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    Rise and Fall of ‘Tesla Killers’: Lessons from Fisker’s Bankruptcy

    May 21, 2024

    Rise and Fall of 'Tesla Killers': Lessons from Fisker's Bankruptcy

    Every winner in the market stands on the shoulders of their competitors. The automotive industry, highly competitive and capital-intensive, requires long-term investment and continuous innovation to succeed. In the unpredictable market competition, attracting investment is not enough, the right business strategy is also needed to ultimately produce high-quality products. Author | Guanhai Source | Jincuodao Car Review Jincuodao authorized reprint In the new energy vehicle industry, nine out of ten companies want to become “Tesla killers.” However, so far, no competitor has killed Tesla, but one after another has been defeated by the market. For example, the American car company Rivian, which has been listed for less than two and a half years, has already announced layoffs three times, and its market value has dropped from over $150 billion to $100 billion.

    Rise and Fall of 'Tesla Killers': Lessons from Fisker's Bankruptcy

    Recently, a former “Tesla killer” has come to an end. Fisker, once valued at over $8.8 billion, now worth less than $1 billion. Fisker’s founder, who once vowed to replace Tesla and enter the Chinese market, has now become empty talk.

    Rise and Fall of 'Tesla Killers': Lessons from Fisker's Bankruptcy

    Fisker’s market value has plummeted, headquarters closed, facing numerous lawsuits – already received over 30 lawsuits for debt collection. It’s safe to say it’s on the brink of bankruptcy. Musk must be somewhat pleased with Fisker’s downfall.

    Rise and Fall of 'Tesla Killers': Lessons from Fisker's Bankruptcy

    Elon Musk’s most hated man once created the “Tesla killer”. Most “Tesla killers” can’t compete with Tesla, but Fisker has a connection with Tesla. Fisker’s founder Henrik Fisker, a car designer, previously worked at BMW’s advanced design studio and participated in the design of Aston Martin vehicles. He quickly gained fame in the industry.

    Rise and Fall of 'Tesla Killers': Lessons from Fisker's Bankruptcy

    Fisker-designed vehicles In 2005, he founded a car design company, specializing in customizing luxury cars. At that time, Tesla approached him to work on the initial design of the Model S. Fisker completed the design within a year and quickly established a new energy car company, Fisker Automotive, to produce extended-range electric vehicles. As a result, Musk accused Fisker of stealing from Tesla and took him to court. Although Musk later lost the case, he never got over it and always belittled Fisker whenever he had the chance: “Fisker Karma is just a mediocre product, small space and expensive!” In 2011, Karma was officially launched and both Leonardo DiCaprio and Justin Bieber were owners, making the car highly sought after for a while, being considered Tesla’s strongest competitor for a long time.

    Rise and Fall of 'Tesla Killers': Lessons from Fisker's Bankruptcy

    Just as Musk wished, the company declared bankruptcy in 2013 due to delivery and funding issues. However, Fisker, who didn’t want to design cars, was not a good entrepreneur. After a failed attempt, Fisker’s passion for making cars remained strong. In 2016, Fisker founded Fisker and re-entered the automotive industry. This time, he didn’t go the hybrid route but instead, like Tesla, focused on pure electric. His first model, a mid-size SUV named Ocean, debuted in 2020 with a starting price of $38,999, directly targeting the Tesla market. Fisker even claimed that the Fisker Ocean would be a “primary alternative” to Tesla’s Model 3 and Model Y.

    Rise and Fall of 'Tesla Killers': Lessons from Fisker's Bankruptcy

    At that time, Fisker was not just talking big. This car can go up to 300 miles on pure electric power and accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds, some specs can compete with Tesla. Not only targeting Tesla, Fisker also wants to keep up with Tesla in pace. Last year, Fisker visited China with several executives and discussed opportunities with the Shanghai government, many thought Fisker might follow Tesla’s lead and set up a factory in China for manufacturing, sales, and after-sales services. After the visit, Fisker announced plans to establish a delivery center in China by 2023, delivering their first model, the Fisker Ocean.

    Rise and Fall of 'Tesla Killers': Lessons from Fisker's Bankruptcy

    If time could stop at this moment, Fisk would surely be willing.

    Rise and Fall of 'Tesla Killers': Lessons from Fisker's Bankruptcy

    Reckless Life: Nothing but failures in addition to design! Ambitious Fisker, unexpectedly faced a sharp decline. In February this year, Fisker officially announced that due to the company’s stock price being below $1 for a long time, they received a non-compliance notice from the New York Stock Exchange. In March this year, they announced a six-week production halt. By May, Fisker’s corporate headquarters is also set to close, leaving few employees forced to work at the factory.

    Rise and Fall of 'Tesla Killers': Lessons from Fisker's Bankruptcy

    At this point, the key words surrounding this former star car company are only delisting, bankruptcy, debt collection, lawsuits… Ultimately, the reason for this situation is that the cars are not selling. In 2023, Fisker produced over 10,000 vehicles, but only delivered 4,900 to customers, less than half of the production volume.

    Rise and Fall of 'Tesla Killers': Lessons from Fisker's Bankruptcy

    From prosperity to bankruptcy, Fisker can only blame itself. Imitating others, Fisker spent money lavishly on the handle of the knife. As a newcomer, Fisker, who was not wealthy in funds, spent money generously. Before establishing a solid foundation at home, it started global operations. Its office addresses span three continents, production is entrusted to the Graz factory in Austria, and its own offices are set up in Asia.

