The downfall of electric vehicle startup Fisker: A comprehensive timeline

Henrik Fisker once envisioned a thriving electric car empire at the startup he named after him, which was to be led by the Ocean SUV. But cracks are starting to appear in that vision once the ocean hits the road in 2023.

Fisker cut production targets several times, failed to meet sales targets and laid off employees. Furthermore, its Ocean SUV was plagued with software and mechanical issues, rendering it inoperable for some. Add annoying brakes, sudden power outages, and doors that wouldn’t open to the list of problems that led to multiple safety investigations and eventually production being temporarily halted in order to raise new capital.

All this and more forced Fisker to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, marking the beginning of an inauspicious period for the startup that bears its name. Here’s a timeline of events that led the automaker to this point.

2023

Fisker did not meet its second-quarter production target

July 7 The automaker produced 1,022 Ocean SUVs in the second quarter of 2023, several hundred vehicles fewer than its forecast of producing between 1,400 and 1,700 electric vehicles.

Fisker sold convertible securities to finance operations

July 10 – Fisker announced plans to sell $340 million of convertible debt, expecting net proceeds to reach $296.7 million. The automaker said it plans to use the funds to support its overall corporate operations and add an additional line of battery packs to “support growth” in 2024 and beyond. The money will also be used for capital expenditures and future product development, the company said.

Cut production target

December 1 -Fisker lowered its annual production guidance in an effort to free up $300 million in working capital. The company said it expects to produce about 10,000 vehicles in 2023. The production guidance represents only a quarter of Fisker’s bullish forecast from a year ago.

2024

Fisker struggled to meet internal sales goals

January 1 – Fisker has remained far from its stated goal of delivering 300 electric SUVs per day globally. The electric vehicle startup spent most of December aiming to meet an internal sales target of 100 to 200 vehicles per day in North America, where the bulk of its inventory and sales efforts are located. Fisker’s price fell well below that target, often selling between one and two dozen Ocean SUVs a day here.

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The Ocean SUV was investigated for complaints of loss of braking

January 15 – Federal safety regulators have opened an investigation into Fisker’s first electric car due to brake problems. Owners have filed 19 complaints with NHTSA about problems ranging from missing brakes and transmission problems to the driver’s door failing to open from the inside and two instances of a car’s hood suddenly flying off on the highway.

Owners have reported sudden power outages and brake problems for months

February 9 — Since the initial fleet of Fisker Ocean SUVs were delivered, customers have reported more than 100 separate power outage incidents. The company told TechCrunch that it believes these issues are rare, and that it has resolved “almost all issues” with software updates. Customers have also reported a sudden loss of braking power, problems with keys causing them to lock themselves in or out of the vehicle, seat sensors not detecting the driver’s presence, and the SUV’s front hood suddenly flying off at high speeds.

The Feds have opened a second investigation into the Ocean SUV after folding complaints

February 16 – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a second investigation into electric vehicle startup Fisker’s Ocean SUV, after the agency received Four complaints About the car unexpectedly overturning, including one injury. The company told TechCrunch that it is “fully cooperating” with the safety agency.

Fisker laid off 15% of employees

February 29 – Fisker announced its plan to lay off 15% of its workforce and He says She likely won’t have enough cash to survive the next 12 months. The company says it is trying to find a way to raise this money as it works by shifting from direct sales to a retail model.

Production was temporarily halted with only $121 million in the bank

March 18 Fisker announced it will pause production of its Ocean SUV for six weeks as it seeks a cash infusion. The company said in a regulatory filing that it had just $121 million in cash and cash equivalents as of March 15, of which $32 million was restricted or not immediately accessible. Fisker also said its accounts payable balance stands at $182 million, and that there is “substantial doubt” it can continue operations without raising new capital.

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Fisker lost the Nissan deal, putting the bailout money at risk

March 25 Negotiations between Fisker and a large automaker — said to be Nissan — over a potential investment and collaboration have been terminated, a development that jeopardizes separate near-term rescue financing efforts. Fisker revealed in a regulatory filing that the automaker ended negotiations on March 22, but did not explain why. But the company had to keep negotiations going as part of one of the closing terms of a $150 million convertible bond.

Trading was suspended by the New York Stock Exchange

March 25 – The New York Stock Exchange suspended trading in Fisker shares and moved to delist the company, because it was “no longer suitable for listing” due to “abnormally low” price levels.

Fisker lost track of millions of dollars in customer payments for months

March 27 -Fisker temporarily lost track of millions of dollars in customer payments while it expanded deliveries, triggering an internal audit that began in December and took months to complete. Fisker struggled to monitor these transactions, which included down payments and, in some cases, the full price of the vehicles, because of lax internal procedures to track them, according to three people familiar with the internal payment crisis. In a few cases, she delivered vehicles without collecting any form of payment at all, they said.

New round of layoffs to “preserve liquidity”

April 29 – Fisker Inc. The electric vehicle startup is laying off more employees to “conserve cash,” following through on a plan announced one week ago, according to an internal email seen by TechCrunch. Fisker expects to seek bankruptcy protection within the next 30 days if it is unable to provide those funds, according to a regulatory filing from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Fisker Solid Engineering Company

May 3 – Fisker stopped paying the engineering firm that helped develop the Pear, a low-cost electric vehicle for the masses, and the Alaska, Fisker’s entry into the hot pickup truck market. The company also accuses Fisker of illegally retaining intellectual property associated with those vehicles.

Fisker Ocean faces its fourth federal safety investigation

May 10 – The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened a fourth investigation into the Fisker Ocean SUV to investigate multiple allegations of “unintended automatic emergency braking.” The eight complaints allege that the owners experienced sudden activation of the automatic emergency braking system at moments when there were no other vehicles or obstacles in the path of their vehicles.

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Hundreds of workers cut corners to keep the electric vehicles running

May 29 – Hundreds of additional employees were laid off during the last week of May in a bid to stay afloat, as the automaker continues to seek financing, takeovers or prepare for bankruptcy. One current employee and a laid-off employee estimated that only about 150 people remained with the company.

Inside Fisker’s breakdown

May 31 Fisker’s road to ultimate ruin may have begun and ended with its faulty Ocean SUV, which was riddled with mechanical and software problems. But it was studded with arrogance, power struggles, and repeated failure to establish the basic processes that are essential to any automaker.

Ocean SUV has issued its first recall

June 12 – Fisker has issued its first recall for the Ocean SUV due to problems with warning lights, according to new information published by the NHTSA. The instrument panel displays the brake, stop, and antilock brake system warning lights in the wrong font size, and sometimes in the wrong color, making them noncompliant with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. The agency also says “multiple warning lights do not illuminate during the ignition cycle.”

Fisker filed for bankruptcy

June 18 — After a year of struggling to stay afloat, Fisker has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The California-based company has been seeking a deal with another automaker in a last-ditch effort to save the company. The company estimated its assets at $500 million to $1 billion and its liabilities at $100 million to $500 million, according to the filing.

Fisker failed because it was not ready to become an automobile company

June 18 – In the wake of its bankruptcy, Fisker said it would continue “reduced operations,” including “maintaining customer programs and compensating needed vendors on a going forward basis.” In other words, it will continue to run a core operation if there is a willing buyer for the assets it is offering for sale in a Chapter 11 case.

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