First things first, a $40,000 Fisker EV would be fantastic. Let’s also be blunt, though: Fisker Automotive has had a fairly tumultuous past. From Tesla suing them in 2008 for allegedly stealing trade secrets (with to them counter-suing Tesla, the whole ordeal going to arbitration, and ultimately Tesla paying them $1.1m) to multiple cases of not being able to deliver over the years.
Their issues have not always been of their own making, however. For example, they faced multiple battery recalls and the resultant shuttering of their battery provider, A123. Following that, Hurricane Sandy destroyed an entire shipment of Fisker Karmas bound for Europe.
With that said, though, they’ve burned through leadership, had their credit frozen on government loans, built unreliable and poorly reviewed cars, have missed production target dates time and time again, and so on.
That $40,000 Fisker Tweet
So when I saw the following Tweet in the ElectroNerd Twitter feed, I initially had my doubts:
As I sat and processed the information a few things occurred to me.
- This is the same old “announce a car that will never see the light of day” routine.
- Way to try to piggyback off the Model Y announcement – to the point of mimicking the silhouette shot and being within 1 business day / news period of it.
- What the heck do you mean “close” to $40,000? These sort of intentionally vague number claims infuriate me. Is it a $40,000 Fisker or not? $45,000? $35,000? Argh.
Marketing an Inexpensive EV 101
Unless I’m mistaken, this is anything but a coincidence, decidedly smacks of a calculated PR move:
- Let Tesla unveil their Model Y on Thursday evening PST.
- Major news outlets pick up the story Friday morning and talk about it feverishly all day / weekend.
- Announce your new EV Monday while everyone is breathlessly talking about revolutionary EVs.
I see several problems with this. Firstly, the Fisker name is, fairly or not, tainted at this point. Current EV enthusiasts will be more likely to have long memories about financial woes, production problems, quality issues, etc.
Secondly the nebulous “close” to $40,000 figure is alarming. Call it what it is. I see this particular item being either an attempt to one-up Tesla by unveiling a similar styled vehicle (ie: a compact crossover SUV) for a lower price or an also-ran announcement of a roughly similar price-point EV that is an attempt to piggyback off the publicity.
Either way, from a marketing standpoint it makes sense. The problems begin when you start dissecting the hidden meaning of the tweet, as revealed by follow up tweets.
So here we see that it will just be a teaser and “some tech details”. In reality, it sounds as if they have nothing of substance to show us, not a full car, not even full specifications. We also see that it’s an insanely low resolution image, which just doesn’t instill confidence, either.
Maybe that’s splitting hairs, but when you’re handed enigmatic subject matter you are left to suss out and infer information. Doing so often means deducing as much from what you haven’t been given as what you have, fair or not.
Maybe we’ll see a larger silhouette (my money is riding on it being just that) and get a few buzz-creating figures like “400 miles per charge” and “charge to 80% in 15 minutes” or the like; with no mention of hard facts such as “80kWh battery” and so on.
The problem for me is that Fisker has become a bit like “the boy who cried wolf” at this point, since they haven’t really delivered on any of their claims in a timely manner, when they’ve delivered on them at all.
This is Just Anti-Fisker Rhetoric!!!
No, it really isn’t. I am decidedly not anti-Fisker. In fact, I hope they unveil something so radical and astonishing it captivates the minds of both the as-yet-unconverted to EVs and EV-enthusiasts alike. We need more successes in the electrification movement and as many manufacturers producing high quality EVs as possible to help accelerate the energy transition.
It’s just extremely difficult to not be skeptical after watching Fisker flounder for over a decade. Make no mistake, Tesla have hardly been the model of punctuality when it comes to delivering on their promises. So far though, unlike Fisker, they generally end up delivering on said promises, eventually.
I genuinely hope there is a revolutionary announcement in the near future about their “close” to $40,000 Fisker mass-market EV. I guess I’m just not ready to hold my breath. There are already other manufacturers cranking out quality EVs in the sub-$40,000 range, (I’m looking at you, Model 3, Chevy Bolt, Hyundai Kona EV / Kia e-Niro, Leaf, etc.) so it will have to be pretty compelling to make waves. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that be the case?
What do you think of the tease of the tease? Sound off in the comments!