Fisker premieres razor-sharp, 400-mile electric four-door at CES
Fisker Inc. has plenty of experience teasing and detailing its debut car ... more than a year of it, in fact. But before 2018, the all-electric EMotion had yet to be properly introduced to the world at a formal premiere. That's all changed at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, where Fisker is showing off a devilishly red EMotion, its compelling interior and the cutting edge battery technology that promises to drive it over 400 miles (644 km) per charge.
Following the unraveling of his previous company Fisker Automotive, there was a brief period of time we would have expected to see Henrik Fisker at a petrol-scented auto show pulling the cloth off a V10-stuffed sports car, or even at an international yacht show presenting an ocean-splitting superyacht. But not so much at CES.
But the EMotion is a different beast. Not only is it an all-electric vehicle at a show that loves electric vehicles, it's an all-out technological tour de force highlighted by its budding solid-state battery technology, advanced Level 4 autonomy suite, and luxurious interior designed for limousine-like comfort and leisure.
The interior might be the most interesting part of this week's debut since Fisker had previously been keeping it mostly concealed behind the smartphone app-lift butterfly doors. Fisker fancies it the luxury interior of the future, and from what we're seeing, the young company has done a masterful job melding the worlds of performance sports coupes and luxury sedans.
While the EMotion will offer autonomous driving for those who so choose, we're guessing many drivers won't want to cede control once they drop into the ultra-soft leather driver's seat, wrap their fingers around the steering wheel and get a status update from the digital dash. The EMotion is built to keep the driver's attention fully focused on negotiating the nuances of the road ahead, the driver's compartment cut off from the passenger side by a carbon fiber center console and diagonally dropped tablet-sized digital display. There's also a separate dash display.
The driver's seat is certainly inviting, but it isn't the most prized in the EMotion house. In fact, passengers won't have the slightest inclination to call "shotgun" and will instead be fighting over the passenger-side rear seat. This VIP seat, available as part of the "chauffeur edition," features miles of legroom and a 27-in curved display in place of the puny screen you'd expect to see affixed to the back of the front headrest.
Whether or not the buyer opts for the chauffeur package, Fisker promises four individual "first class" seats with electric adjustment. Alternatively, a three-seat bench can fill out the rear to create a sporty five-seater. Up above, the roof has a four-zone adjustable tint system.
Fisker is able to keep the cabin roomy in spite of the sporty exterior thanks to the decentralized nature of the electric powertrain and overall body design, with its short hood, long wheelbase and tiny overhangs.
We've already had a good look at the EMotion's general proportions, along with the redesigned, centered-LIDAR face, but the CES reveal gives a better feel for how sporty and aggressive it is all around. The rear 3/4 view brings to light the large carbon diffuser, precisely proportioned spoiler, sharp lighting signature and sloped roofline – definitely a car that looks like it's ready to use its immediate torque to pounce off the line.
Fisker's autonomy suite includes five Quanergy LIDAR units spread around the front and rear. The EMotion's hardware kit will support autonomous driving up to Level 4, though that probably won't be fully active until later down the line.
Beyond reiterating a 161-mph (259-km/h) top speed, Fisker is still keeping quiet about the specifics of the motors driving all four wheels. But it is doing some (limited) talking about the flexible solid-state battery that it hopes will eventually keep those motors running.
The question of Fisker's battery has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride over the year+ that the EMotion has been public. What hasn't wavered is Fisker's 400-mile (644-km) range promise. What has is what type of cells will be delivering it.
When Fisker first announced the EMotion back in October 2016, it was all about graphene battery tech and a Fisker Nanotech partnership aiming to create a "radical new battery technology" that would establish a "new paradigm of what's possible." Within a few short months, though, the company was dropping mention of a back-up plan of ol', reliable lithium-ion.
Last June, Automotive News reported that the Fisker Nanotech partnership was disbanded and Fisker was shifting focus toward solid-state battery technology. A few months later, Fisker provided a bit more detail about the direction of that solid-state work, breakthroughs it was working on and some patent filings. The announcement was quite speculative, but items like the 500+ mile (805+ km) range and 1-minute charging time still popped to life right off the page. They were rather difficult to take at face value, however.
On the optimistic side, Fisker is working with Dr. Fabio Albano, co-founder of solid-state startup Sakti3, which was gobbled up by the Dyson vacuum guys in their own bid to create the electric wundercar. Fisker believes it will be able to overcome solid-state technology shortcomings in areas like temperature range, manufacturing scalability and high cost, focusing its work on 3D electrode-based batteries with 2.5 times the energy density of lithium-ion. Beyond helping to spur the electric automobile revolution, such batteries could have wide-reaching effects in other industries, including consumer electronics.
That's if it all goes anywhere. Basically Fisker dropped one ultimate (but not ready yet) super-battery technology for an even better (but not ready yet) super-battery technology. You'll be excused – applauded, even – for being more than a touch skeptical.
Whether or not Fisker's solid-state tech lives up to the hype, or even makes it out of the laboratory, one thing is for sure, it won't be doing it in time for launch. Fisker says the solid-state tech won't be ready for production automobiles until sometime between 2020 and 2023 ... and looking at its other estimates and announcement language, we're seeing a trend of unbridled optimism.
Fisker is showing a pair of solid-state batteries as part of its CES exhibit. As for the EMotion show car, the company said previously that it would use LG Chem NMC lithium-ion battery cells. And lots of 'em, more than any other EV previously.
It seems like every time Fisker drops new information about the EMotion, it better highlights what we don't know and/or can't quite trust about the car than what we can take away with any amount of confidence. It's been over a year, and while the car has now made its official world debut, we still don't have solid powertrain or battery specs, and estimates like the 400-mile range still seem suspect. So, here we are again, thinking, we'll believe it when we see it ... not on a stage, but in action.
Fisker plans to begin production in 2019 at a US-based manufacturing location to be announced in the second half of 2018. The EMotion's base price is currently set at $129,900.
Source: Fisker Inc.
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