    Rise and Fall of 'Tesla Killers': Lessons from Fisker's Bankruptcy

    Although Fisker believes that the global outsourcing business model implies an agile and efficient supply chain, the challenges brought by excessive global operations far outweigh the benefits for a company with only a few hundred employees. For example, Fisker’s difficulty in delivering cars is due to logistics challenges in the supply chain. Fisker himself admitted that logistics issues in transporting vehicles from Austria to the United States have always been a major obstacle. In addition, for Fisker, overly dispersed regions also bring higher costs to design, research and development, legal affairs, and many other matters. The desired result is to take one step and start dragging one’s feet. Technical dragging feet, no one wants even if it’s free. Compared to extravagant global operations, Fisker’s biggest flaw is its product power. Well-known tech blogger MKBHD previously said after test driving a Fisker Ocean, “This is the worst car I’ve ever driven” and “Even if you give me this car for free, I won’t drive it.” During the test drive, he found many problems, such as the smart key not working properly, hill start assist with slipping risk, solar roof unable to be monitored in real time, and various warning lights randomly lighting up on the dashboard.

    Rise and Fall of 'Tesla Killers': Lessons from Fisker's Bankruptcy

    Other drawbacks besides software bugs include: some interior space layout is not reasonable, such as the tray table occupying a lot of glove box space, the buttons on the multifunction steering wheel are prone to accidental touch… Earlier, Fisker Ocean faced complaints about brake failure and was investigated by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As Musk has previously commented on Fisker: “He simply doesn’t understand electric vehicles, always thinking that excellent design alone can make electric vehicles bestsellers, but the root of everything is technical issues.” A word to the wise is enough.

    Rise and Fall of 'Tesla Killers': Lessons from Fisker's Bankruptcy

    “Building cars + painting pies”, is also a favorite trick of Americans. For a while, the reputation of new energy vehicle companies was not very good, almost tied with negative terms such as painting pies and cheating subsidies. Jia Yueting is still telling the story in the United States. Sitech Automotive, at the release event at the Bird’s Nest with a budget of over 100 million, boasted of “Chinese manufacturing, marketed globally”, but only produced a few old men’s cars.

    Rise and Fall of 'Tesla Killers': Lessons from Fisker's Bankruptcy

    Even more exaggerated is the case of GreenWheel Motors: founded 6 years ago, claiming to have raised 100 billion in funding, yet not a single car has been sold.

    Rise and Fall of 'Tesla Killers': Lessons from Fisker's Bankruptcy

    Unreliable new energy vehicle companies are collapsing, bringing the market back to normal. Surprisingly, similar situations have been happening in the US. Take Fisker for example, promising collaborations with Foxconn to produce affordable electric cars in 2021, sell cars in India in 2022, and establish delivery centers in China in 2023. However, these promises remain unfulfilled. For instance, Fisker’s highly publicized solid-state batteries were never developed, and their first car used batteries from CATL and LFP.

    Rise and Fall of 'Tesla Killers': Lessons from Fisker's Bankruptcy

    However, in the case of Fisker, it is not the most outrageous situation in the United States. “Nikola”, a company that sells heavy-duty trucks and specializes in hydrogen fuel cell power, positions itself as the “Tesla of the trucking industry”. The founder even openly stated that few people in the world surpass Musk, “I am one of them”. In 2016, Nikola, which was founded two years ago, held a press conference and showcased the hydrogen fuel cell truck Nikola One.

    Rise and Fall of 'Tesla Killers': Lessons from Fisker's Bankruptcy

    The founder emphasized: one hydrogen charge can run nearly 2000 kilometers, this truck will have 6 motors, the cabin is equipped with high-tech touch screen, panoramic windshield, 2 luxurious beds, and a 42-inch TV. Once testing is completed, one driver can manage a fleet of trucks. More clever than domestic companies making cars with PPT, Nikola also released a “on the road” video of this truck.

    Rise and Fall of 'Tesla Killers': Lessons from Fisker's Bankruptcy

    The ultimate truth slapped everyone’s face: it’s all a show and a scam. Other unreliable car companies, the collapse scenes are similar yet each has its own “brilliance”. Proterra, known as the “Tesla of the bus industry”, declared bankruptcy just 25 months after going public.

    Rise and Fall of 'Tesla Killers': Lessons from Fisker's Bankruptcy

    Lordstown, founded 5 years ago, produces less than 100 electric trucks since its inception and declared bankruptcy last July, claiming to be more competitive than Tesla’s Cybertruck.

    Rise and Fall of 'Tesla Killers': Lessons from Fisker's Bankruptcy

    Mullen, which suddenly appeared at the car show earlier this year, used to only assemble cheap Chinese electric microvans, which seemed unreliable. Today, many car companies that made empty promises have gone bankrupt. It is regrettable that resources have been wasted and many people have been deceived, but it is also gratifying that with each of these companies gone, the market becomes cleaner. Both Chinese and American new energy vehicles must go through a rigorous selection process. Image source: Internet, please contact for removal of infringement “Jin Cuodao Car Reviews” Is an automotive account under Jin Cuodao Will take the perspective of Jin Cuodao’s explosive products, Dig deep into the toughest dry goods of new energy car companies Follow for a knowledgeable car enthusiast in the world.