Fisker resparks Tesla rivalry with plans for new 'budget' EV
Fisker is on the comeback trail with Tesla Model 3 in its sights
Fisker, the electric car brand which was an early rival to Tesla, announced on Monday that it would produce a new sport utility vehicle priced below $40,000 (roughly R580,000) that will be available next year.
The move could relaunch the brand, which attracted celebrity buyers before its 2013 bankruptcy.
The brand, led by former BMW designer Henrik Fisker, underwent a lengthy restructuring and its latest move suggests it is out to revive its challenge to Tesla in the market for mass-market electric vehicles.
Fisker, which made its announcement in a press release with images of the new vehicle, said a driveable prototype would be available later this year.
Like Tesla, Fisker will sell directly to consumers, without dealers.
The company said it is "currently finalising the selection of a facility, located in the United States, to produce the all-electric SUV."
The relaunch comes after a high-profile bankruptcy by Fisker Automotive, which received $192m (roughly R2.75m) in US government loans and left $139m (roughly R2bn) of that unpaid.
The $100,000 (roughly R1.5m) Fisker Karma released in 2012 attracted buyers including Justin Bieber, Leonardo DiCaprio and Ashton Kutcher.
But the company filed for bankruptcy in 2013 and a year later its assets were sold to Chinese auto parts maker Wanxiang.
The new car, with an expected range of some 500km between charges, comes from a new corporate entity called Fisker Inc.
A year ago, Henrik Fisker unveiled plans for a $129,000 (roughly R1.9m) electric luxury car, but the group said that vehicle launch will be pushed back until after the lower-priced SUV.
The company projects to eventually have three different vehicles.
"Our team set out on a mission to create an affordable EV that's more exciting and emotion-stirring than what the market has been offering," Henrik Fisker said in the statement.
"We're now excited to be introducing a vehicle that truly reinvents the SUV."
Fisker is among several startups in the US and elsewhere moving into the electric vehicle market, which is expected to see strong growth.
The move by Fisker comes as Tesla ramps up efforts for more affordable electric cars, including a Model 3 priced at $35,000 (roughly R500,000) and a Model Y SUV starting at $39,000 (roughly R560,000).