Fisker's Losses Narrow as Two EV Projects Move Forward

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 Narrow as Two EV Projects Move Forward
Zac Estrada

Fisker Inc. is plotting a November debut of its electric SUV at the Los Angeles Auto Show and accelerating development of its small car, executives told investors Thursday.

The Manhattan Beach-based electric vehicle startup is being buoyed by President Biden's executive order calling to have half of all new cars sales be plug-in vehicles by 2030.

Fisker reported a $53.1 million loss for the second quarter of 2021, roughly a third of the losses it posted in the first quarter. It says it beat internal expectations, but also noted the previous quarter reflected more spending on staffing and engineering on the two vehicles, and the company could show increased spending later in the year.

Fisker's stock closed Thursday at $15.53, up 5.29%.

The call is in the run-up to the anticipated reveal in November of the company's first product, the Ocean EV SUV, at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Founder and CEO Henrik Fisker said it was on track for a Nov. 17, 2022 start of production with its partner, Magna Steyr, in Austria.

On Wednesday, the New York Auto Show, set to start Aug. 20, was canceled due to the rise in cases and hospitalizations. Fisker said if the L.A. Auto Show is shut down, he has a contingency plan that would include a smaller company event around the same time.

Fisker projects 25,000 reservations by the end of 2021 and 50,000 by the time production starts. But the company admitted there has been a slowdown in reservations, and attributed this to the lack of new details on the Ocean before November.

The $37,500 Ocean is expected to reach a few buyers in the U.S. and Europe in 2022, and reach full production in 2023 when the company projects the factory in Austria will produce 5,000 of the SUVs per month. It will be available in three variants with different levels of equipment and power, with prices going up to $60,000 before EV incentives.

But Fisker, the former Aston Martin and BMW designer, said design will sell the Ocean and all EVs going forward.

"It was about how the engine sounds, how the gears felt. Those things are going away," Fisker said. "Who wants to drive a boring dorky car if you can get a good car for the same price?"

Fisker also reported that its sub-$30,000 Project PEAR small EV, first announced in February, is approaching a new phase of its development for a 2023 launch. The company says this and the other two models that Fisker plans to produce by 2025 will use components, software and testing methods created for the Ocean.

Developed with Foxconn, known for manufacturing Apple products, the PEAR is expected to be built in the U.S., but Fisker still has announced a location.

In Biden's address on Thursday, he was surrounded by General Motors CEO Mary Barra and representatives from the United Auto Workers, among others. Biden asked consumers to buy American and support unionized workers.

While Fisker's first car won't be made in the U.S., he still supports Biden's mandate and wants continued federal support for EV incentives and dismissed concerns that it would create more competition from larger automakers.

"Even if someone said today 'we're going to go full speed on EVs,' you're probably looking at 2026 onwards," before the product goes to market, he said. "I would expect the Biden administration to put a lot of pressure on that the next four years and that's when we're launching our vehicles."

Fisker's report comes ahead of crosstown startup rival Canoo Inc.'s second-quarter earnings report on August 16.

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

NASA’s JPL Receives Billions to Begin Understanding Our Solar System

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

NASA’s JPL Receives Billions to Begin Understanding Our Solar System
Evan Xie

NASA’s footprint in California is growing as the agency prepares for Congress to approve its proposed 2024 budget.

The overall NASA budget swelled 6% from the prior year, JPL deputy director Larry James told dot.LA. He added he sees that as a continuation of the last two presidential administrations’ focus on modernizing and bolstering the nation’s space program.

The money goes largely to existing NASA centers in California, including the Pasadena-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory run with Caltech, Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley and Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base.

California remains a hotspot for NASA space activity and investment. In 2021, the agency estimated its economic output impact on the region to be around $15.2 billion. That was far more than its closest competing states, including Texas ($9.3 billion) and Maryland (roughly $8 billion). That same year, NASA reported it employed over 66,000 people in California.

“In general, Congress has been very supportive” of the JPL and NASA’s missions, James said. “It’s generally bipartisan [and] supported by both sides of the aisle. In the last few years in general NASA has been able to have increased budgets.”

