Nissan, Fisker in advanced talks on investment, partnership, report says

Nissan, Fisker in advanced talks on investment, partnership, report says

Automotive News Europe — 2024-03-01

Automotive Industry

Terms being discussed include Nissan investing more than $400 m in Fisker's truck platform and building Fisker's planned Alaska pickup.

Nissan is in advanced talks to invest in electric vehicle maker Fisker in a deal that could provide the Japanese automaker with access to an electric pickup while giving the struggling startup a financial lifeline, two people familiar with the negotiations told Reuters on Friday 1 March 2024.

The deal could close in March 2024, said the sources, who asked not to be identified because the talks are ongoing and have not been finalized.

Terms being discussed include Nissan investing more than $400 m in Fisker's truck platform and building Fisker's planned Alaska pickup starting in 2026 at one of its US assembly plants, one of the sources said. Nissan would build its own electric pickup on the same platform, the source said. Nissan has US assembly plants in Mississippi and Tennessee.

Fisker said on 29 February 2024, when it announced it might not be able to continue as a going concern and would cut 15% of its workforce, that it was in talks with an unnamed "large automaker" for a potential investment and joint development partnership.

A Fisker spokesman said the company does not comment on speculation, while Nissan officials were not immediately available to comment.

The term sheet is ready and the deal is going through due diligence, one of the sources said.

Nissan was an EV pioneer with its full-electric Leaf hatchback in 2010 but has since struggled in the face of nimbler new entrants. A deal with Fisker would help it move into the growing US electric pickup market.

Nissan's talks with Fisker come in the wake of the former's “rebalanced” relationship with its longtime alliance partner Renault.

In 2023, Nissan and Renault finalized terms of a restructured alliance after months of negotiations. They aim to have cross-shareholdings of 15% as part of the deal.

The more limited alliance removes certain restrictions and has opened the door for Nissan to develop growth plans in areas such as EVs and software independent of Renault, said one of the sources, who is familiar with Nissan's thinking.

The Yokohama-headquartered automaker is scouring “many, many opportunities,” the person said.

For Fisker, the deal might be the lifeline it needs to survive at a time when aggressive price cuts globally by EV leaders Tesla and China's BYD are pressuring the industry, especially for startups like Fisker.

Fisker has struggled to sell its flagship Ocean electric crossover after high interest rates led to a slowdown in demand. It said current financial resources were "insufficient" to cover the next 12 months and without additional financing it might be forced to cut production, decrease investments, scale back operations and slash more jobs.

The Ocean is built by Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria, the contract manufacturing unit of Canada's Magna International.

Fisker also said Thursday, 29 February 2024, it was in talks with a debt holder about a potential investment. Fisker said it aims to deliver between 20,000 and 22,000 Ocean vehicles in 2024.

Fisker CEO Henrik Fisker previously told Reuters that the company was in talks with five automakers about a partnership to secure additional production capacity for its vehicles. On Thursday, 29 February 2024, he said talks had narrowed to one automaker and a deal would include joint development of one or more EV platforms, and North America manufacturing.

Fisker unveiled the Alaska pickup last year with a price tag of just over $45,000 and said it was slated for production early 2025. The Alaska platform is an extended version of the Ocean one. It and any related vehicle from Nissan would compete in a segment that includes the Ford F-150 Lightning, GM's Chevrolet Silverado electric truck, Rivian's EV and Tesla's Cybertruck.

Henrik Fisker, however, said Thursday, 29 February 2024, the startup would not spend money on additional projects until a strategic partnership was in place.

Fisker shares were off more than 43% earlier on Friday, 1 March 2024, but the shares began to rise after the Reuters report about Nissan emerged.