Stranded at Sea: Fisker Owners Navigate Uncharted Waters After EV Maker's Bankruptcy

Owners band together as software-dependent EVs face an uncertain future.

Photo of a blue Fisker car.

As the sun set on Fisker's electric vehicle dreams, a new day dawned for thousands of Ocean owners left adrift in a sea of uncertainty. The June 18 announcement of Fisker's bankruptcy filing sent shockwaves through the EV community, leaving approximately 6,400 owners wondering about the future of their vehicles.

José De Bardi, a Fisker Ocean owner from the UK, found himself at the helm of a hastily formed lifeline - the Fisker Owners Association (FOA). "The bankruptcy lit a fire," De Bardi recounts, his voice betraying nights of lost sleep. "We had to get organized if we had any chance of representing owners' interests."

Within days, the FOA had rallied nearly a fifth of all Fisker owners, united by a common goal: keeping their cars on the road. But the challenges ahead are as steep as they are numerous.

The Ocean, Fisker's electric SUV, had barely begun its journey when it hit rough waters. Priced between $41,000 and $70,000, early models were plagued by build quality issues and software glitches. While software updates addressed some concerns, like unresponsive touchscreens and Bluetooth connectivity problems, other issues persisted.

Now, with Fisker's future in doubt, owners face a perfect storm of practical problems. Who will service these software-dependent vehicles? Where will spare parts come from? Will the cars even continue to function without ongoing software support?

Legal experts paint a grim picture. John A.E. Pottow, a bankruptcy law professor at the University of Michigan, warns, "If Fisker is bankrupt, they have no obligation to update their software." The company's limited assets may not attract another firm to take over servicing and repairs, leaving owners in a precarious position.

Justin Simard, an associate professor of law at Michigan State University, advises owners to secure comprehensive insurance. "You could get totaled out with a little fender bender," he cautions, hinting at a future where even minor repairs could render these cars economically unfeasible.

The broader EV industry watches with bated breath. Fisker's collapse is not an isolated incident, with other startups like Lordstown Motors, Arrival, and Volta Trucks facing similar fates. Each bankruptcy leaves a wake of stranded customers and unanswered questions about the long-term viability of new entrants in the automotive space.

Despite the stormy outlook, the FOA remains cautiously optimistic. De Bardi, juggling his role as the association's European leader with his day job as a telecommunications CTO, speaks of his black Ocean with a mixture of affection and determination. "It's now a fantastic car," he insists, acknowledging the vehicle's initial "quirks."

As Fisker's assets are divided in a Delaware courtroom, with creditors circling and inventory being sold off to fleet operators, the FOA continues its tireless work. They're mapping out solutions for everything from legal questions about vehicle financing to sourcing replacement parts.

The road ahead for Fisker owners is uncertain, filled with potential pitfalls of plummeting resale values and rising insurance rates. Yet, as De Bardi and his fellow owners band together, they're proving that sometimes the most important feature of a car isn't found under the hood, but in the community it creates.

In the end, the Fisker saga serves as a cautionary tale for the EV industry and early adopters alike. As these owners navigate their uncharted future, their journey will undoubtedly inform the next wave of electric vehicle enthusiasts. For now, they remain adrift, but not alone, held afloat by their shared determination to keep their Oceans on the road.