Fisker, the California-based EV startup that makes the Ocean SUV, built over 10,000 cars last year but delivered fewer than half as it struggled with its direct sales approach, according to Reuters.
The undelivered cars, most of which have been largely paid for by the customers, have a value of about $290 million, the company said. In total, roughly 4,700 Ocean SUVs were delivered last year, but the EV maker expects to move all of the remaining inventory in the first quarter of 2024 as it pivots to a dealer-partner model.
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Direct sales failed for Fisker as inventory piled up in 2023
Fisker failed to deliver more than half the cars it built last year. The automaker said it plans on emptying the inventory by the end of the first quarter in 2024 with help from dealers, in addition to the direct sales approach it used until now.
This isn’t exactly great news for the American EV startup that manufactures its vehicles under contract in Austria. Previously, the Henrik Fisker-led automaker cut production output in December of last year to prioritize liquidity and slashed its production guidance several times in 2023.
Fisker had a pretty optimistic target of almost 42,400 vehicles for 2023, which was subsequently slimmed down to 32,000, then 20,000, then 13,000, and ultimately finishing the year with a little over 10,000 units built.
On the flipside, the startup said over 100 dealers in the United States, Canada, and Europe have expressed interest in becoming Fisker dealers, but it’s unclear how many will end up selling Fisker-branded vehicles in the end.
It’s worth noting that the company will try to sell cars both through dealers and the direct sales approach. At the beginning of 2024, the automaker’s CEO told Automotive News that the decision to offer dealer franchises is based in part on how fast the company can expand with dealers or without.
“I discovered that in this current situation, with high interest rates, [expensive] real estate, and getting people trained is much more difficult. I think we just went that route because everyone does when you are a startup,” Fisker said. “I went to my accounting department and asked what is the cost of selling a car? We decided we would rather give that money to a dealer so that we could expand faster,” he added for Automotive News.
To jumpstart its dealer franchise experiment, the California startup said it will host dealers at its headquarters in Manhattan Beach next week and several execs will make an appearance at the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) show in early February to try and convince dealers to sell Fisker EVs.