Home » Marques Brownlee Still Wouldn’t Buy The ‘Fixed’ Fisker Ocean 2.0

Marques Brownlee Still Wouldn’t Buy The ‘Fixed’ Fisker Ocean 2.0

Marques Brownlee Fisker
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Credit is due to tech/car reviewer Marques Brownlee. He drove a borrowed Fisker Ocean with the old software last month and called it the “worst car he ever reviewed.” This set off a chain reaction of negative responses and people unfairly started blaming Brownlee for a Fisker bankruptcy that hasn’t even happened yet. Now Brownlee is back with a new review of a car that’s been updated.

The ethics of automotive journalism are interesting. A reviewer for a traditional publication might be tempted to wait for a vehicle from the automaker, even if there’s some sort of delay. That’s the way things tend to work. Brownlee wasn’t so inclined and, instead, went and found a Fisker Ocean that was available from a non-PR source.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

At issue is that Fisker was in the process of rolling out a software upgrade advertised as a fix for a lot of the Ocean’s little annoyances. Brownlee tried to get one from Fisker but didn’t want to wait so picking up one wasn’t much of a gotcha as, frankly, few of the Oceans out in the world at that time had the fix. Given the car wasn’t pre-production and was being delivered, it seems like reviewing the car people actually owned was probably the more ethical thing to do.

The review was rough. Brownlee praised the hardware, the design, and the overall value proposition, but found many things did not work. He had issues with the key fob functioning, Bluetooth connecting, and the screen reacting in a timely manner, just to name a few of the problems he encountered.

How much of this was fixed by the update? Some of it, but not all of it, according to Brownlee. Additionally, Fisker was unable to update cars over-the-air, meaning a technician had to come out and physically do the software update.

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Stuff That Works

Fisker KeyfobSome good news for owners is that California Mode now works and you can open all of the windows with a push of a button. That was an annoyance for Brownlee last time.

“But the other issue I had with the key was that walking up to it wouldn’t do anything and I’d have to unlock a few times to get into the vehicle… that didn’t fix, so I still had many issues with walking up and having to wake up the car… key fob not fixed,” says Brownlee.

Bluetooth didn’t work for Brownlee with the first vehicle, but it worked immediately and didn’t cut out on Brownlee during his time with the vehicle. The solar sunroof also now has a new graphic that explains how much energy is being generated, though it’s clearly not much (about a mile a day according to Brownlee).

One of the more dangerous/unfortunate issues with the previous Ocean was the lack of a hill hold or a brake hold, which meant that the vehicle felt as if it could roll away. That’s been fixed as well.

Features That Didn’t Get Fixed

Fisker Screen Jitter

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Another feature that seems super annoying is that the main gauge screen shifts red or blue depending on whether you’re accelerating or deccelerating and it’s super distracting and not at all seamlessly designed.

One of the biggest issues that Brownlee had, and one that’s currently under investigation by NHTSA, is that the regen brakes don’t work when you hit a bump or a low traction surface. This means that the vehicle feels like it’s braking and then suddenly isn’t. That’s not great and Brownlee said the upgrade didn’t solve this issue.

New Annoyances And A Non-Recommendation

Fisker Ocean 2The center screen apparently needs about 30 seconds for the center stack to boot up, which is seemingly new. The car still will drive, but the center stack doesn’t work until it boots up completely.

Brownlee complains that the vehicle won’t move without your seatbelt being on, assuming it’s just an annoying feature. This is interesting and it’s a reminder that Brownlee mostly drives EVs, because plenty of cars have this feature now, including most Hyundais.

In spite of some improvements, the car is far from perfect.

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“If you look back at my channel at what I’ve been able to review, it’s still the worst car I’ve ever reviewed.” The only cars that were similar, Brownlee said, were the Vinfast VF8, which we told people not to buy at the time, and the original Tesla Roadster.

The ultimate issue, however, is Brownlee’s lack of confidence in the company.

