Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Car designer Henrik Fisker this week raised more than $1 billion for his namesake electric car company, but unlike other electric vehicle entrepreneurs attracting capital recently, making cars is not part of his plan.

Why it matters: In an industry ripe for reinvention, Fisker's aim is to become the Apple of the automotive world — a fabless manufacturer that designs and markets cool cars but farms out the production to others, avoiding the huge capital outlays and manufacturing pitfalls that have dogged Tesla for a decade.

Driving the news: On Monday, Fisker reached a deal to go public by merging with a special purpose acquisition company backed by Apollo Global Management. SPACs are an increasingly popular IPO alternative also used recently by Velodyne and Nikola to go public.

  • Proceeds from the transaction, which valued Fisker at $2.9 billion, will help bring its Fisker Ocean electric SUV to market by late 2022.

The big picture: We're on the cusp of a historic shift to electric, self-driving cars. But the burden of technology investments is overwhelming for many, requiring even the world's biggest auto giants to partner up on redundant development.

  • Meanwhile, well-funded newbies like Nikola, Rivian and Lucid Motors — none of whom have produced a single vehicle yet — are mirroring Tesla and spending heavily to set up their own factories.

What's happening: A car used to be defined by its engine. But in the electric vehicle era, batteries and electric motors will be mere commodities, predicts consulting firm KPMG.

  • Software-driven features, not hardware, will set cars apart in the future.
  • For Fisker, famous for designing sensuous cars like the Aston Martin Vantage and the BMW Z8, it represents a new business model.
  • "I forced myself to not think like a car guy for a moment," he told Axios.

The Ocean is billed as the world's most sustainable car — an affordable, premium, electric SUV with a solar roof, vegan and recycled materials throughout, and a battery range of 250 to 300 miles.

  • Its patented one-touch "California mode" lowers and slides nine glass windows and panels to open the entire cabin for an open-air feeling.
  • It'll be priced attractively, too, starting at $37,499 before federal tax credits, or $379 per month to lease.

The real innovation is Fisker's business model. Instead of developing its own electric powertrain or sinking money into a factory, Fisker is in talks with Volkswagen to use its modular EV platform and assemble Fisker vehicles at a VW plant in Europe.

  • Instead of dealerships, Fisker will sell cars online but have "brand experience centers" and pop-up locations in key markets in the U.S. and Europe.
  • Vehicle service will be outsourced, too, through Pivet, a unit of Cox Automotive.
  • The plan is for a full lineup of eight plug-in models by 2026.

What they're saying: Fisker's asset-light approach makes it easier for newcomers to break into the auto industry, said Kristin Dziczek, vice president at the Center for Automotive Research.

  • "Imagine if Tesla had done this. They have great design, but struggled mightily in manufacturing."

Flashback: In 2014, Fisker's first startup EV company, helped by a government clean-energy loan, went bankrupt, costing taxpayers $139 million.

The bottom line: With lessons learned from that failure, Fisker says he's plotting a less risky path this time around. But for all EV companies there's still loads of uncertainty about how the future will play out.

Go deeper

Oct 23, 2020 - Economy & Business

We're all guinea pigs for Tesla's latest self-driving tech

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tesla is beta-testing its latest self-driving technology with a small group of early adopters, a move that alarms experts and makes every road user — including other motorists, pedestrians and cyclists — unwitting subjects in its ongoing safety experiment.

Why it matters: Tesla hailed the limited rollout of its "full self-driving" beta software as a key milestone, but the warnings on the car's touchscreen underscore the risk in using its own customers — rather than trained safety drivers — to validate the technology.

Oct 23, 2020 - Economy & Business

What we're driving: Polestar 2 electric vehicle

Polestar 2 electric vehicle. Photo: Polestar

This week's car is from an electric vehicle brand you might not be familiar with: Polestar.

The big picture: Originally a Swedish racing brand, Polestar was acquired in 2015 by Volvo Cars, which put the Polestar label on its high-performance models —similar to Mercedes’ AMG hot rod label.

11 mins ago - World

Scoop: U.S. and Israel held secret talks on Iran "plan B"

Bennett and Biden. Photo: Sarahbeth Maney/Pool/Getty Images

The U.S. and Israel held secret talks on Iran last week to discuss a possible “plan B” if nuclear talks are not resumed, two senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: This is the first time a top-secret U.S.-Israel strategic working group on Iran has convened since the new Israeli government took office in June.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!