Henrik Fisker, the founder and executive chairman of the California-based maker of the only pure series hybrid production car has left the company.
Citing “several major disagreements” with members of Fisker Automotive’s leadership team, company representatives said the talented designer who penned its entire existing and said-to-be pending product line has abandoned his aspirations with the start-up American green car company.
Fisker Automotive has had a long string of setbacks as it attempted to globally proliferate its one car to be produced thus far, the Karma.
Its present CEO, Tony Posawatz told Automotive News today he’d just learned today of Henrik Fisker’s decision, and said the company is in the midst of serious negotiations without elaborating.
The company has been seeking capital since losing its Energy Department loan a year ago, and is believed to be discussing sale of itself to Chinese investors.
Henrik Fisker, 49, had high hopes as the designer of several prominent cars, including those for Aston Martin, BMW, and Ford.
But things were not looking as positive when he stepped down as CEO in February 2012, ceding the position to former Chrysler Corp. CEO, Tom LaSorda. In turn, LaSorda stepped down in August 2012 and gave the top spot to former Chevy Volt vehicle line chief, Tony Posawatz, who’d just retired early from General Motors.
Whether deserved or not, the Fisker Automotive saga at times has looked like a proverbial case of “dog pile on the rabbit” of Warner Brothers cartoon fame in which the hapless rabbit – represented by Fisker Automotive – is jumped on by every dog in town.
Of course Fisker’s critics cited reasons, and said they were fully justified in pointing out foibles or inequities perceived. And another key difference in the loose analogy is Fisker has not shown itself yet to fully come out on top.
Knowing it is being watched closely, with its end being predicted by some, it has been playing a defensive posture, while attempting to show many of the issues were either out of its control, not entirely its fault, or less severe than perceived.
In many instances, Fisker did have a case. But regardless, Fisker has not been the winner of any informally perceived popularity contest as Tesla has in proffering its also now high-five and six-figure ideas for an electrified automotive future.
But Fisker has scrambled as best it could. Following one of a couple Karma recalls, the company was rapidly retrofitting entire new battery assemblies in customer Karmas to fix a potentially faulty hose clamp just to get them back on the road and do PR damage control.
It was also the subject of a faux expose by a major news outlet alleging the company took taxpayer money then, it was implied, but not proven, ungratefully and deceptively filtered U.S. money given in good faith to a foreign contractor, Valmet, which does assemble its Karmas.
Actually, this arrangement was fully disclosed to the Energy Department when negotiations were first made for a $528 million low interest loan.
This loan was nonetheless shut off last year, and the loss of funds was a serious blow to Fisker, and delayed it from its intention to produce its $55,000 Atlantic in Delaware.
During the presidential debates, Fisker was singled out as a “loser” by Republican hopefuls, and beyond that, many a political pundit’s screed can be found online lambasting the company as a waste, a boondoggle, a misbegotten venture.
More recently, its battery supplier, A123 Systems was sold, and it may be these same buyers or associates of them who are seeking to purchase Fisker Automotive now.
In short, being a designer for established companies proved more successful for Henrik Fisker than heading his own company.
Further details as to the specific nature of the “major disagreements” were not specified by company officials.
In a statement issued today, the company thanked Henrik Fisker “for his service and many contributions as Fisker Automotive has progressed from start-up to a fully-fledged global automotive company.”
And, it said, “Mr. Fisker’s departure is not expected to impact the company’s pursuit of strategic partnerships and financing to support Fisker Automotive’s continued progress as a pioneer of low-emission hybrid electric powertrain technology.”