Company Car Today

American electric vehicle start-up Fisker is targeting fleet sales when it enters the UK market late next year with its Ocean SUV.

In an exclusive interview with Company Car Today, founder, chairman and chief executive Henrik Fisker said: “When you look at the current landscape of electric vehicles, you’re either looking at smaller hatchbacks that are often too small for fleet vehicles with too little range, or you’re looking at pricier vehicles, which are usually out of the price range of what a company car driver can afford.

“Our vehicle has a price of $37,500, which will translate to less than €40,000 (£35,632) if bought outright, so we think we’ll have an attractive vehicle for fleets.” Specifications for the Ocean are yet to be revealed in full, but Fisker told CCT it has a maximum range of 350 miles, calculated using the American testing cycle, so he expects the European test to record a higher figure.

 

SETTING UP IN THE UK
To illustrate that the company is keen to break into the fleet market, Fisker has signed deals to outsource work to two large players in the sector – Rivus Fleet Solutions and Cox Automotive.

The former will provide SMR support through its network of garages, while the latter will concentrate on logistics and remarketing; aside from a ‘consumer experience centre’ in London, Fisker won’t have a physical presence in the UK.

In a departure from fleet convention, businesses won’t be able to lease the vehicle from a traditional broker and will have to go direct – and it is for this reason that Fisker said he won’t offer discounts for businesses looking to take on multiple vehicles. However, the Danish-born entrepreneur conceded fleets would still have preferential treatment over private motorists.

He said: “We don’t need to do a bulk discount because we’ve already taken the little men out. We already have a good price level, but what we would do for fleets, we will give them special service when it comes to taking care of the vehicle. For example, we will come and pick up the vehicles for servicing, so employees don’t have to stop working. We will also monitor the vehicles and we can maybe even deliver unique specifications if we needed,” he said.

 

NO NEED FOR LEASING FIRMS
Also going out the window with Fisker is a traditional leasing period, with the firm instead offering a flexible arrangement. UK prices are yet to be confirmed, but in the US, the lease is from $374 (£273) a month, with a 30,000-mile yearly limit and all service, maintenance and repair costs included, along with a one-time $2999 (£2194) “initiation and activation fee”.

Fisker explains the rationale behind this model: “We already have an extremely low price and will offer an outstanding service, making sure that if there are any problems with the vehicle, we will exchange it. With our flexible lease we are offering that we can take back the vehicle at any time at, no cost or penalty. Normally, if you have an employee that gets a company car and leaves, what do you do with it? If you don’t have another employee to give it to, you’re stuck with this lease. We will take back the car, no questions asked.”

Vehicle downtime is the bane of a fleet manager’s life and Fisker said company cars can be kept on the road, rather than having to be booked in for repairs, as a result of the agreement with Rivus.

“Rivus already has more than 1000 service centres in the UK. Can you imagine if we had to build 1000 centres? Even our closest competitor has only 500 service centres so we can instantly provide service immediately, and that’s important for fleets because they need efficiency,” he said.

Fisker pointed out another benefit of taking the leasing companies out the equation. He said the deal with Cox enables the firm to control residual values once a company car driver hands back the vehicle: “It won’t go to an auction, which would impact its resale value. We own the vehicle and we will keep it until the end of its life, so it means there will be a limited availability of Fisker vehicles in the marketplace which should help to create a really strong resale value,” he reckoned.

The Ocean is so named because it is made using recycled materials that would otherwise be littering seabeds. It is claimed to be the “world’s most sustainable car” and Fisker claimed eco-conscious companies will be drawn to it over other EVs, and petrol and diesel vehicles.

He said: “We go beyond electric; we’re using recycled materials and we look at our suppliers and what they do and we’re going to keep increasing this effort. From a marketing stand-point, it is very good point for any company to have a fleet of sustainable vehicles because it says something about you as a company and what you stand for.

“I think you simply cannot underestimate how customers and employees look at you as a company and the choices you make and the impact that has on society and the environment,” he concludes.

Daniel Puddicombe