Could It Be Bricked?

If there is an issue that requires a software fix, then Ocean owners could be in trouble. Thus far, Fisker has been rolling out software updates to fix a wide range of problems. These updates address everything from powertrain improvements to adjustments to the regenerative braking system, but there are still outstanding issues. Updates through a third-party developer are possible, but won’t be easy,

“Even if third party developers want to support the software, they would probably lack the infrastructure to deploy over-the-air (OTA) updates.”

– Sam Abuelsamid, Guidehouse Insights Principal Analyst.

“Owners would need to download and install it themselves, something that is probably beyond the abilities of most owners,” he added. The chances of a Fisker bankruptcy are high, with a glimmer of hope coming from a potential buyout. Henrik Fisker told employees at an all-hands meeting last week that there are four automakers that might be interested, but that it’s still early in discussions. How long Fisker can stay afloat in the meantime is debatable. If bankruptcy does happen, Ocean owners have an uncertain future with the potential for software problems that can’t be fixed and cars that can’t be driven.

Fisker Ocean Profile
Fisker

#Fisker #Ocean #EVs #Bricked #Bankruptcy

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