Home » Don’t Blame Marques Brownlee (Or Any Journo) If Fisker Goes Bankrupt

Don’t Blame Marques Brownlee (Or Any Journo) If Fisker Goes Bankrupt

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History repeats itself as Fisker, the electric automaker started by car designer Henrik Fisker, faces a series of challenges that could potentially result in the company filing for bankruptcy. The timing of this is interesting if you consider all the negative press, but it’s probably best to weigh the bad buzz against all the other information about the company we have.

While Tesla is far from being in Fisker shape, the world’s second-biggest EV automaker is taking some fairly desperate measures to increase its profitability as it faces its own challenges. In spite of all the EV troubles for others, Toyota is reportedly going to electrify the Hilux.

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And, finally, I had a great night with legendary racer Jacky Ickx — a night definitely worth sharing with all of y’all.

Fisker Bankruptcy Is ‘Inevitable’ As Stock Is Delisted: Hedge Fund Chairman

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There’s been a lot of conversation about Fisker lately and not a lot of it has been positive. The company ended the year in bad financial condition and had to tell people it was at risk of being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange and was maybe going to run out of money if it didn’t get help.

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And then Marquees Brownlee called it the “worst car he’s ever reviewed” and the Internet lost its mind. This was followed by news that maybe the company was getting a $150 million lifeline, but that was contingent, it seems, on closing a deal with a large automaker (widely believed to be Nissan). Then Consumer Reports called the car “unfinished” and “nauseating” in a review, which is capped off with Consumer Reports mentioning that Fisker forgot to cash its check (Free car)!

Now, all the worst is happening.

Here’s Fisker’s response to all of this, via Automotive News:

We do not currently have sufficient cash reserves or financing sources sufficient to satisfy all amounts due under the 2026 Notes or the 2025 Notes, and as a result, such events could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition,” Fisker said.

In the case of a stock delisting, the company will be required to offer to repurchase its unsecured 2.50 percent convertible notes due 2026 and it will trigger an event of default under its senior secured convertible notes due 2025.

“I can’t put it if it is next week or next year, but it is inevitable,” Thomas Hayes, chairman at hedge fund Great Hill Capital, said on the growing chances of the company likely to file for bankruptcy protection.

Great Hill Capital, of course, is the company that bought G/O Media. I’m not entirely sure why the company’s chairman is being quoted here, but he’s likely not wrong.

So back to the headline. We’re getting into real post hoc ergo propter hoc territory, which is to say there’s a temptation to assume that if B happens after A then A caused B. None of the reports on Fisker helped and Brownlee’s spiraled out of control pretty fast, but what Brownlee noted was what other people with un-updated cars noticed, he just happens to be extremely popular so people care more.

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I don’t know Brownlee personally, but as a car writer who plays a lot of ultimate frisbee, it’s been impressive to watch him build a huge personal brand from two activities that are not usually inclined toward big followings.

His review seemed fair and completely consistent with his prior car reviews. It was a bad look for the company, only compounded by a hapless service call to the owner of the Fisker that Brownlee borrowed. It was also completely avoidable because Brownlee had requested a car from Fisker and had been told to wait for a ‘fixed’ one. David got a fixed one and thought it was good, and DeMuro also had one and liked it.

There will be more time to post-mortem Fisker, and I suppose I should wait until the supposedly inevitable bankruptcy to do so, but let’s just run through what is known:

  • Fisker already has one bankrupt green automaker under his belt.
  • Fisker used a SPAC to get listed on the NYSE, which is a shortcut to an IPO that has mostly been unsuccessful for companies.
  • Fisker entered the market with the most ubiquitous form of EV, which is a two-row crossover. This put the company in competition with Ford and Tesla, both of whom could afford to cut prices and undercut Fisker.
  • Fisker’s capital structure appears to have required everything to go well rather quickly, which is not how it usually works out for startup automakers.
  • The Fisker Ocean is a good car when it’s functional, but it launched with many issues that needed to be addressed.

All of this was true before anyone reviewed the car. Is it possible that all the negative press scared off Nissan and doomed the company? Maybe, but there’s an argument to be made that this was doomed from Jump Street.

