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Our Fisker Ocean Needs a Software Update ASAP

The first month of owning our long-term Fisker Ocean has hardly been smooth sailing

2023 Fisker Ocean rear three-quarter
  • Our first month of owning a 2023 Fisker Ocean has been problematic to say the least.
  • Fisker will soon roll out a major software update for its Ocean SUV.
  • Called Ocean OS 2.0, the updated software will add some useful features and improve our ownership experience.

We've just concluded our first month of ownership with our long-term 2023 Fisker Ocean Extreme and the experience so far has been … well, let's just call it rough seas. Multiple members of our staff have reported a wide-ranging set of issues with the SUV, from the screens freezing and becoming unresponsive, to unexpected rollback on inclines, and poor performance from the safety systems in wet weather.

The good news is that help is on the way. Fisker recently announced that it will begin rolling out a very large software update dubbed "Ocean OS 2.0" this month. All we can say is this update can't come soon enough.

What's in the update?

We'll include the full list of changes at the bottom of this article, but here are the big highlights:

  • A revised torque split, changing the power distribution from 50:50 to 45:55 for dual-motor Oceans to make it feel more engaging in its Fun and Hyper drive modes
  • Automatic Vehicle Hold: This replaces the existing hill hold system (that doesn't work) and will hold the vehicle in place until the driver is ready to move the vehicle
  • An energy meter to see how much power the solar roof is adding
  • Trailer sway mitigation is added to the stability control
  • Key fob enhancements to improve performance
  • Ability to install over-the-air updates while charging
  • Reduction in state-of-charge loss while parked (vampiring)

The biggest quality-of-life improvements given our experience so far with the Ocean will be the automatic vehicle hold and the key fob enhancements. We've found that our Ocean refuses to stay put; even on the slightest of inclines it will immediately roll back once you take your foot off the brake. This seems to be in part because the vehicle won't creep forward when you lift off the brake at all. The vast majority of other vehicles (gas or electric) will at least hold the vehicle in place, or if a vehicle doesn't do that there is some forward force added. But the Ocean will immediately (and silently) start to roll backward.

Our key fob has also been the cause of a lot of headaches. It can take upward of 30 seconds to get the vehicle to wake up and unlock, and at a certain point you just give up and hold the fob to the driver's door handle to wake it up using the NFC chip. Once inside, key fob detection has also been spotty and you have to hold the key to another NFC detection zone below the steering wheel before the vehicle will go into gear. And we also had to replace the battery in our fob after about a month of ownership — not great.

2023 Fisker Ocean interior

Installing the update

Ocean OS 2.0 will be delivered in three parts, and we will get a prompt on the top left corner of the infotainment screen that will let us know the update is ready to be installed. This can't be done (as the above list would suggest) while the vehicle is charging, though it's unclear if that's something that will be resolved in the first of those three updates, potentially allowing us to be plugged in for the last two.

This is an important consideration because the installation times for these updates will be long. Fisker tells us that each update could take in the neighborhood of two hours to install, and for that period, the vehicle will be inoperable. So make sure the Ocean is parked somewhere safe and out of the way before starting each update.

Giving our Fisker a hard reset

We have become very familiar with the procedure of giving our Fisker's screens a complete reset, something that first happened when vehicle testing editor Reese Counts attempted to take our Ocean on a range test.

"I started this day with such big plans. I was going to perform our EV range test, driving from full until empty to see how far the Ocean can go on a single charge. As soon as I closed the door, I realized something was up. The Fisker wouldn't play any audio, despite my iPhone clearly being connected to the vehicle via Bluetooth, and the FM radio wouldn't work either. Non-functioning audio wasn't enough to keep me from performing range testing, so I hit the freeway, set the cruise control, and settled in.

"Everything was working fine, save for the audio, but I wanted some tunes. Disconnecting and reconnecting my phone didn't work, and neither did changing the volume or radio station. In addition to Bluetooth audio and FM radio, the Fisker has apps for Spotify and TuneIn internet radio built into the Ocean's infotainment system. I figured maybe one of them might work and I opened TuneIn (because it was the icon closer to the driver's seat) and let the program load. It brought me to a sign-in screen, but since I don't have an account I attempted to back out of the app and go to the main menu. Instead, the Ocean's main screen went completely white.

