UPDATE: Henrik Fisker has since said the electric car will be fully autonomous once the technology is developed by a supplier he’s working with that he declined to name as of October 24.
Renowned car designer Henrik Fisker is building a Tesla rival, but has no plans to develop self-driving tech for it.
Fisker recently told Business Insider that he is patenting new battery tech that will allow his electric car to drive more than 400 miles on a single charge. The luxury electric car will be revealed in the latter half of 2017 and will most likely be built at VLF Automotive, the Detroit-based car company Fisker joined in January.
Fisker said his biggest competitor in the space will be Tesla.
“I think it’s pretty clear when you look at the market, when you look at the premium market, there’s really only one company that is out there,” he said, “and it’s Tesla.”
Fisker’s electric car plans aren’t a complete shock as he told Business Insider in July that he was looking to re-enter the space. But at the time, Fisker also said he was interested in designing a car that incorporated self-driving tech.
“I just generally think the technology is enabling new ventures to take a new shot of what a car is,” Fisker said in the July interview. “I’m definitely thinking about it.”
But in an October interview with Business Insider, Fisker said he wasn’t interested in developing driverless tech for the electric car.
“I probably have a very controversial view on autonomous driving versus anybody else in the auto industry,” he said. “I don’t believe that it makes any sense for an automaker to develop autonomous driving.”
He added that suppliers, instead of independent car companies, should be the ones developing and integrating driverless tech in cars going forward.
“The implementation of autonomous driving needs a whole new rethinking,” he said. “To really make it an attribute for society, we really need to think differently about where and when and how we implement this.”
Fisker said that the first autonomous cars should only drive between midnight and 3am when the streets aren’t as populated. But that would be a tricky introduction for the cars, considering self-driving cars have trouble driving at night.
Fisker said he does believe driverless tech will change the car industry as a whole. He said people may feel more inclined to use self-driving, ride-sharing services like Uber in the future, leading to the decline of personal car ownership.
But as for his personal car plans, Fisker isn’t getting involved in driverless tech.
Fisker is currently producing his $270,000 luxury supercar, the Force 1, through VLF Automotive. He is also working on developing the battery tech for his first electric car that he said will be in the price range of a higher end Model S. For reference, Tesla’s new battery option for the Model S, the 100D, with Ludicrous mode starts at $134,500 before tax incentives.
Fisker said he later plans to produce a consumer-friendly electric car that costs less than the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3. That would price it at less than $35,000.
Fisker was involved in the initial design phase of the Tesla Model S, later breaking off to create the Fisker Karma — a $100,000 luxury hybrid sedan. When Fisker left to design the Karma, Tesla filed a suit alleging he copied some of Tesla’s technological innovations for the Karma.
An arbitrator eventually ruled in favour of Fisker. The Karma had a host of battery issues that caused the automaker and its battery supplier, A123 Systems, to recall more than 600 of the cars, Wired reported at the time.
Fisker’s company behind the Karma, Fisker Automotive, went bankrupt in 2011.
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