Henrik Fisker

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Nobody really saw this one coming. A year ago, Henrik Fisker was an admired auto-industry veteran, but with a failed startup behind him. Fisker Automotive’s 2013 bankruptcy sent Fisker back to his roots in design for a spell, but it didn’t discourage him from taking another crack at building a car company.

But Fisker Inc. was mainly concept vehicles and Henrik’s one-man marketing machine until mid-2020. Up to that point, much of the electric-vehicle narrative revolved around Tesla, with the traditional car industry’s frantic efforts to catch up to CEO Elon Musk forming the key subplot.

Driving to the story was a single, powerful, yet misunderstood word: disruption. Big Auto, from Detroit to the factories of Europe and the city of Toyota in Japan, was on the verge of being displaced by a bunch of agile newcomers collectively proclaiming the long-awaited arrival of the age of electrification.

Tesla had been at it the longest, more than a decade and a half, and Wall Street adored its prospects. By the end of 2020, the California-based company had become the most valuable automaker, by a wide margin, with a market capitalization that was closing in on $1 trillion.

Tesla isn’t really a disruptive innovator

Disruption? On its face, perhaps, but Tesla wasn’t really doing anything that was wildly different from what Ford and General Motors had for over a century: designing and engineering cars that were assembled in factories the carmakers owned and operated, and sold to the public. Tesla’s cars were powered exclusively by electricity, but at a basic level, they weren’t a massive departure from the automaking norm. They had four wheels, four doors, and Tesla had to spend at the predictably staggering levels of the global industry to produce them.

The bottom line was that Tesla had succeeded at replacing more than 100 years’ worth of deeply ingrained internal-combustion technology with electric drivetrains. Few had thought this was possible, even for a major car company with tens of billions of dollars in the bank. 

But it wasn’t disruptive, at least not according to the scholar who came up with the much-cited theory of “disruption innovation.”

“You could use a lot of characteristics to describe Tesla,” Clayton Christensen told me in 2018.

“They’re very creative. They understand jobs needing to be done. Their technology is very good. But we would not regard Tesla as disruptive. They’re trying to make good products better. Our model is …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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The true disrupter in the auto industry isn’t Tesla — it’s Fisker (TSLA, FSR)

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