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Tesla Rival Fisker Looks to Make EV Splash With Ocean Model

The Fisker Ocean makes an appearance in Brooklyn as the electric-vehicle company eyes a November production start.
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People were lining up in Brooklyn on Sunday morning, and it wasn't for bagels.

The queue on River Street in the Williamsburg section of the New York City borough had come to get a look at the Fisker  (FSR) - Get Free Report Ocean, the Manhattan Beach, Calif., company's electric SUV. 

People waited their chance to sit inside and pose for photos with the Big Sur blue vehicle.

'Thank You, #fiskerfam'

"Thank you #fiskerfam," the company tweeted. "We will be back. Where to next...?"

The company said that last month the Fisker Ocean One sold out in 30 days, with each secured by a $5,000 deposit, which amounts to $350 million in potential revenue once all the vehicles are delivered.

Production is slated to start Nov. 15, with deliveries starting shortly thereafter.

The Extreme model will sell for about $69,000, while the Ultra is priced at about $50,000 and the Sport will go for $37,499 before incentives.

The Ocean will be cruising into some choppy waters at it joins electric-vehicle titan Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Free Report and the legacy automakers that plan to throw the internal combustion engine overboard.

'Most Sustainable Vehicle on the Road'

"Basically, this car was conceptualized two years ago and going into production in November, so that's really fast," Matthew DeBord, Fisker's senior communications director, said. "That's twice as fast as anyone else. I don't think Tesla did anything that fast."

The Ocean will use upcycled materials, including reclaimed fishing nets, old t-shirts, and renewed rubber.

"We want to have most sustainable vehicle on the road," DeBord said.

With that in mind, the Ocean comes with a solar roof that DeBord said "puts 2,000 miles in the car over the course of a year just sitting in the sunshine."

Last year Fisker and Magna International  (MGA) - Get Free Report finalized a long-term manufacturing agreement under which Magna will produce the Ocean at a plant in Austria.

'What we get for that is assured quality," DeBord said. "Magna knows how to build a car. They've built great cars before."

Magna, Aurora, Ontario, has developed more than 40 complete vehicles and derivatives and produced about 3.7 million vehicles, according to the company's website.

'Balance Sheet Remains Solid'

"You're not entirely sure what you’re getting with some of these startups because they’ve just got a factory, just started building a vehicle car, they’ve never done it before," DeBord said. 

Chairman and Chief Executive Henrik Fisker, who founded the company, is an automotive entrepreneur who has designed such luxury vehicles as the BMW Z8,  (BAMXF)  the Aston Martin DB9 and the Ocean.

In 2007, he co-founded Fisker Automotive, which ran into difficulties, including the recall of its battery. Fisker resigned from the company in 2013 over "disagreements with management."

Earlier this month, Fisker posted a second-quarter net loss of $106 million, or 36 cents a share, compared with the consensus analyst estimate compiled by FactSet of a loss of 41 cents a share.  

During a call with analysts, Fisker said the balance sheet "remains solid at over $850 million in cash, and our business continues to scale," according to a transcript of the call.

"The Fisker teams are now over 550 people representing over 60% growth year-to-date, including our new [senior vice president] of global manufacturing, who will focus on a lean manufacturing, and innovative techniques," Fisker said.

Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas downgraded the company to equal weight from overweight, while cutting his price target to $10 from $15.

Jonas said that continuing macro and geopolitical risk, compounded by European gas-shortage risk -- all of Fisker's production is in Austria -- elevates its near-term execution risk.

Citi analyst Itay Michaeli raised his price target to $28 from $27, while keeping a buy rating on the shares.

'Important Milestones'

At last check Fisker shares were trading around $9. The 52-week high of $23.75 was set in mid-November.

Michaeli said he found no major surprises in the company's "fairly encouraging" second-quarter update. He said that at current valuations, the setup is favorable to Fisker's "important milestones.

During the call, Geeta Gupta-Fisker, chief financial officer and Fisker's wife, said that "our unique model reduces the high operating leverage inherent in this industry and dramatically shortens the development time frame."

"In this current tough environment, it is extremely important that I emphasize our asset-light strategy, which we started off with over two years ago," she said.

She added that commodity pricing "has come off the boil since our last call. For example, steel, which is more important for Ocean than aluminum, is down 40% from early May, and 55% year-on-year. Key battery components have also moderated a bit." 

Gupta-Fisker said that "we are very confident that if there's upward movement and commodity pricing, we have enough headroom to absorb that."