“I still don’t feel like I am able to recommend this version of this car given the state of the company and everything happening to it,” he concludes, saying he’s not sure the company will even exist in a few days.

That’s likely a bit of an exaggeration. The good news for owners or potential buyers (the car is $24,000 off now) is that, even in a bankruptcy, the company might still exist and there are enough of these cars out there that it’s quite possible that there will be some support. The bad news for owners is that the value has gone down considerably, as Edmunds discovered when they tried to get a Carvana offer for their $69,000 Fisker Ocean and found out it was only worth $21,000. That’s not great, but that’s also common with almost all EVs.

I understand Brownlee’s reticence to recommend the vehicle, though.

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Relatedbar

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

Struggling Fisker Pauses Production As it Gets $150 Million Lifeline

The Fisker Ocean Is Way Better Than You Think It Is

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Ben
Ben
11 days ago

One of the biggest issues that Brownlee had, and one that’s currently under investigation by NHTSA, is that the regen brakes don’t work when you hit a bump or a low traction surface.

My Prius does this too. It’s quite disconcerting to cross a railroad track while coming up to an intersection and have your brakes feel like they cut out. I suppose the ABS doesn’t work with regen braking so if they think you may have a traction problem they force you to use the mechanical ones?

rctothefuture
rctothefuture
10 days ago
Reply to  Ben

Volt owner here, same thing happens. It has a .25 second delay between cutting regen and switching to the physical brakes. Very jarring when it first happened.

Taylor Marshall-Green
Taylor Marshall-Green
11 days ago

He’s a gadget reviewer. A very good one. WHY tf is he reviewing a space he has ZERO background on?

What if Jeremy Clarkson decided to spend a Top Gear episode speaking ill of that pesky Apple operating system with counter-intuitive programming behind the user interface?

The problem with journalism today is INTERNET/SOCIAL MEDIA making “experts” out anyone with a phone. There are no more Dan Rathers, Robert Irwins and Bob Ross’s to trust for good information. Now, we have Ben Shapiro, kids running around the everglades with cellphones and AI making painters out of high school dropouts.

Last edited 11 days ago by Taylor Marshall-Green
The World of Vee
The World of Vee
11 days ago

EVs and Tech have very large overlaps in interest. It was only natural that he’d attempt it. There’s space in the industry for different takes on similar things, I’d consider his takes more of the everyman review vs say throttle house being more driver focused.

Ben Chia
Ben Chia
10 days ago

Exactly. How did he get to be so ‘influential’ in the first place? What value or credibility does he bring?

Goes to show that people believe everything on the internet these days.

Rusty S Trusty
Rusty S Trusty
11 days ago

I don’t really care about Bluetooths and infotainment stacks and other things not at all related to driving in my machine built primarily for driving. What I care about is driving. All the other stuff is secondary at best, completely unnecessary at worst. At least we have Miatas and Toyobarus and Porsches and the like but the rest of the automotive landscape is getting downright depressing.

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
11 days ago

main gauge screen shifts red or blue depending on whether you’re accelerating or decelerating”

This is a feature that lets you know you’re going REALLLYYY damn fast! Does the speedometer read in fractions of c?

Crimedog
Crimedog
11 days ago
Reply to  Balloondoggle

I get your comment even without the explanatory second sentence! It begs the question, “Do we think the developers were thinking the same?”

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
11 days ago
Reply to  Balloondoggle
  • red shift
  • blue shift
  • money shift
Mortalcombatant
Mortalcombatant
11 days ago

This article in a nutshell: “Brownlee, Brownlee, Brownlee, Brownlee, Brownlee, Brownlee”.

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
12 days ago

Consumer Reports does the same thing. They seek out retail examples rather than press ringers.

Allen Lloyd
Allen Lloyd
12 days ago

Can anybody explain to me why Bluetooth is such a complete pain in the ass to get right? I have used dozens of Bluetooth speakers and headphones and other house items they all work perfectly. The second I get into a car Bluetooth becomes this temperamental voodoo to get it to work consistently.

