Fisker's Losses Mount as It Readies for Production of Its Electric SUV

Zac Estrada

Zac Estrada is a reporter covering transportation, technology and policy. A former reporter for The Verge and Jalopnik, his work has also appeared in Automobile Magazine, Autoweek, Pacific Standard, and BLAC Detroit. A native of Southern California, he is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston. You can find him on Twitter at @zacestrada.

Fisker's Losses Mount as It Readies for Production of Its Electric SUV

Fisker Inc. is charging ahead with plans to get its first electric vehicle into production by the end of next year amid increased competition from startups and established automakers, despite ballooning losses.

The Manhattan Beach-based startup automaker posted losses of $176.8 million in the first quarter of 2021, compared to $1.13 million in the first quarter of 2020.

Fisker said Monday it has more than 16,000 reservations for the Ocean EV SUV and is on track for a September 2022 start of production at the Magna Steyr plant in Austria. First deliveries would begin at the end of that year, but the final production version of the vehicle would appear first in November at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Fisker is aiming for a 350-mile range on most models and a starting price of less than $38,000.

"I feel really good about 16,000 reservations," Chairman and CEO Henrik Fisker said on Monday. "I think that's pretty amazing considering as some people say there's a crowded market out there."

Fisker downplayed any concerns of delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic or component shortages.

The company revealed that $30 million in expense guidance was earmarked for costs related to a small vehicle, dubbed Project PEAR, that was announced in February.

Fisker and Foxconn have finalized an agreement to allow the Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer to produce the sub-$30,000 EV in the United States by the end of 2023. Today, Henrik Fisker said the exterior design of the vehicle, which he told dot.LA in March would be radical and unconventional, has been completed and several key components were being sourced.

Two more models are expected to follow the second Fisker vehicle before the end of 2025, although the company hasn't said if those models would be produced with the help of Foxconn or Magna International, which has a 6% stake in the automaker.

Fisker said Sharp Corp. would develop the screens and user interfaces for production versions of the Ocean and PEAR vehicles, and potentially the other two projected cars. The deal would contribute to both the Ocean and PEAR sharing as much as 30% of their components.

Fisker reported it ended Q1 2021 with a cash balance of $985 million. The company's shares closed at $11.22, up 6.86%, but were down in after hours trading.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.