How Fisker Owners Are Banding Together To Keep Their Cars Running

3 weeks, 4 days ago - 25. June 2024, insideevs
How Fisker Owners Are Banding Together To Keep Their Cars Running
The new Fisker Owners Association aims to make sure that Ocean owners can keep their cars running even after Fisker's bankruptcy.

The electric vehicle startup Fisker filed for bankruptcy this week, leaving the thousands of people who bought its Ocean SUV in a worrisome state of limbo. They don't know how much longer Fisker will operate—and they aren't sure whether they can expect support for their cars over the coming years. 

Some Ocean owners are taking matters into their own hands by forming the Fisker Owners Association, which launched on Thursday. The nonprofit's mission: "To connect and empower Fisker Ocean owners worldwide, building a community that helps owners navigate present-day challenges and advocates for the long-term viability of our vehicles." 

In short, these owners want to make sure their vehicles remain roadworthy as long as possible, despite their manufacturer's financial struggles. 

That means ensuring a supply of replacement parts—which have been hard to come by—and publishing do-it-yourself fixes for problems that arise. The group also knows that ongoing support for the Ocean's software is a big, thorny question mark going forward, and it has a working group looking at that too. 

“There’s just a lot of stuff to figure out,” Cristian Fleming, an Ocean owner in New York and one of the organization's founders, told InsideEVs in an interview. “But I feel like if we’re all together, and there’s a community where we can support each other, it’s going to feel a lot less frightening.”

Car companies have gone under before, but Fisker owners may be entering uncharted territory. Finding parts or service for an old Saab or DeLorean is a headache, no doubt. But modern cars—and especially EVs like the Ocean—are extremely dependent on software to function, potentially making upkeep much more complicated.  

Fisker declined to comment on the group or on questions about long-term support for Oceans.

Importantly, the owners also are seeking a seat at the table as Fisker enters bankruptcy discussions. The group aims to fight for the warranties they were promised and hopes to win some guarantees around the continued availability of parts, said Brandon Jones, the association's interim board chair. 

They're also advocating for continued access to 4G connectivity, which is required for the Ocean's navigation system and other features. And, Jones said, they know that service technicians need to connect to a centralized IT infrastructure to maintain Oceans, so they're interested in that living on as well.

Fisker hasn't yet provided features that it said would arrive via software updates—things like self-parking, adaptive cruise control and vehicle-to-vehicle charging capability. Jones said the association is pushing for Fisker to deliver those features or compensate owners for their absence. 

“There are a whole lot of creditors who want to get paid by [Fisker]" Fleming said. "I don’t hear a whole lot of talk about the people who own the cars, and that’s unfortunate.” The association had a few hundred members as of Thursday, he said. 

The availability of replacement parts has been a sore spot for Fisker owners since the Ocean started rolling out to U.S. customers last summer. Everything from windshields and bumpers to door handles and air vents has been in short supply. Former Fisker employees told InsideEVs that's because the company never created a proper stockpile of parts in the U.S., which the company denies.

As a result, owners have had to wait months for simple fixes, and some have had their vehicles totaled over minor damage. So creating a healthy supply chain of parts is a key priority for the Fisker Owners Association right now—and it will be even more crucial if Fisker ceases to operate, Fleming said. 

“If Fisker does in fact go away and there is nothing from them in terms of support, we’ve got to create that support network,” he said. 

Some owners have been disassembling cars to learn what components are proprietary and what's more commonly available, he said. The group aims to create a database of the parts that are failing most and which owners need them. 

Fisker, the second EV startup from famed car designer Henrik Fisker, aimed to mitigate the risks of starting a car company by outsourcing production to an experienced manufacturer, Magna. But the firm struggled with a troublesome product, accounting snafus, mismanagement and poor customer service, according to reporting from InsideEVs and others. 

Ultimately, the Fisker Owners Association's responsibilities and mission going forward will depend on what happens to the startup. 

"We're here for the sustainable ownership of the Fisker Ocean and whatever that might entail," said Jones. "I think that's going to evolve as as Fisker's status evolves."

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