Someone skipped their decaf this morning and we got a brimming cup-full of highly caffeinated analyst smack talk, which is my favorite varietal of public criticism. What’s going on here? Fisker Inc., the electric startup founded by car designer and sometimes carmaker Henrik Fisker, told investors it would make 42,400 vehicles this year. Not everyone believed this. While we’re at it, we’ll also take a look at India’s expanding car market, Ford’s questionable sourcing, and pedestrian deaths. A lot of this news is a bummer, so let’s revel in glorious quote-getting while we can.
Fisker Stock Up On Order Expansion
Thanks to SPAC deal, Fisker Inc. is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol FSR, which gives us casual viewers a chance to see how the market treats an electric startup (most are private). The company’s stock managed to reach $28.50 in March of 2021, before crashing to earth and hovering around the $7-8 range for the about the last six months.
Skeptical investors pushed the price down to the mid $5 range in the last week, but the company’s latest financial release yesterday sent the stock back up to above $7. What did Fisker say? First, it stated that orders for its Ocean SUV jumped to 65,000 vehicles, up from 62,000 in October. Then the company reiterated its goal to build 42,400 vehicles in 2023.
Let’s check in with Garrett Nelson, who is an analyst at CFRA Research, a largely reputable organization that describes itself as “one of the world’s largest independent investment research firms”:
Ok, maybe that’s Adam Sandler from the film “Billy Madison.”
Let’s get the actual quote, via this Reuters story on the Fisker news:
Garrett Nelson, an analyst at CFRA Research, said the target was “borderline ludicrous given the struggles of EV peers and Fisker’s production of 56 vehicles so far.”
I highlight all of this not because I necessarily agree with Nelson, but because it’s hilarious. The one advantage that Fisker has going for it, which is legitimate, is that it uses contract manufacturing. Fisker ain’t building a gigafactory, but instead it’s using Austrian company Manga Steyr to build Oceans. Later, Fisker is planning to use Foxconn’s new facility in Lordstown (where VW will also maybe build its Scout) to make the cute little Fisker Pear. Above is a patent sketch of the Pear.
It’s also worth noting this quote from CEO Henrik Fisker, via Reuters:
The company had restricted production “on purpose,” he said, as it expects testing for homologation — the certification for roadworthiness — to be complete by March. That will be followed by regulatory approvals and deliveries.
Both the Fisker Ocean and Pear are attractive and nicely priced, with the former starting at a promised $37,499 and the latter projected to start below $30,000. The company also promises competitive EV ranges (think 250 miles for the small Pear and up to 350 miles for the Ocean).
If the startup can overcome the supplier issues everyone else is having and actually deliver half of what they promise this year that would be a real victory.
India’s Car Market Is Still Booming
The world is still dealing with a car market that saw millions of cars pulled from production due to various shortages. These issues are starting to ease and that means an increase in product available for consumers. You know who is ready to buy those cars? India.
Again, from a Reuters article on the rise:
India’s passenger vehicle sales are expected grow about 9%-10% in fiscal year 2024, roughly 20% above pre-pandemic peak levels, as strong demand and easing chip shortages prop-up the world’s fourth-largest car market, ratings agency Crisil said on Tuesday.
Sharper focus by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) on SUVs, including compact SUVs, fuelled by customer preference, “is driving growth, even as sales of sedans and entry level passenger cars remains sluggish,” Anuj Sethi, senior director at the agency said.
SUVs are expected to nearly double their share in overall domestic sales to roughly 55% in fiscal 2024 from about 28% in fiscal 2018, Sethi said.
The compact SUV boom is real, and India’s biggest automakers are ready, with Tata, Maruti Suzuki, and Hyundai all expanding their offerings. Check out the new Maruti Brezza above! It’s a mild hybrid with about 103 horsepower that gets about 40 MPG. Not bad.
Of course, there’s a larger question about the environmental impact of turning a massive country with a quickly growing population into the next big car market. This is, probably, net bad. It’s also fairly hypocritical to state that it’s net bad given I live in a country that built itself on cheap gasoline.
The good news, according to Bloomberg, is that there’s increased interest in small electric cars. The bad news is that India, the world’s third largest energy producer, still heavily relies on coal.
