Startup EV Fisker Inc. wants to power its first SUV with Volkswagen’s modular electric vehicle platform, or “MEB”, and says it is in talks with the German automaker to do so. In fact, the SUV prototype that Fisker Inc. revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show 2020 was built on the MEB platform.
Fisker Inc. exposed all of this in a presentation to investors that was prepared before its desire to become a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, which the startup officially announced on Monday. The presentation was one of many pages of documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission by the publicly traded company Fisker Inc. plans to merge with Spartan Energy Acquisition Corporation, which was formed by the investment company Apollo Global Management .
Volkswagen announced the MEB platform in 2018 as part of its multi-billion dollar push into electric vehicles. It consists of a modular battery that can evolve to fit vehicles of different sizes, an engine and other electronic devices – essentially all of the technical underpinnings necessary to get an electric vehicle moving. All of Volkswagen’s next ID brand electric vehicles are built on the MEB platform and will also power certain vehicles of the Volkswagen group’s brands such as Audi, Seat and Skoda.
Volkswagen has announced its intention to sell access to MEB, an idea that has already won over Ford, which will build a utility vehicle powered by the platform of the German manufacturer. But it is also open to partnerships with startups. The first attempt, with the eGo Mobile in Germany, collapsed after the small start-up became insolvent.
Now, the automaker plans to work with Fisker Inc., with the prototype of its Ocean SUV – which was built by Volkswagen subsidiary Italdesign – apparently serving as a test of how a startup can differentiate the design of a powered vehicle. by MEB.
“Volkswagen is always open to supporting small series projects that demonstrate the variety of imaginable concepts based on the MEB platform through their emotional appearance,” a Volkswagen spokesperson said in an email to The edge. “In consultation with Volkswagen, the Audi Italdesign subsidiary has now used the MEB platform as the basis for the development of the Fisker Ocean SUV. However, no final decision has yet been made regarding possible cooperation with Fisker to implement a serial project. “
A spokesperson for Fisker Inc. declined to comment.
Using Volkswagen’s MEB platform to power an affordable SUV would be the opposite for Fisker Inc., which was founded in 2016. Founder Henrik Fisker spent the first few years promoting a luxury sedan and claimed that it was developing a semiconductor battery that would last longer and be easier to build than the lithium-ion batteries that power modern electric vehicles.
Slowly but surely, Fisker’s plans for the solid-state battery slipped further into the future, and he ultimately steered the company toward the development of the Ocean, a subscription-only SUV that would be powered by batteries lithium-ion.
However, according to the presentation to investors, it appears that the Ocean has been “developed” on the MEB platform. Fisker Inc. says that using the MEB platform will bring the ocean to market “in half the time and at considerably reduced costs.”
Fisker Inc. signed a memorandum of understanding with Volkswagen in November 2017 and a more extensive “collaboration agreement” in December 2018, according to the presentation to investors. A “basic agreement” that would finalize costs, production capacity and a schedule is expected to be signed in July 2020, the document said, with a supply and manufacturing agreement expected to be signed in the second half of this year. If these deals are made, Fisker Inc. plans to build 50 to 100 pre-production cars by the end of 2021 and begin production by the end of 2022. Fisker Inc. also told investors that it wanted to build two additional vehicles on the MEB Platform.
Electric vehicle startups have spent billions of dollars trying to become the next Tesla, and many have designed their own electric vehicle architecture along the way to either concede this technology to other companies or to attract a buyer from the tech industry. .
However, few have accomplished anything close, Rivian – who builds vehicles for Amazon and Ford on the basis of its EV platform in exchange for billions of dollars of investment – is the most obvious exception.
This becomes even more difficult when a company like Volkswagen is doing the same thing on a larger scale and at a lower cost. While Volkswagen’s willingness to work with Fisker Inc. would be something of a liferaft for a hopeful automaker who didn’t have a clear path to volume production, it could take even more stress on other startups struggling to survive.