CleanTechnica sat down with Henrik Fisker on August 30th, 2018, in Los Angeles to get an update on where Fisker, Inc. is today and where Henrik plans to take it in the months and years to come. Henrik opened up about his plans for a $40,000 Fisker, solid-state batteries, ultrafast charging, the Fisker Orbit, and more, which we will share over the next few days, starting with this article.
A $40,000 Fisker
The big news coming from Fisker, Inc. is that the company is working on building a $40,000 Fisker that will likely move into production before the mark’s flagship vehicle, the Fisker EMotion. “We don’t have to prove that we can make a luxury car — we already did that with the Fisker Karma,” Henrik shared. The Karma was produced by Henrik’s first company, Fisker Automotive, which has since rebranded as Karma Automotive with its similarly rebirthed version of the Karma, which it calls the Revero.
“We first want to show a vehicle and gauge interest for it, and from there, try to understand volumes,” Fisker shared. That was the EMotion and already represented a step change improvement beyond the Fisker Karma, having upgraded to a fully electric powertrain from the plug-in hybrid powertrain of the Fisker Karma, along with getting a more modern, sexy design.
“Therefore, we will go faster to the affordable, high-volume vehicle and the EMotion could come out either simultaneously or even after the high-volume vehicle. The key here is that the major part of the effort of the company is actually going to be made on the high-volume vehicle, the affordable vehicle.”
The new as yet unnamed $40,000 Fisker could arrive around 2020, but Henrik was not willing to commit to a date or production volumes, noting that, “One of the lessons learned is not to predict volumes too quickly.” Longer term, the $40,000 vehicle should be a high-volume vehicle, competing with the likes of the BMW 3 Series, the Mercedes C-Class, and, of course, the Tesla Model 3. “It has to be significant — in the hundreds of thousands — eventually, there’s no doubt about it,” he shared.
As battery prices continue to come down, Henrik sees the number of battery electric vehicles growing significantly. “The main issue is, in my view, is that you don’t have enough choice for the consumer. It’s extremely limited choice.” Fisker has special plans for batteries, with a new battery in the works that represents the second core focus for Fisker, Inc.
Henrik has not been shy about his objectives with solid-state batteries and is looking to completely disrupt the battery industry, which has obvious repercussions across not just the automotive industry, but in stationary energy storage, consumer products, and more. “Most traditional powered lithium-ion vehicles will be around 300 miles in the next 2–3 years and I think that’s pretty good. That’s going to be enough for most people. Our aim for solid-state batteries is to get way beyond that.”
The team at Fisker, Inc. is going after the holy grail of battery technology with solid-state batteries that he believes would come in at a lower cost than today’s lithium-ion batteries, eliminate the need for toxic conflict cobalt, and, with 24 times more internal surface area, would make the possibility of ultrafast, ~5 minute charging a reality for the first time in the industry. Clearly, this is a moonshot opportunity, but Henrik sees it as the next logical step for the industry.
The team at Fisker plans to have its battery tech working in smaller-scale devices internally by the end of this year, but the real objective is to scale the tech up to a battery built for automotive scale. “Sometimes the same battery size is used, but then you end up with thousands of cells,” Fisker noted. Think about how Tesla used thousands of the commodity 18650 cell in its Model S and X vehicles.
It can certainly be done effectively, but Fisker believes that a larger format solid-state battery is the best fit for his vehicles. “What we want to do is to create some larger format cells for the vehicle which will be different from a cellphone, for instance.”
Fisker, Inc. is developing the tech itself but is already looking for partners to actually build the cells. “We will not be building the batteries ourselves,” he noted. “We’ve been talking to a few different groups in terms of licensing,” which would enable Fisker to use the batteries for itself and to license the tech to other non-competing industries like consumer electronics.
The new battery technology would enable more affordable electric vehicles that would make them available to even more consumers. “It’s a matter of getting more choice for the consumer, then you need the advanced [charging] infrastructure.”
To power up its 300 mile range vehicles with next-generation solid-state batteries, a new generation of chargers is required. Much like with its batteries, Fisker is not looking to build the chargers internally, but is looking for experts in the space to build the actual units.
“Looking at it, we just didn’t find that it was a financial viable business model for us to make our own Supercharger network. I think eventually, the customer is interested in an infrastructure that can be used by any type of vehicle brand. Just like gas stations today. It doesn’t mean that every carmaker has their own unique charging infrastructure,” Fisker shared.
Instead, Fisker is working to define its own charging standard that is compatible with and intersects with the future of existing standards. “We’ve been in discussions with some of the groups that make superchargers,” Fisker shared. We are in alignment with converging charging standards that focus on deploying charging networks that anyone and everyone can use. It is indeed the chicken or egg argument, and something that has played out in numerous technologies over the years.
Fisker does indeed want ultrafast charging, but don’t expect to see Fisker charging stations around town. The plan is to partner and to stay engaged in conversations about charging standards, charging station technologies using those standards, and the deployment of next-generation Level 4 charging stations that Fisker’s vehicles can then utilize to charge.
The target is to get their vehicles charged up in a matter of minutes. Anything less than 10 minutes for a full charge is what he sees as success.
Stay tuned for a deep dive into the Fisker Orbit, or just soak up the full interview in the video above.
Featured image courtesy: Fisker
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