The F-150 Lightning Is Allegedly Built With Materials That Are Contributing To Polluting The Brazilian Rainforest
I keep seeing Ford F-150 Lightnings around town. I think I like them. The F-150 is the truck I think of when I think of a truck, and Ford managed to leapfrog most of its competition by beating Tesla, Ram, Chevy, and others to production of an EV version.
About that production…
There’s a big Bloomberg investigation with a bunch of neat graphics here showing how the materials used to make the F-150 Lightning partially come from a refinery that’s harming the Brazilian rainforest and the people who live there. Not a good look. If you don’t have a Bloomberg login, The Detroit News has a pretty good wrap up here, which I’ll quote from.
The news agency reported Monday that aluminum used in the truck’s frames is connected to rust-colored bauxite that comes from a mine “that has long faced allegations of pollution and land appropriation” and an ore refinery that’s accused of making people sick.
A class-action lawsuit has been filed with 11,000 residents of neighborhoods near the Hydro Alunorte refinery that names owner Norsk Hydro ASA of Norway as the one responsible for polluting rivers and streams, according to Bloomberg. The suit says there’s toxic mud with elevated levels of aluminum and other heavy metals, and Alunorte’s actions have caused health problems including cancer and birth defects.
Not great. Ford has touted its use of aluminum to reduce weight in its trucks and that aluminum has to come from somewhere. Of course, much of our current EV production is dirty. Tesla is notorious for its many issues with the EPA.
With a new, progressive government in charge in Brazil, we’ll have to wait and see if more news like this suddenly starts coming to light.
Pedestrian Deaths Way Up: Report
Loving cars means wrestling with some serious issues. There are the larger inefficiencies of building a society around cars. There’s the global environmental impact of greenhouse gas emissions and the local environmental impact of production (see above) and harmful particulate emissions.
More immediately, at least in this country, we keep running over bikers and pedestrians with our big, heavy cars and trucks. And it’s apparently getting worse. The nonpartisan Government’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has a report out today (you can read it here) showing just how bad it’s gotten recently. Here’s a highlight from their press release:
Drivers in the United States struck and killed 3,434 people in the first half of 2022 – up 5%, or 168 more deaths, from the same period the year before, according to a new analysis from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). This deeply troubling projection follows a 40-year high in pedestrian deaths in 2021 and continues a gruesome decade-long trend of more people dying while walking on U.S. roads.
This sucks. Why is this happening? Also from the GHSA:
Why are more people walking dying on U.S. roads? A combination of factors, including a surge in dangerous driving that began at the start of the pandemic and has not lessened; larger, heavier vehicles that are more likely to seriously injure or kill people on foot in the event of a crash; roads designed to prioritize fast-moving traffic over slower speeds that are safer for pedestrians; and inadequate infrastructure such as sidewalks, crosswalks and lighting in many parts of the country.
Pretty much anyone who drives anywhere has seen all of these issues firsthand. It’s the responsibility of local and regional governments to build and design better streets and to have sensible speed limits in areas with a lot of pedestrians. This means that it’s our responsibility as citizens to demand these changes.
In the meantime, the best thing we can do as individuals is to drive carefully and with a high level of awareness in places where it’s likely we’ll see people outside of cars.
The Big Question
How many cars will Fisker (i.e. Manga Steyr) build this year? Put down your guesses.
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Photos: Fisker, Ford, GHSA, Suzuki
Magna have a stake in Fisker, so it really benefits them more to get the numbers up compared to a more traditional outsourcing model. As I like Pi(e), I predict 31,415 cars will be produced this year. I have a reservation for an Ocean Extreme, but do not expect to see it this year.
The infrastructure in America is not pedestrian friendly. The more safety aids we get in out cars, the more complacent we become. When I commute in my Beat I am paying far more attention to every other road user than I do when I am in a modern car, mainly because I know I am toast in any accident. Are the systems designed for safety partially responsible for more pedestrian accidents?
Fisker will build at least another 44 cars to have an even 100, that’s “high volume manufacturing” right?