Elon Musk Making Every Customer Get A ‘Full Self Driving’ Demo And A Month Of Free ‘FSD’

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Tesla’s “full self-driving” mode is not full self-driving and it, as you might expect, doesn’t always drive the car a way a human would. Like all Level 2 assisted driving systems, it’s there to help, but requires a lot of human supervision.

You know who would also benefit from more human supervision? Tesla CEO Elon Musk. But that ain’t happening anytime soon, so he’s out reportedly emailing his employees and telling them that before every delivery in North America, a customer has to be shown how FSD works.

Here’s CNBC:

“Going forward, it is mandatory in North America to install and activate FSD V12.3.1 and take customers on a short test ride before handing over the car,” Musk wrote in an email to staffers on Monday. “Almost no one actually realizes how well (supervised) FSD actually works. I know this will slow down the delivery process, but it is nonetheless a hard requirement.”

Why might this be happening?

Tesla is under pressure to avoid a drop in year-over-year deliveries for the first quarter. At least one independent researcher, who publishes as “Troy Teslike,” predicts Tesla will report lower numbers, marking at least a 1% decline in deliveries, from 422,875 a year ago.

On Monday night, Musk said in a post on X, the social media platform he owns, “All US cars that are capable of FSD will be enabled for a one month trial this week.”

Software is cheap, real features are expensive. Every automaker is trying to boost its margins through software and it seems like Tesla isn’t immune to the temptation. This sounds fairly desperate to me, but the quarter is ending soon so we’ll see how far off Tesla was to start the year.

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Reuters: Toyota’s EV Hilux Due In 2025

Toyota Ev Hilux

Here’s a short, fun update from Reuters

Japan’s Toyota plans to mass-produce a battery electric Hilux pickup truck by the end of 2025, the president of its Thailand unit said on Tuesday.

The announcement comes just a few days after the Thai government said that the rival Japanese automaker Isuzu Motors said it would manufacture its battery D-MAX pickup in Thailand by 2025.

Dope. Also fun to get news from the President of Thailand! That Srettha Thavisin fella usually is pretty tight-lipped.

Jacky Ickx Is A Damn Delight

Jacky Icyx

We had a lot of news from the Genesis Motors event I attended in New York last night as the company unveiled five different vehicles, including at least two that were meant for near-term production and one (the Moon Jar concept) that’ll probably debut as a production model next year.

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The surprise guest at the event was Belgian racing hero Jacky Ickx who has won… all the races. I had no idea that Ickx would be there (thus the surprise part) and so it had nothing to do with why we published a post from a first-time contributor about Ickx’s Dakar adventure in the Lada Samara yesterday.

During the panel Genesis hosted Ickx got up to speak. I’ve seen enough old race car drivers talk to know that I shouldn’t expect much. Some can still command a room (Mario Andretti and Hurley Haywood are both a delight, for instance), but others are mostly there to stand around and just be there.

When Ickx started talking with no script and no notes I took a deep breath. Ickx is a hero and it would be understandable, but a bit sad, to see him not quite rise to the moment.

That’s not what happened.

Ickx gave a stirring speech on the value of teamwork, the beauty of Korea, and then quoted a Korean poem from memory. It was kind of amazing and the whole crowd of hungry, jaded journalists sat in quiet awe.

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Later, at the reception, I ended up next to Ickx and a Genesis executive while ordering a drink at the Genesis House bar. I had to interject and introduce myself (and Road & Track‘s Aaron Brown) and point out the coincidence of us writing about him yesterday.

“Ah, we were just talking about Dakar!” Ickx exclaimed.

“Ahh… the Samara, it was a great car. Porsche motor and suspension.”

As we talked about his friend and importer Poch he kept grabbing bits of Korean fried chicken from the passing waitstaff. The chef sent over a whole tray with his regards and Ickx then insisted, multiple times, that we eat more chicken. I had so much damn chicken and regret none of it.

At the end of the night, he thanked us for writing the piece and said he was looking forward to hopefully seeing us at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

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Sometimes it’s good to meet your heroes.

What I’m Listening To While Doing TMD

Appropriately, a little Japanese Breakfast this morning. Fun fact, the Saab in this song is actually our pal Syd’s car!

The Big Question

Who is the coolest car person you’ve ever met?

