Fisker Appoints New CEO, Eliminates Battery/Engine Compartment as Causes for Fire
August 14, 2012 10:49 PM
Fisker's new CEO Tony Posawatz
Tony Posawatz is replacing Tom LaSorda after only six months as Fisker CEO
After only six months of service and a laundry list of troubles, Fisker Automotive's CEO has been booted from his position.
Tom LaSorda, who was named CEO of Fisker back in February 2012 when founder Henrik Fisker stepped down, is leaving the company, but will still be an adviser. He is being replaced by Tony Posawatz, who was the former head of
production for General Motors.
Posawatz has 30 years of experience at General Motors, and was a large part of bringing the Volt from concept to production.
"We are delighted to be adding an executive of Tony's caliber to the Fisker Automotive leadership team," said Fisker. "His depth of knowledge and experience in this innovative field of new technology means that he is one of the world's most experienced leaders in vehicle electrification technology and the plug-in ecosystem. In the long-term, he will ensure that Fisker is well positioned to maximize the potential of not only
the Karma sedan
, but also bring the Fisker Atlantic smoothly to market."
Just last week,
Fisker had its second incident where a Karma plug-in caught fire
while in the possession of a customer. The first occurred only four months sooner in a customer's garage in Houston, causing a house fire.
Last week's incident happened in a Woodside, California grocery store parking lot while the customer was inside shopping. When he came outside, his Karma was on fire and had to be put out by the Woodside Fire Department. There was considerable damage to the vehicle.
There are many speculations as to how the fire started, such as issues with
the lithium ion battery
(which the company had to recall in December 2011) and the "crowded" engine compartment/exhaust routing method.
Fisker recently confirmed that none of these rumors are true. The automaker has started investigating the cause of the Woodside fire, and while there is no set conclusion yet, it has ruled out those possible sources.
"The area of origin for the fire was determined to be outside the engine compartment," said Fisker in a statement. "There was no damage to the passenger compartment and there were no injuries.
"Continued investigative efforts will be primarily focused within the specific area of origin, located forward on the driver's side front tire. Further details will be announced after a full report is completed."
In addition to Karma-related issues, Fisker has had troubles with its Atlantic hybrid, which
may have to be built outside of the United States
because of its lack of access to government funds.
In April 2010, California-based Fisker Automotive received a total of $529 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for clean vehicles, but in May 2011, DOE froze its loans after
delivery of the Karma plug-in was delayed and ended up falling behind schedule. DOE said Fisker did not meet the milestones previously promised, and since then, Fisker has not been able to access the DOE loans.
The loans were also meant to revamp a closed General Motors plant in Wilmington, Delaware for Fisker auto production. So far, Fisker has drawn down $193 million from its loans, but there's a chance that the company may never see the rest of it.
In February 2012, Fisker was forced to
lay off 26 factory workers at the Delaware plant
In addition to the CEO shake-up, Fisker appointed Joe Chao to executive vice president and CEO of Fisker China and Asia. Also, Alberto Gonzalez was named vice president of Manufacturing.
"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)
Round Two: Fisker Karma Goes Up in Flames in California
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Fisker Loses Access to DOE Loan, Lays Off Delaware Factory Employees
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