Fisker Ocean faces fourth federal safety probe

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened a fourth investigation into the Fisker Ocean SUV, this time to probe multiple claims of "inadvertent Automatic Emergency Braking."

The agency's Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) said it has received eight complaints about these braking incidents, three of which have reported injuries. The ODI has already opened investigations into the car for complaints about braking loss, vehicle rollaway and doors that won't open. There have been no recalls issued for the SUV.

The NHTSA said the complaints allege that owners experienced sudden activation of the Automatic Emergency Braking system in moments where there were no other vehicles or obstructions in the path of their cars. "The braking applications range from momentary, partial application resulting in rapid loss of speed to full application, which brings the vehicle to a complete stop in the travel lane," the agency wrote.

The Ocean SUV is Fisker's debut electric vehicle, and it has been a source of much trouble for the struggling startup. Owners began flagging instances of sudden power loss and problems with the SUV's brakes almost immediately after Fisker began shipping the Ocean last year, a TechCrunch investigation revealed in February. The company has also struggled to meet internal sales goals, and ultimately suspended production after selling fewer than 10,000 units.

Fisker is now on the brink of bankruptcy. It has hired a restructuring officer and is looking for ways to keep its business alive while lenders circle it. The company is also facing a number of lawsuits, including one from the engineering firm that helped it develop a planned low-cost EV and a pickup truck, and at least 30 lemon law complaints.

The Ocean has been on the road for far less time than the debut EVs of some of Fisker's rivals, like Rivian and Lucid, but owners have logged many more complaints to NHTSA about this car. At the time this story was published, NHTSA's database showed 135 complaints about the Ocean.

For comparison, Rivian has shipped more than 80,000 EVs since 2021, and the NHTSA has only received around 50 complaints. Lucid has delivered more than 12,000 Air sedans, and customers have logged 35 complaints.