I think pedestrian deaths are increasing with car density on the roads. Say as a for instance someone wants to cross a busy 45mph road from their housing complex on one side to a sidewalk on the other side, there are no crosswalks, and if the posted limit is 45mph, then 55mph isn’t unreasonable, and it has noticeably gotten busier after Covid.
I’m not sure why, maybe everyone driving their kids to school instead of using the buses to avoid possible infection, maybe everyone got new jobs and their routes all changed, maybe all the car pools were dissolved and everyone’s on their own now. Whatever the reason, roads definitely seem more congested than a few years ago even.
I use a strobing flashlight when I walk at night when I traverse at a crosswalk. On occasion it is necessary to point it at drivers, even when crossing at intersections with flashing yellow lights, to get them to slow their approach.
” The bad news is that India, the world’s third largest energy producer, still heavily relies on coal.”
No freaking way India would be able to support an EV transformation within the next 20 to 30 years.
If you think the electric grid in the US is bad, India’s electric grid does well to get out of bed in the morning. Mind you I was only there a little over 10 years ago, but daily blackouts were a common thing in the two medium size cities I visited. You look at their power substations and sub-sub stations and it makes you think of a familiar but somewhat retro-archaic technology from sci-fi. It shouldn’t work, sometimes doesn’t work, but somehow does’ish.
My guess is 10k cars. Unless they’re really leveraging Magna’s volume to get a better price. These won’t be eligible for tax credits so they’ll have to compete solely on price.
Public transportation around me is pathetic. So nobody uses it unless they have to. The nearest stop is an 8 minute walk. I could have been to the grocery store in 8 minutes driving myself. Plus the bus doesn’t go to that store but the smaller one that doesn’t have much of what we buy. It’s definitely a “chicken and egg” issue. Investing more would make it better but nobody wants to fund it since ridership is low.
How about the scale on that pedestrian deaths graph! Kudos to the marketing guy.
‘It’s also fairly hypocritical to state that it’s net bad given I live in a country that built itself on cheap gasoline.’
The only reason we were able to do so was our population during that time was a fraction of India’s. It still is.
I think there needs to be an emphasis on infrastructure that keeps people out of streets. Sidewalks, tunnels and bridges for crossing streets, enforcement of crossing streets exclusively in cross walks and not jay walking. People do stupid things when driving. They also do stupid things when walking. The number of people wearing dark clothing walking at night is amazing and frightening. And while lighting seems an obvious way to improve pedestrian visibility, it also creates glare which works to the opposite result. All people need to make better choices. Just because car kills pedestrian, doesn’t always mean driver was to blame.
Where I live, people want to live in/near a walkable downtown. This means developers build in the downtown area. However, no one improves the pedestrian infrastructure to keep people out of the streets.
I use a strobing flashlight when I walk at night when I traverse at a crosswalk. On occasion it is necessary to point it at drivers, even when crossing at intersections with flashing yellow lights, to get them to slow their approach.
If we can have Fair Trade coffee, why can’t we have Fair Trade Ore and Materials?
Who are all these people that ordered Fiskers? I’m not sure I even know anyone who would know what Fisker is.
I think I already have some Fiskers. They cut pretty well, but I don’t know how that’ll help them make cars.
Pretty sure those are Fiskars.
Next thing you’re gonna tell me is that the Berenstein Bears didn’t kill Nelson Mandela in prison while he watched a Sinbad genie movie.
Fisker will be missing a great marketing/clap-back opportunity if they don’t include a setting for “Borderline Ludicrous” mode in their EVs.
“Garrett Nelson, an analyst at CFRA Research, said the target was “borderline ludicrous given the struggles of EV peers and Fisker’s production of 56 vehicles so far.””
That’s being way too generous.
GM struggled to make more than 42,000 Bolts last year.
“The F-150 Lightning Is Allegedly Built With Materials That Are Contributing To Polluting The Brazilian Rainforest”
There is no ‘allegedly’ about it. Basic chemistry, basic economics, basic capitalism. If it’s not the Brazilian rainforests, it’s the African plains. If it’s not the African plains, it’s a river in India.