"The Fisker was driving fine, and there were no warnings in the driver's information display, but I had nothing from the big touchscreen. I found a spot to pull over, got out, locked it and walked away for about 10 minutes. The hope was that letting the Ocean sleep would reset something and I could get on my way. Nope. In fact, things were worse when I got back in. Now the screen was all black rather than all white, and the climate control system had stopped working, too.

"After a bit, I managed to get in contact with Fisker to troubleshoot the issue. Letting the vehicle go to sleep hadn't worked, so the next step was a hard reset for the infotainment system. It worked.

"The process was fairly simple: First park the car, then hold down two buttons on the steering wheel (the right-pointing arrow on the left hand spoke and the button on the right hand spoke that adjusts the drive modes) for about 20 seconds or so until the system resets. You'll know it's working when the driver display (with your range, speedometer, etc.) goes black, too. After a few more seconds, the Fisker logo popped up on the screen, the fans began blowing cold air, and the Ocean started playing music from my phone."

Reese had to abort the range test because he sat with the vehicle for over an hour trying to get this resolved, and in that time, it lost some charge. We plan to retest the Ocean in the near future.

I also ran into an issue where the Ocean's volume locked and wouldn't change via the volume switches on the center console or the steering wheel. After letting the vehicle sit overnight, I went back to it the next morning and it was still stuck, so I resorted to the hard reset method, which fixed the issue.

Other notable issues from our first month with the Ocean:

  • Poor performance of the safety aids in rain: Wet weather seems to cause forward-facing camera problems, so the automatic emergency braking and lane keeping systems constantly turn on and off, with loud chimes each time. This also seemed to be true when driving the Ocean toward the sun. (Yep.)
  • Other safety systems shut off at random intervals, including the blind-spot warning. The driver attention monitor also has a propensity to go off at random.
  • While driving in Earth mode, the rear motor is slow to kick on and does so abruptly, causing an acceleration delay.
  • Bluetooth connectivity issues: Phones frequently need to be unpaired and reconnected for them to work.

The good news is these are all issues that can be fixed in some measure by software updates, so we have high hopes that Ocean OS 2.0 will be able to at least course-correct our Fisker to calmer waters.

Edmunds' long-term 2023 Fisker Ocean

The full list of Ocean OS 2.0 updates

  • Revised front/rear torque split: In the Fisker Ocean’s dual-motor all-wheel-drive powertrain models (One, Extreme, and Ultra), the power distribution ratio between front and rear wheels is changed from 50:50 to 45:55. This update improves traction and handling performance, making the Ocean even more sporty and dynamic in both Fun and Hyper drive modes.
  • Automatic Vehicle Hold: Automatic Vehicle Hold (AVH) replaces the Ocean’s existing Hill Hold feature, increasing vehicle hold time to improve driver ease and comfort. AVH activates brakes when the vehicle is stationary, and only releases brakes when the driver presses the accelerator pedal to begin moving the vehicle. This improvement was driven by customer feedback: The existing Hill Hold was designed to maintain brake pressure for approximately 2 seconds, and AVH now maintains brake pressure until the driver is ready to move the vehicle.
  • SolarSky upgrade: On Extreme and One trims, a new SolarSky energy meter in the Charging/Energy menu on the central touchscreen shows how much solar charging is being delivered to the vehicle.
  • Trailer sway mitigation: This stability control system counters trailer sway, making towing safer and more relaxed.
  • Brake disc wiping: In wet weather, the braking system automatically and imperceptibly clears water from brake disc surfaces, to improve braking response.
  • Standby Time controls: Standby Time controls on the central touchscreen allow drivers to adjust the amount of time the infotainment system stays in standby mode, reducing battery usage and increasing vehicle range. Drivers may experience longer vehicle boot-up time when Standby Time is reduced, in order to benefit from this reduced power consumption.
  • Driver profiles: Multiple drivers can save their preferences, privacy, and comfort settings in their own user profiles, including climate control and audio settings.
  • Improved energy management and power retention
  • Reduction in state-of-charge loss while parked
  • Calibration changes in cabin heating and cooling to improve defogging
  • Improved heating/cooling performance in Earth mode
  • OTA updates are able to be installed while the vehicle is plugged in (note: charging pauses during software update).
  • Revised audio tuning for improved bass response on Extreme/One
  • Key fob performance enhancements, to improve response
  • Improved accuracy in trip metering
  • Improved accuracy in energy consumption metering

Edmunds says

Our Fisker Ocean has a long way to go to improve its usability, consistency of operation and driving experience. We're hopeful that this first big update will make life with our Ocean much smoother.