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California-based Fisker Inc. unveiled the five-seat Ocean SUV last month at the Los Angeles Auto Show.Matt Petit/Supplied

Henrik Fisker, car designer and serial electric-vehicle entrepreneur, is back with a new company and a new electric SUV called the Fisker Ocean, which he says will be sold for less than $45,000 in Canada.

California-based Fisker Inc. unveiled the five-seat Ocean SUV last month at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The entry-level Fisker Ocean Sport will have front-wheel drive and 402 kilometres of driving range, as estimated on the EPA test. Higher-end models will have all-wheel drive and more than 560 km of range, according to the company.

Prices for Canada have yet to be set, but Mr. Fisker – co-founder and CEO of the company that bears his name – said in an interview that he is aware of the federal government’s iZEV incentive program, and its $45,000 price threshold. “We’ll probably try and get maybe our two first models under that, for sure the base model.

“We already have a ton of reservations from Canada. Right after the U.S., it’s probably number two.”

But Canadians will have to wait a while for their cars.

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The EMotion, an expensive electric luxury sedan originally scheduled to arrive in 2019 or 2020, has been put on the back burner to focus on the Ocean SUV.Bill Hornstein/Supplied

Production of the Ocean is being outsourced to Magna-Steyr, a subsidiary of Canadian auto parts supplier Magna International, which will assemble the SUV at its plant in Austria beginning in November, 2022.

Sales should begin in the United States later that year, but Mr. Fisker says he expects the Canadian-market launch will probably take place around the middle of 2023.

This isn’t his first automotive startup. The initial one didn’t end well but he has confidence in this latest project.

After a career as a designer, creating now-classic sports cars including the Aston Martin DB9 and BMW Z8, he co-founded his own car company in 2007. That venture, Fisker Automotive – not to be confused with his current firm Fisker Inc. – raised more than US$1 billion from private investors and received nearly $200 million in loans from the U.S. Department of Energy. The company only delivered roughly 2,000 examples of the $100,000 Fisker Karma hybrid sedan before filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2013.

“Our first battery supplier went bankrupt and then we were done,” Mr. Fisker says of his earlier venture. He learned two lessons from that failure: one was to have reliable suppliers and the other was to make sure you have enough money to get to production.

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Henrik Fisker is the founder, chairman and CEO of Fisker Inc., an American automaker based in California.Supplied

His new company has more than $1 billion to work with, which is more than enough to bridge the Ocean SUV to production, he says. Much of that cash was raised last year when Fisker Inc. went public in a SPAC reverse merger. As for the supplier issue, this time around the company signed a deal with CATL, one of the world’s biggest battery makers.

“I’m probably the only person in the world who has started a car company before and is doing it again,” Mr. Fisker says. “There are so many basic mistakes we don’t have to do again.”

Nevertheless, the new company has already abandoned some of its previously announced products. Efforts to build a self-driving shuttle bus have been dropped, Mr. Fisker confirms. The EMotion, an expensive electric luxury sedan originally scheduled to arrive in 2019 or 2020, has been put on the back burner to focus on the Ocean SUV. The company also dropped plans to create solid-state batteries, according to The Verge.

Mr. Fisker is sticking by his company’s ambitious commitment to have a lineup of four electric vehicles before 2025, a deadline that is fast approaching. Only the Ocean SUV and EMotion sedan have been revealed in anything close to production-ready form. By outsourcing manufacturing to the likes of Magna and Foxconn, thereby avoiding the worst of “production hell,” Mr. Fisker says he believes the goal is achievable.

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Inside, the Ocean SUV is lined with reclaimed materials that promote sustainability.Fisker Inc./Supplied

The Popemobile project also continues. Mr. Fisker says the company plans to build a modified version of the Ocean SUV for Pope Francis next year.

That means Canadians will likely have to wait longer than the Pope to get their own Fisker Ocean. Cars will be sold through company-owned showrooms, although the Canadian locations have yet to be finalized. Rather than build service centres, the company is outsourcing that work to third-party fleet-management firms, such as Cox Automotive, which will handle delivery and service.

If the Fisker Ocean does arrive in 2023 as promised, it will find itself competing head-to-head against a rapidly growing list of new mainstream EVs from the likes of Subaru, Toyota, Nissan, General Motors, Volkswagen, VinFast, Tesla and more. According to a recent forecast from DesRosiers Automotive Consultants, sales of compact electric SUVs are set to skyrocket next year.

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