It’s cheaper to pollute. It’s that simple. If they actually did something about the pollution, the shareholders would have their heads. If the government says they have to do something, they’ll either pay the cheaper fines, or they’ll move it where the government says “yeah sure dump whatever.”
“How many cars will Fisker (i.e. Manga Steyr) build this year? Put down your guesses.”
Actual fully complete production cars that are actually branded as Fiskers?
0-10, leaning toward 0.
I moved to coastal Maine, where a popular local pastime is walking along the narrow shoulderless roads. The thing is, it’s pretty rare for people to get hit (Steven King being an unfortunate exception). It’s so normalized to see old folks having their daily walk that even the brodozers slow down and go around them. The area is semirural and a vacation destination, so it’s kind of amazing all the visiting Massholes don’t just mow down the locals.
Oh and Fisker will produce somewhere between 69 and 420 cars.
I live in a town with zero public transportation options. We also have zero bike lanes and the roads are narrow. It’s strange I don’t hear about more pedestrian/bike deaths here.
Fisker will probably sell around 25000 vehicles before they’re all recalled for a major defect that forces them to close shop for a year
People are driving much more aggressively than I’ve ever seen before. I had a gun pointed at me a few months ago because I stopped at a yellow light.
I’m so fucking sick of living in interesting times.
I’ve had to go through a few lights as they changed to red because the guy behind me was very obviously not going to stop or capable of stopping at the distance from me if I didn’t. I’m half tempted to get an old box truck and just let these assholes total themselves on my back bumper.
Anecdotal evidence on pedestrian deaths;
I have seen an increase in pedestrian traffic in my city starting in late 2020. Being a midwestern city designed around cars, pedestrian infrastructure is horrible. More pedestrians + poor pedestrian infrastructure = more accidents.
Why the increase? My guess is that $1,200 beater cars are now $5,000. People who can’t afford a car just walk when they can’t find a ride. Plus our bus system is so inadequate, it’s typically faster to walk than ride it.
I also live in a small city with garbage public transit. I’ve also noticed that some car lots are selling junk cars that probably would have gone to auction a few years back. So you see more pedestrians, poorly-maintained cars, and poor walking/bicycling infrastructure. We also had the Bird scooters added to the mix, which has not helped.
Further, drivers aren’t very aware of bicycle traffic laws and pay zero attention to bike lanes, which adds tension as cars park in bike lanes, bicyclists and cars don’t know what the other will do, and people get mad because of perceived slights (we have very permissive bike laws, so drivers often mistakenly think bicyclists are breaking the law).
It’s a perfect storm. The best way to protect pedestrians is to keep them as separated from vehicles as possible, but that involves larger, more fundamental changes than most cities are willing to make. And public transit is a hard sell in smaller cities, due to the distances and the reliance on cars meaning there will be few customers.
My state is #1! (In a statistic nobody wants to be number one in)
My friend, your state is #1 in A LOT of statistics nobody wants to be number one in
Florida Man is a force of nature….and not in a good way unfortunately
If I lived in your state, I might be willing to run over a few people to get out quicker.
Close, but the number will be 420 as a joke for Mr. Musk.
Sorry, meant as a reply to Canopysaurus.
I figure Fisker will get a fair number of vehicles produced, though well under predictions. 20,000 or so would be my guess. Magna has the capacity to ramp up if it’s worth their while. The real question, in my mind, will be whether they deliver anything at their promised starting price. I had considered ordering one when I realized Magna would be producing them, but I just can’t shake the feeling that the pricing is just thrown out there to produce interest, not to sell cars at those prices.
I think that 20,000 number seems reasonable. I wouldn’t be surprised to see anywhere from 15,000 to 20,000, but 40,000? Yeah, that’s pretty ludicrous, even with Magna doing the actual building of the cars.
Yeah, I suspect 25,000 at the top end. Probably as low as 5,000 if Magna doesn’t see value in prioritizing them.
Pedestrian and biker fatalities. It wouldnt hurt if the bikers and pedestrians did a little bit towards there own safety. Like stop look both ways before you cross the street. Cross at the green and not in between. Follow the rules of the road. After all no matter who is right and who is wrong there is no doubt who comes out the loser.
