Ex-BMW and Ferrari Designer Critiques the Fisker Ronin, Friendly Fire Is On

It's not often that we get to see car designers publicly talking about their peers' works. Frank Stephenson, however, is known for being curious about what others are doing and eager to share his thoughts with gearheads, investors, customers, and fellow professionals. Now, it's Fisker's turn to go under the spotlight.
Frank Stephenson on the Fisker Ronin 14 photos
Photo: Fisker / Frank Stephenson on YouTube / autoevolution edit
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If you're not up to speed with what reborn Fisker is doing, here's something that will freshen up your memory. The US-based automaker currently sells one vehicle – the all-electric Fisker Ocean crossover SUV, a rival for the likes of Tesla Model Y.

The unit is made in Austria by the same company that manufactures the iconic G-Wagen. Fisker learned its lesson from the Karma failure and chose a serious partner that can deliver the brand's mobility vision. That's why it collaborates with Magna Steyr and ships the vehicles from the Old Continent to the US and Canada.

Last month, the company announced (or confirmed) that it will add three new vehicles to its roster – the PEAR, the Alaska pickup truck, and the halo car Ronin. The PEAR and the Alaska are scheduled to be manufactured in the US. The brand said both vehicles would be eligible for the EV tax credit. But that'll only be possible if Foxconn – Fisker's contract manufacturing partner for North America – manages to reach a final agreement with bankrupt Lordstown, from which it bought a factory in Ohio.

The tri-motor halo EV Ronin is a very expensive experiment. It costs $394,000, but the brand can't guarantee it until 2025. Keep in mind that the sum does not include the sales tax, possible options, and fees. That means buyers will spend well over $400,000 for one. It's quite the bet!

But big ambitions attract attention. Car designer Frank Stephenson noticed fellow professional Henrik Fisker's efforts to revive the company and achieve his dream of selling cars that must not abide by traditional rules. Stephenson is well-known in the automotive world. He designed the Ferrari F430, the BMW X5, the Maserati MC12, the McLaren P1, MP4-12C, and 570S, and the Fiat 500. That's a portfolio that will impress nearly everyone.

However, Henrik Fisker is also a well-known designer. He was responsible for the BMW Z8, the Aston Martin DB9 and the V8 Vantage, and even spent some time at Tesla.

No beating around the bush

Both are imaginative thinkers. Both have left their mark on iconic vehicles. Both are still involved in the automotive industry. But while Stephenson is still only focusing on design, Fisker is actively working to expand his vision internationally, unrestricted by existing brand norms.

Fisker Ronin Super GT
Photo: Fisker
Still, Frank Stephenson says he knows Fisker's CEO and appreciates his courageous approach to creating attractive car shapes. But he argues that the swanky Ronin, at first glance, doesn't completely represent his peer. The man believes the four-door convertible lacks the wow factor. We respectfully disagree with this statement because the EV looks phenomenally attractive when the doors are open or the top is down.

But Stephenson doubles down and says the Ronin's front end looks like someone's sucking lemons. He also underlines that there's no dynamic stance, and the side profile lacks cohesiveness with the rest of the car, which makes it look like it was randomly put together. He also states that the overall impression he's left with is that the car looks very heavy.

Stephenson also pointed out that the taillights are bland, the lettering on the trunk could've been more intricately put together, and the wheels, albeit nice, seem to be taken from another car and put on the Ronin like the person in charge didn't see the EV before giving it those rims.

Ultimately, the designer compares the Fisker Ronin to the Tower of Babylon. He says that there are many elements cramped together, but also goes further and adds that the exterior look doesn't breathe innovation, and people might not get their money's worth because the EV doesn't look sensational.

We can't help but wonder – is he right? Share your take with us below.

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About the author: Florin Amariei
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Car shows on TV and his father's Fiat Tempra may have been Florin's early influences, but nowadays he favors different things, like the power of an F-150 Raptor. He'll never be able to ignore the shape of a Ferrari though, especially a yellow one.
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