EV startup Fisker Inc. plans to partner with Foxconn, the Chinese company best known for producing iPhones, to develop a new battery-electric vehicle targeting “a new segment.”
The move follows Fisker’s decision to have Canadian auto supplier Magna International produce another model, the Ocean SUV, at a plant in Austria. The plan, codenamed Project PEAR, will see Fisker and Foxconn launch production late in 2023. They are targeting production of “more than 250,000” vehicles annually for sales around the world.
“We created our company to disrupt every convention in the auto industry,” said Fisker Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Henrik Fisker. “We will create a vehicle that crosses social borders, while offering a combination of advanced technology, desirable design, innovation and value for money, whilst delivering on our commitment to create the world’s most sustainable vehicles.”
From designer to automotive entrepreneur
Henrik Fisker started out as a designer, making a name for himself on projects like the Aston Martin DB9. He struck out as an entrepreneur more than a decade ago, launching one of the first major EV startups, Fisker Automotive. A series of setbacks led the company to declare bankruptcy, most of its assets bought up by China’s Wanxiang Group, which relaunched the enterprise under the brand name Karma.
In 2016, Fisker announced plans to reenter the market with a new brand initially developing an all-electric sports sedan. That was switched to an SUV design, reflecting a shifting market. Fisker also ruled out producing vehicles of its own, arguing that it could save cash and get to market more quickly by partnering with an established manufacturer. Magna uses its factory in Graz, Austria as a contract manufacturing site for a variety of established manufacturers. It will begin rolling out the Fisker Ocean next year.
In an interview last autumn, Henrik Fisker told TheDetroitBureau.com that his goal is to have as many as seven different models in production by the end of the decade, a mix expected to include more SUVs, as well as sedans and a pickup. It is not clear what the two partners will produce as part of Project PEAR – the name short for Personal Electric Automotive Revolution. But a rough rendering suggests they’re working on a small, aggressively coupe-styled crossover.
Looking for manufacturing partners
During last year’s interview, Fisker said that his nascent EV company would consider other manufacturing partners and had begun talking to several.
For its part, Foxconn is best known for producing Apple’s iPhones. The company last year indicated interest in entering automotive production, as well. Its strategy mirrors Magna’s. Like the Canadian supplier, Foxconn is developing the underlying platform that will be used for the Fisker vehicle. And it is setting up a new assembly line with capacity for over 250,000 vehicles annually.
“We have two major advantages,” said Foxconn Technology Group Chairman Youngway Liu, “with an exceptional vertically integrated global supply chain and the best supply chain management team in our industry. Coupled with our accumulated engineering capabilities, Foxconn has been critical to the success of many ICT companies over the past 40 years and we look forward to extending this success with Fisker.”
Foxconn brings other advantages
There is another potential advantage: Foxconn will be building the second Fisker product line in China which currently is the world’s largest market for battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs. And the Chinese government’s latest New Energy Vehicle rules mean that 20% of all products sold there by 2025 will need to be either BEVs or plug-in hybrids.
But the memorandum of understanding, or MOU, signed by Fisker and Foxconn has broader ambitions, the new partners saying they plan to see the new BEV in North America, Europe and India, as well as China.
Fisker went public in October as part of a SPAC reverse merger. Shares, traded as FSR, surged after the announcement of Project PEAR, nearing their 52-week high of $24.80. They’ve seen slid a bit over 1% and, as of noon Thursday were trading at just over $22. That’s still nearly triple the $8.70 low since the company went public.