There are 41 current missions run by JPL and CalTech, and another 16 scheduled for the future. James added the new budget is “an incredible support for all the missions we want to do.”

The public-private partnership between NASA and local space companies continues to evolve, and the increased budget could be a boon for LA-based developers. Numerous contractors for NASA (including CalTech, which runs the JPL), Boeing, Lockheed Martin, SpaceX and Northrop Grumman all stand to gain new contracts once the budget is finalized, partly because NASA simply needs the private industry’s help to achieve all its goals.

James said that there was only one JPL mission that wasn’t funded – a mission to send an orbital satellite to survey the surface and interior of Venus, called VERITAS.

NASA Employment and Output ImpactEvan Xie

The Moon and Mars

Much of the money earmarked in the proposed 2024 budget is for crewed missions. Overall, NASA’s asking for $8 billion from Congress to fund lunar exploration missions. As part of this, the majority is earmarked for the upcoming Artemis mission, which aims to land a woman and person of color on the Moon’s south pole.

While there’s a number of high-profile missions the JPL is working on that are focused on Mars, including Mars Sample Return project (which received $949 million in this proposed budget) and Ingenuity helicopter and Perseverance rover, JPL also received significant funding to study the Earth’s climate and behavior.

JPL also got funding for several projects to map our universe. One is the SphereX Near Earth Objects surveyor mission, the goal of which is to use telescopes to “map the entire universe,” James said, adding that the mission was fully funded.

International Space Station

NASA’s also asking for more money to maintain the International Space Station (ISS), which houses a number of projects dedicated to better understanding the Earth’s climate and behavior.

The agency requested roughly $1.3 billion to maintain the ISS. It also is increasing its investment in space flight support, in-space transportation and commercial development of low-earth orbit (LEO). “The ISS is an incredible platform for us,” James said.

James added there are multiple missions outside or on board the ISS now taking data, including EMIT, which launched in July 2022. The EMIT mission studies arid dust sources on the planet using spectroscopy. It uses that data to remodel how mineral dust movement in North and South America might affect the Earth’s temperature changes.

Another ISS mission JPL launched is called ECOSTRESS. The mission sent a thermal radiometer onto the space station in June 2018 to monitor how plants lose water through their leaves, with the goal of figuring out how the terrestrial biosphere reacts to changes in water availability. James said the plan is to “tell you the kind of foliage health around the globe” from space.

One other ISS project is called Cold Atom Lab. It is “an incredible fundamental physics machine,” James said, that’s run by “three Nobel Prize winners as principal investigators on the Space Station.” Cold Atom Lab is a physics experiment geared toward figuring out how quantum phenomena behave in space by cooling atoms with lasers to just below absolute zero degrees.

In the long term, James was optimistic NASA’s imaging projects could lead to more dramatic discoveries. Surveying the makeup of planets’ atmospheres is a project “in the astrophysics domain we’re very excited about,” James said. He added that this imaging could lead to information about life on other planets, or, at the very least, an understanding of why they’re no longer habitable.

Behind Her Empire: Margaret Wishingrad On Creating A Low Sugar Cereal Brand

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

Behind Her Empire: Margaret Wishingrad On Creating A Low Sugar Cereal Brand
Provided by BHE

On this episode of Behind Her Empire, Three Wishes founder and CEO Margaret Wishingrad talks about creating brand awareness and shares the key component to running a successful business.

Read moreShow less

If Angelenos Don’t Seize the Curb, They Risk Losing Sidewalk Dining

Maylin Tu
Maylin Tu is a freelance writer who lives in L.A. She writes about scooters, bikes and micro-mobility. Find her hovering by the cheese at your next local tech mixer.
Connie Llanos, Jordan Justus and Gene Oh
Justin Janes, Vizeos Media

Three years ago, Los Angeles went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, cities like L.A. are struggling to hold on to pandemic-era transportation and infrastructure changes, like sidewalk dining and slow streets, while managing escalating demand for curb space from rideshare and delivery.

At Curbivore, a conference dedicated to “commerce at the curb” held earlier this month in downtown Los Angeles, the topic was “Grading on a Curb: The State of our Streets & Cities in 2023,” a panel moderated by Drew Grant, editorial director for dot.LA.

Read moreShow less