What if we made the first rule of the road “don’t run over people” instead of blaming the victims?
It seems like the people who are the most dangerous (car drivers) should have to exercise their privilege with some degree of responsibility.
Because of physics. It is simply not practical on a 35mph road to ask everyone to stop because Bill decided to cross RIGHT HERE rather than walk 300 feet to the crosswalk. The whole “victim blaming” thing stops working when the infrastructure that already exists is flatly ignored. The problem only gets worse when you add in the general populace’s inability to put their phone away when around roads.
Speaking of which…I just drove through a resurfacing area on a two lane road where traffic is controlled with a pilot car taking vehicles through.
As I passed, every person on the job that wasn’t actively working at that moment was staring down at their phone, including the flaggers.
Not one had their head in what was going on around them or the situation at hand.
Are people driving 3 ton death missiles included in your definition of “general populace?”
PS. Roads used to be for everyone. They’ve been for pedestrians for millennia, far longer than they’ve been for cars.
I agree with both sides of this. My personal safety/health is my personal responsibility, and I teach my son that. If he gets hit by a car, regardless of who’s at fault, he’s the one who has to feel that pain, or spend his life in a wheelchair, or be dead.
That said, drivers need to pay attention to what they’re doing, an not hit anything. Too many people on their phones or driving like assholes.
Everyone needs to pay attention to what’s going on around them!
Well put. I’ve always felt the same way, that our roads are a system and if everyone using them keeps that in mind, things tend to be better across the board.
But I’ll admit it’s a tough mindset for us to swallow as Americans, and that was before the personal IT revolution even.
Around here, we’ve had several pedestrian deaths have been when the pedestrian followed the law, crossing in a crosswalk when they had a green light. Inattentive drivers taking their right on red in large vehicles have been to blame. One a few years back was even a defective crossing light that gave the kid and the driver a green at the same time.
That said, even if the pedestrian is in the wrong, we should do more to prevent their death. Making chunks of cities inaccessible to normal vehicle traffic. Lowering speed limits where vehicles and pedestrians are likely to coexist. Keeping cars out of bike lanes. Teaching drivers how to share the road with cyclists. Building pedestrian tunnels or bridges. Adding public transit. Increasing visibility from vehicles. Lower, sloping hoods that make impacts more survivable. Design the world for people, not just vehicles.
Thumbs down, terrible take
You could’ve just posted this clip from The Simpsons and then said “I actually agree with this”
Lisa : Bart, just get out of here.
Bart Simpson : Hey, you get out. It’s a free country.
Lisa : That doesn’t make any sense.
Bart Simpson : I know you are, but what am I?
Lisa : Get out, get out!
Bart Simpson : All right. But on my way, I’m going to be doing this…
[windmills his arms]
Bart Simpson : If you get hit, it’s your own fault.
Lisa : Okay, then I’m going to start kicking air, like this…
[kicks up her foot]
Lisa : And if any part of you should fill that air…
[kicks up her other foot]
Lisa : It’s your own fault.
[They shut their eyes and move toward each other, grunting as they flail or kick. Cut to downstairs in the kitchen, where Marge and Homer are. Their grunts soon turn to yells of pain, and sounds of fighting]
Backstory on that sketch: I’m a friend of the Simpson’s writer for that sketch. It is based on real life incident with his sister. IIRC, the next sketch is Homer walking towards a cooling pie with his mouth gaping.
During that period, my friend with a BS in physics/math and MS in computer science was the least educated person on the writing staff.
Flash forward and the brother and sister are brilliant adults with their own families.
It’s my second-favorite pie bit! After “Ummmmmm floor pie.”
I suspect the Fisker folks are iCarly fans based on the Pear name.
No accounting for altered/impaired folks in that ped death count?
I suggest you take another look at your local right of way laws, especially the part about “unmarked crosswalks”. People outside of cars have lots of interest in navigating streets safely. People driving cars are generally lacking in their responsibility to operate them safely. See: research on speeding, crosswalk yielding, etc. Signed, your transportation safety engineer.
Fisker will build somewhere between 42 and 400 vehicles this year, so they got the numbers right, it’s the comma placement that’s ridiculous.