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Waremon0
Waremon0
12 days ago

The off-road racing community is still fairly niche and small potatoes, especially compared to F1. It’s still largely amateurs, even in the top classes, so it’s relatively easy to walk around the pit, shoot the shit with the teams, and crawl around the race cars. Or drink some beers with them around the post-race campfire. Just don’t go bothering them when the team is elbows deep in a motor swap between heats.

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
17 days ago

As you can see from my avatar, I met Mr. Koenigsegg in 2017 at an event in Nevada you might have heard about.

He’s every bit as cool and down to earth as he seems. Certainly a high point in my enthusiast career.

BigThingsComin
BigThingsComin
17 days ago

The two coolest car people were Teo Fabi and Dan Gurney. Both of who I got to meet when CART raced at Nazareth Raceway.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
18 days ago

Great Hill Capital, of course, is the company that bought G/O Media. I’m not entirely sure why the company’s chairman is being quoted here, but he’s likely not wrong.

Are you sure that’s the same company? G/O’s garbage owner is always referred to as Great Hill Partners, not Capital.

Flush: There are cool car people? I take solace in the fact that we’re all nerds. Hurley Haywood, Allan McNish and Hans Mezger are up there for me, though. Hans even explained what he did to tweak the Type 4 engine! Shoot.

Last edited 18 days ago by Stef Schrader
Addison Allen
Addison Allen
19 days ago

Paul Newman and Brian Johnson in the same weekend at Road Atlanta. Great day.

Evan McCausland
Evan McCausland
19 days ago

Hard to pick just one. Peter Brock (of Shelby/ BRE fame, not Holden/ crystals fame) is sharp as a tack, a joy to talk to, and one of the nicest humans you’ll meet.

I really enjoyed meeting John Fitch a couple of years before he passed. He was at a Corvette function celebrating his 1960 run at LeMans, and while everyone was having him sign merchandise tied to that event/ those cars, I brought along a model of the ill-fated Corvette SS he co-drove in its lone competitive outing. The man’s face absolutely lit up and he began telling all sorts of tales about the car. He probably would have continued doing so had his handlers not urged him to sign the damn model and move on.

Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
19 days ago

One review by a YouTuber didn’t ruin them. Most car buyers probably don’t know Fisker exists, nor do they watch tech reviewers on YouTube for car buying advise.

Lets face it, the Fisker Ocean needed to do something special. Not just be a good car. It is a decent looking CUV, but it is still $70k (at least any one you could buy for the past few weeks), and there is minimal supporting infrastructure. Why would anyone take a leap of faith for that when you could go to any number of established brands and get a similar vehicle?

I do wonder how much the Fiskers paid themselves as CEO and CFO while the ship sank.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
19 days ago
Reply to  Vic Vinegar

Supposedly, Henrik earned $783,000 from Fisker Inc last year, Geeta made $778,500, so like $1.56 million between the two of them

Goblin
Goblin
19 days ago

Come on man, how can one misspel Jacky Icks ? Do I misspel Tonnie Stevward ?!?

Oh, and I do blame Marquis. Whatever he does – most people can do.
Whatever Fisker does – most people can’t.

Lotsofchops
Lotsofchops
19 days ago
Reply to  Goblin

If one Youtube review can tank your whole company you probably didn’t have a chance. You think all young people that watch his content were about to buy an Ocean and then decided against it?

Goblin
Goblin
19 days ago
Reply to  Lotsofchops

I’m sure all young people that watch his content were not about to buy an Ocean and then decided against it, but I’m also sure all people who were about to buy an Ocean and then decided against it did watch his review.

I have a little disagreement with power and influence given for free, as opposed to great power <=> great responsibility and whatnot.

Fisker deserved a chance. No one is guilty of their likely and imminent failure but themselves, but, this doesn’t absolve anyone who stepped on their necks while they were down.

They were put in the same place as VinFast, by the same group of people, while coming from completely different directions – one coming from unlimited Far Eastern tycoon money to end up being the field mouse a mountain gave birth to, the other trying to come back scraping whatever they had and punching way above their weight.

They did manage to slide downhill quite fast – they didn’t need to be pushed on top of that.

