​​Here’s Why The Fisker Ocean EV Costs Less Than You Might Think

​​Here’s Why The Fisker Ocean EV Costs Less Than You Might Think

​​​​​​​​California electric car startup Fisker held the European debut of its Ocean SUV this week, at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Although the car itself has been seen before, I had an opportunity to sit down with company chief executive and namesake, Henrik Fisker, to talk about the Ocean in more detail.

A key point about the car is its price, which at $37,499 (£34,990 in the UK) is fairly aggressive for a car boasting top-notch tech and a range in entry-level form of 275 miles (WLTP). At the top end, expect to pay $69,000 for over 350 miles of range.

This price point was achieved, Fisker says, because of how the car has been developed more quickly than most – and, in particular, how deciding on battery and infotainment tech as late as possible brought down the price.

“Because I’m the CEO and the designer, I can make all these decisions super-quick,” Fisker said. “Normally some of these decisions take three months. We do them right there, in 15 minutes or half an hour in a meeting, so there’s no waiting for three proposals and going on and on and on, which is traditional in the car industry.”

This approach was applied to the Ocean’s technology, which includes a huge 17.1-inch infotainment display that rotates between portrait and landscape orientation – the latter, called Hollywood Mode, for watching video content while parked at a charger. Fisker said: “Today you have a smartphone, then you go to your car and it doesn’t feel like the future. That’s what we are changing.

“I convinced the chairman of [iPhone assembly giant] Foxconn to help us develop the screen in 18 months, versus three years…It was a matter of bringing all the suppliers together and agreeing that if we followed the process, with super-quick decisions, we can develop a car in two-and-a-half years.”

Next, there’s the cost-saving that comes from deciding on technology late in the development process.

Fisker explains: “If I was to select a battery pack and cells three or four years ago, I wouldn’t have had the same range and I would have had higher pricing. So when someone asks, ‘how can you put the car at this price?’ it’s because we selected our technology last year, and every year technology gets cheaper.”

The Ocean will be assembled by Magna Steyr, an Austrian company that also builds cars for other auto firms. Far from an engineering shortcut, Fisker will be in good company among Magna Steyr’s client list. Vehicles currently assembled by the firm include the Jaguar I-Pace and E-Pace, BMW Z4 and 5-Series, Toyota Supra and the Mercedes G-Class. The latter has been built by Magna for over 40 years.

Of this partnership, Fisker says: “If we put up our own factory in the desert somewhere, what is the assurance? I think the Magna piece there gives people an assurance that they know Magna builds high-quality cars.”

Fisker is really leaning into the lower price of the Ocean, concluding: “If  I ask you to name me five great electric cars for £100,000 [$130,000], you can. But if I ask you to name five great electric cars for under £35,000, that’s more difficult. So we thought, let’s go into this segment [with an SUV] because that’s where the opportunity is.”