Gee See
Gee See
12 days ago
Reply to  Allen Lloyd

It depends on the car, perhaps antenna placement? In my BMW the antenna is in the trunk area. BT is originally designed for low power data.. So it also depends on which version of Bluetooth you have, the newer ones support higher bandwidth and are more fault tolerant. Of course once you buy the car, most manufacturer won’t upgrade the transceiver.

Last edited 12 days ago by Gee See
Mechjaz
Mechjaz
12 days ago
Reply to  Allen Lloyd

Hi there. I worked with Bluetooth in a professional capacity for about 4 years.

Let’s assume your physical connection – the transmission between your device and the client device – is sound. Your host and client can communicate, or are at least not intrinsically impeded from communication.

Bluetooth is a protocol, and in itself only a protocol. To get anything to work in a consumer facing way, you have to have profiles. A2DP, AptX, etc and so on. Unfortunately, supporting a profile comes with several caveats:

many have licensing feesthere are great big specifications to which you must adhere if you’re going to advertise (both in the sense of marketing, and in the sense of telling other devices on the network “I support this profile!”) that that you support any given profileYou still need drivers for any of this to work.
I would bet a lot of dollars that the drivers are what’s terrible. They:

Can be bad at pairing, failing repeatedly out of the pairing process. Having watched Bluetooth traffic with a protocol analyzer, the client device (head unit, etc) may ignore valid request to pair or connect or not realizing which state the host/client device are in and negotiating accordingly.Do not attempt to initialize to a known state, leaving you in a crappy inbetween situation (no metadata, have to interact with the head unit to resume playback, etc); the media player you’re using also has to issue commands through your mobile OS to initialize/resume/etc. This may also result in needing to re-pair when you’ve already paired, because it refuses to connect.Have a profile specification implemented partially or poorly, which are failed test cases the QA engineer (if there is one) has hopefully noted and (ideally) would be shipped before fixing. If not, it may be shipped as a minimum viable product – can it pair, does it play music – with an expectation to update later. It sounds like Fisker didn’t even hit MVP-levels of functionality before shipping.
Keep in mind, where Apple likely uses the same Bluetooth radio and software stack in every single product (and Google, and Amazon, and Bose, as applicable, etc), every car manufacturer is rolling their own, custom hardware running custom firmware running a protocol already not well regarded for robustness. Retrying packets, connections, pairing – unless you bundle these things together in a profile (ideally multiple profiles since you don’t want authentication and data integrity in one bloated suite), Bluetooth will not assist you. Since Bluetooth 4.2, improved authentication has at least been baked into the core spec.

Unlike the big consumer brands above, Kenwoods and Sonys and JVCs (and Fiskers and Teslas and….) all run various kinds of embedded operating systems that needs to have a driver written for it to even do so much as connect.

I’m certain that all the aftermarket units at least within a brand try to hold on to the same chipset and radio for as long as they can, and the same for the car manufacturers themselves, so they aren’t writing drivers for every different unit. I can tell you from experience just keeping up is a challenge in its own right, so picking a steady target – say 4.2, though that would certainly leave you out of date at this point – can take months to update or years to write from the ground up, especially if you don’t have software libraries you could draw on as you can for major OSes and devices.

Now, you can still have a bad Bluetooth implementation anyway, due to things like interference, placement, range, etc, but if your devices are at least detecting each other, almost everything else is gonna be software.

edit: clarified language around embedded operating systems

Last edited 12 days ago by Mechjaz
Dan Pritts
Dan Pritts
11 days ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

Summary: Software is hard.

Anthony Magagnoli
Anthony Magagnoli
11 days ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

This could be its own article on this site!

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
11 days ago

Thanks! Unfortunately editing the comment destroyed my nice formatting, but hopefully it’s mostly intelligible.