I was in a Venza as we drove by a Ram 2500 that had a belt line at the roof of the Venza. Children and short adults are below the windows. Massive lifted pickups and SUVs built to protect the occupants at all costs have huge blind spots and strike pedestrians in less-survivable ways. And their existence ensures people continue to buy more massive vehicles, because they want to protect their families in a crash versus one of these other tanks.
Sadly, the “fix” that most companies will offer is pedestrian sensors and AEB, which doesn’t increase pedestrian survivability on impact much and will probably be ignored by too many drivers, assuming it actually works correctly at all.
Ah yes, Manga Steyr, where all the finest contract cartoon vehicles are produced.
In truth, using Magna Steyr is what makes their claim fairly reasonable. If they can churn out a couple hundred thousand cars up to BMW/Mercedes standards every year, they can half ass 40K Fiskers.
Ford has a long tradition in Brazil
(Will this comment hit the spam filter? Let’s find out!)
Also a very good book: https://www.amazon.com/Fordlandia-Henry-Fords-Forgotten-Jungle/dp/0312429622
I forget where I heard about Fordlandia, but the book is a very interesting read.
So any Indian autopians here? I’ve always been curious (which gets reignited every quasi-rare time I see one here in the States, like last night in a parking lot) – how does the Ford EcoSport do in its home market?
I have a kinda soft spot for them (Fiesta SUV!) but I know few other Americans seem to…
The Ecosport used to be very popular in India in its first (technically second, because Brazil got an Ecosport in the early 2000s) generation. It even had an enthusiastic fandom. The second (third?) generation also did well initially, losing out on some of the driver engagement in favour of refinement. However, the second-gen was allowed to get long in the tooth and began losing favour with buyers over time.
Ford has now effectively left the Indian mass market. Their domestic factories have closed and/or been sold. They claim they’ll reposition themselves as a low-volume import marque and keep importing a few enthusiast models (like the Mustang, Mach-E, Endeavor and Ranger Raptor) but there have been no updates on that yet. Guess we’ll see.
Fascinating – thank you. It seems like it would be engaging for an SUV, more raw and visceral like a first gen RAV4. I think that’s what makes me like it somewhat, dumb name aside (great job Ford…would it have been so hard to give it a name that’s not confusingly-similar-but-not vis a vis its engine?)
Regarding the pedestrian deaths, it would be nice to see safety regulations change to encourage production of much lighter vehicles in part to improve this. When the majority of the population is operating fat, bloated, oversized sensory deprivation bubbles where all of the functions are tied to a touch screen, and they do so while texting on their phones, what else can you expect? It seems the current regulations were written by industry to deliberately force the production/sales of more higher-margined trucks, SUVs, and CUVs. With today’s material sciences available, having a sub-1,500 lb car with the safety of an early 2000s Toyota Camry is not of the question, nor unreasonable. Lighter vehicles take less energy to decelerate, which greatly changes the dynamics of collisions.
Lighter vehicles would definitely help. Unfortunately, we are likely to keep going the other way and making heavier vehicles. You want 500 or more miles of range in an EV? Sure, we’ll just fill a massive vehicle with batteries. Don’t want to die in a collision with one of those massive vehicles? We’ll build it up even more to protect you (and no one else).
Following the current trend will eventually price out everyone who isn’t in the top 10% of income earners from the new vehicle market altogether. Of course we need lighter vehicles.
With proper streamlining, perhaps a Cd of 0.16 with a frontal area around 21 sq ft, a sedan weighing around 3,000 lbs could get a 500 mile range on only 60 kWh. With current tech, that 60 kWh pack would come in around 500 lbs, including battery housing, BMS, and thermal management system. Of course, the weight could go down significantly because not everyone needs a 500 mile range. A pack half that size could do a 250 mile range, and the cost would go down accordingly, along with the weight.
A Lotus 11 sized streamliner sports car weighing 1,500 lbs could also get around 300 miles range on 20 kWh when you’re driving it conservatively. With an extremely power dense choice of battery and a modern drive system offering 300+ horsepower, performance would be totally retarded when you put your foot into it.
Enthusiasts and those looking to save money are both being robbed.