Former Chrysler boss LaSorda named CEO at Fisker
Tom LaSorda has 32 years in the auto business, rising through GM's manufacturing ranks before joining Chrysler as head of manufacturing in 2000.
LOS ANGELES -- Fisker Automotive, the electric vehicle maker struggling to find its next round of funding, has shaken up its top executive ranks and appointed veteran industry leader Tom LaSorda as its CEO.
LaSorda, 57, Chrysler's former CEO, had been named vice chairman of the automaker late last year.
Company co-founder and CEO Henrik Fisker will become executive chairman, the company said in a statement today.
"I will be taking a new role…building the brand and creating brand awareness, styling and design and future vision of the company," Fisker told journalists during a conference call.
Although it has launched its $103,000 Karma extended-range hybrid vehicle, the company recently missed milestones to collect its next round of funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Development of its lower-priced Project Nina has been placed on temporary hold.
However, LaSorda said that Fisker Automotive will be profitable in 2013 from Karma sales alone. Hopefully, that revelation will be enough to spur the next round of financing, either from the DOE or other sources, LaSorda said.
LaSorda also hinted at the possibility of forming an alliance with another automaker.
"If any auto company would call, we would be open to that," LaSorda said. "But we are not out in the marketplace pushing that."
Fisker has built -- through the Valmet Automotive assembly plant in Finland -- about 2,000 Karmas. About 840 have been delivered to U.S. and Canadian dealers. European dealers started receiving Karmas last week.
As for Project Nina, LaSorda said, “I really can’t say when production would start and what’s going on in Wilmington.” Late last year, Henrik Fisker said that prototype production at Wilmington would begin in the second half of 2012
Long history in the business
LaSorda has 32 years in the auto business, rising through General Motors manufacturing ranks before joining Chrysler as head of manufacturing in 2000. He became Chrysler COO in 2004 and served as CEO from 2005 to 2007.
In the conference call, LaSorda said he was “quite impressed by the passion here and the brand itself.”
He added that he is “personally invested in the company” to reflect the confidence he has in the automaker and the team.
“I never would have taken the job if I didn’t think the future of this company was bright,” LaSorda said. “Henrik didn’t have to twist my arm very hard.”
With the re-organization, Fisker chairman Ray Lane will assume a lead director role, as Henrik Fisker takes the Executive Chairman role. Lane is managing partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
"Ray has been an invaluable guide and help to us as we have grown this company and its financial strength over the past few years," Henrik Fisker said in the company statement. "For a company to raise over $860 million of private equity is a remarkable achievement, and Ray’s support and guidance has been a key factor in that."
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