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
17 days ago
Reply to  Goblin

This is the best summation of how I feel about the story of Fisker V.2

Zelda Bumperthumper
Zelda Bumperthumper
19 days ago

I could say a lot about Fisker, but most of it’s already been posted below.

Instead I’ll post this excerpt from Fisker’s own website, dated 3/18/24: “The company has approximately 4,700 vehicles in its currently inventory, carried over from 2023 and including 2024 production. While it has not completed an NRV analysis for 2024, Fisker believes the completed vehicle value for its inventory as of March 15, 2024, is in excess of $200 million.”

Maybe they should have focused on selling cars (and cashing checks) instead of looking for a bank or acquisition to save their hides?

anAutopian
anAutopian
18 days ago

I’ve read somewhere the reason a business goes bankrupt is due to management. First Fisker management should not have been the same managing as the second Fisker. Did any of the investors actually ask what made the first Fisker go bankrupt and what management learned from those errors?

Marco
Marco
19 days ago

Managed to misspell Jacky Ickx’s name after using it 12 times in a few short paragraphs. Ooph. For reference, it’s pronounced like the letter X in French, so roughly “icks/eeks” in English.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
19 days ago
Reply to  Marco

Little-known fact: Jacky’s birth name is Jacky Touitteur.

EXL500
EXL500
19 days ago

I’m 69, and I’ve spent a lifetime following the exploits of Jackie Ickx including his narrowly losing to Emerson Fittipaldi at Watkins Glen in 1970, thereby assuring the posthumous Championship for Jochen Rindt, so your spelling took me by surprise. Google confirms my understanding of how it’s spelled.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
19 days ago

Oh, I met Samantha Tan! Probably not a huge celebrity, but you know what, she was damn cool and down to earth. Plus, she said she prefers iRacing cause her car is in it, which was a dope flex.

Ecsta C3PO
Ecsta C3PO
19 days ago

The MKBHD review itself was a very balanced and fair review (he had a lot of good things to say about it).
I still think it’s a bad clickbait title choice because he’s only reviewed 10 or so vehicles total, and people are very quick to ignore that context and think it’s as bad as a Yugo or Vinfast.

I Could but Meh
I Could but Meh
18 days ago
Reply to  Ecsta C3PO

He’s reviewed at least 40 cars on his channel, and however many more for the magazine he writes for.

ESO
ESO
19 days ago

Scott Pruett, hands down. Champion and winner in multiple forms of motorsports, over the course of DECADES. Award winning winemaker, television announcer, author of children’s books, and genuinely great guy.

He (and his Wife Judy) are among the most genuinely friendly, open and gracious people that I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting in terms of a motorsports legend/celebrity (and I’ve been incredibly fortunate to meet more than a few).

Sometimes it really IS good to meet your heroes. It’s even better when you meet someone that you already had respect for, but as a result of their demeanor towards you and everyone you observe them interact with, BECOMES a hero to you! 🙂

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
19 days ago

The best interaction with a relevant automotive person I’ve had was probably when I gave Torch my 2-series taillight and David gave me a Jeep light housing in exchange signed by Torch with a hasty drawing of a Beetle.

Citrus
Citrus
19 days ago

Well if Great Hill is talking about it you know it’s doomed.

Maybe they’ll take it over and inflict it with a misguided application of herbs.

Last edited 19 days ago by Citrus
Spikersaurusrex
Spikersaurusrex
19 days ago

If a company doesn’t want bad reviews it shouldn’t let half-baked products out the door. As long as the review is truthful, they have nobody to blame but themselves.

EVDesigner
EVDesigner
19 days ago

It’s also the same company who has a CEO married to the CFO. That is quite literally the most direct conflict of interest to exist within a corporate company.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
19 days ago

I once met David Tracy. He apparently liked my car well enough to crawl around underneath it but maybe that’s just something he does.

Ed Kim
Ed Kim
19 days ago

Re: the Japanese Breakfast video…I don’t see any Saab? I just see the BMW E23 7-Series. Fun fact: Michelle Zauner had put out a casting call for an 80s car on IG and I replied to her with two potential local people (one of whom is a friend of Syd) who could supply one (I have a suitable car, a nice Mercedes-Benz W123, but am located on the other coast). She did reply back but ended up going with someone else; I’m not sure where she got the BMW from.

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