Jon Myers
Jon Myers
11 days ago
Reply to  Allen Lloyd

For me it has mostly been phone related instead of car related. I had a OnePlus phone that always had trouble connecting to my car. I picked up a PIxel and never have any problems connecting to the car.

Myk El
Myk El
11 days ago
Reply to  Jon Myers

That was my experience with a couple of smart phones. When they got long in the tooth, pairing issues started occurring. Replace phone, issues went away.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
12 days ago

Saw one on the interstate today.
Almost feel like a birder noting sightings in my log

The Mark
The Mark
12 days ago

He sure likes to keep the camera on himself. Keep the camera on the car.

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
12 days ago
Reply to  The Mark

Honestly all the drama with this guy makes every article I read seem more like celeb gossip than auto journalism.

Chronometric
Chronometric
11 days ago

Drama = Clicks and Views

Aaron
Aaron
11 days ago
Reply to  The Mark

Watch any car reviewer on YouTube and you’re likely to see the person as much/more than the car. The Smoking Tire, Savage Geese, The Straight Pipes, Hoovie, Big Daddy Doug, Old Man Yells at Clouds Scotty Kilmer, Micah Muzio… People tend to connect and relate to images of other people, so the YouTube algorithm highly prioritizes that.

The Mark
The Mark
11 days ago
Reply to  Aaron

I guess so. I like Bill from Curious Cars, and he never shows himself.

LarsVargas
LarsVargas
12 days ago

He’s saltier than the Ocean, but I get it. Purchasing a question mark like this is scary and if I was a betting man, I’d put my money on the side of these not being a good purchase or Fisker being around long term. All the remaining bugs and other stuff don’t help.

I have no sense of adventure, especially where my money is concerned, and wouldn’t buy a perfectly functioning question mark. One with all sort of annoyances and possible safety issues? No thanks.

Theoretics
Theoretics
12 days ago

I don’t disagree with everything he said, even though some of the items mentioned in both this review and the last one are pretty petty (not the safety issues.) I’m just not taking car-buying advice from a guy who is perfectly fine with the way you put a Tesla into gear, a point with which I’m sure the ex-transportation secretary agrees, or who thinks the most dangerous thing about a Cybertruck is other people staring at it.

I don’t own a Fisker, nor would I buy one in its current state, but the whole “herpata derpata remember when Karma Fisker failed?” shtick was old from the moment of the company’s formation and I’m sure didn’t help. On paper, the Ocean is pretty compelling, and initial reviews from Kristen Lee and others on delivered European cars were fairly positive. I’m not sure what changed in the last two months.

OTOH Fisker should have known they had to get this right out of the gate because of the stigma attached to the name and how the internet works. Instead, they spent time and money on moonshots like solid-state batteries and a fairly useless solar roof.

Just in case any auto execs are reading this: The time for quirky early adopter gimmicks is over. Just build a solid car at a reasonable price point. Seriously. Just stop.

Gee See
Gee See
12 days ago
Reply to  Theoretics

The company probably thought slapping on the just screens will save money and neglected to invest the money saved in software development and QA. Software requires man hours, a lot of cars out there to test and a lot of iterations (time). Tesla still pushes various updates to all their cars about once a month.

Last edited 12 days ago by Gee See
Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
12 days ago

On a complicated EV I think it would be foolish to bet on the fact that there *might* be “some” support in the future as the company looks very much like it won’t be around much longer. This isn’t a simple car like an old MG that you can fabricate fixes for.

At this point though, I think anyone buying an EV instead of leasing is just making a bad bet.

Gee See
Gee See
12 days ago
Reply to  Jack Beckman

Especially for EVs which invariably tied themselves to corporate servers in order for a lot of ancillary functions to work (Nav, mileage etc just look at apps like TeslaFi for the breadth of data Tesla servers hoovers up). Those corporate servers might not exist if the company goes under (I don’t think there are any rules from NTSB saying they have to be kept alive if the company goes under).

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
12 days ago
Reply to  Gee See

An excellent point, especially for those that don’t have CarPlay or Android Auto.

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