Fisker replaces CEO LaSorda with former Volt boss Posawatz
Posawatz, 52, was the public face of the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid.
LOS ANGELES -- Fisker Automotive has replaced CEO Tom LaSorda with former Chevrolet Volt boss Tony Posawatz.
LaSorda, 58, a former chief executive of Chrysler, will step down effective immediately, though he will continue to be available to the maker of plug-in hybrids as an adviser, company executives said today in a conference call. LaSorda was named CEO on Feb. 28 after joining as vice chairman in December 2011.
Posawatz, 52, left General Motors last month. He had been vehicle line director for the Volt since 2006 and was the public face of Chevy's plug-in hybrid.
LaSorda has more than 32 years in the auto business, rising through GM's 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.
Posawatz's "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," Executive Chairman Henrik Fisker said in a statement.
Recruiting new CEO
Said LaSorda in the same release: "Tony is the perfect CEO for Fisker. He has been at the forefront of the industry's technological revolution and one of the few people in the world to bring an EV to mass production."
"Part of my assignment at Fisker was to recruit a long-term CEO and I cannot think of a better person than Tony to take us forward. He is a real product guy for a product driven company," LaSorda said in the statement.
LaSorda, during the conference call, said he contacted Posawatz three days after the former Volt boss retired from General Motors in early July.
LaSorda said it was "a lot of fun finding somebody that can look at the company and take it to the next level from where it is today in having product background that is untouchable and unmarked in the industry."
Fisker hopes to leverage Posawatz's experience with extended range electric vehicle powertrain technology he gained by leading the development and launch of the Chevrolet Volt. At Fisker, Posawatz's main task will be launching the second vehicle, the Atlantic, and its second-generation powertrain.
"Obviously, with Tony's product experience, we're setting a clear sign (that at) Fisker Automotive, it is about the entire product, but especially about our gen-two powertrain and all our future powertrains," Henrik Fisker said during the conference call. "We expect them to take a clear lead in the world."
Posawatz’s hiring comes after a series of mishaps that have raised safety and quality questions about the Fisker Karma sedan and its plug-in hybrid powertrain
On Friday, a Fisker Karma caught fire in a parking lot in Woodside, Calif. Fisker has since said evidence from its own investigation suggests the fire originated outside the engine compartment, and was not caused by the lithium ion battery pack, new technology components or the exhaust system.
A Karma was destroyed in early May after the vehicle caught fire while parked in a garage in Sugar Land, Texas. The cause of the fire, which occurred when the vehicle was unplugged, is still unknown, Fisker says.
Fisker also came under scrutiny when the battery pack of a Karma purchased by Consumer Reports died during testing in March.
Other executive moves
Along with the Posawatz announcement, Fisker said it had hired two new executives to oversee manufacturing and the company’s expansion into China, which Fisker plans to begin by the end of 2012.
Joseph Chao, a former executive with GM, Chrysler and DaimlerChrysler, was named CEO of China and Asia for Fisker. At DaimlerChrysler, Chao served as CEO of Beijing Benz Ltd., and was most recently CEO of SG Automotive, a Chinese car and bus-maker, Fisker said.
Fisker also said Alberto Gonzalez, a veteran Chrysler manufacturing executive, was named as Fisker’s new vice president of manufacturing.
"With these new appointments, we are sending a strong signal about Fisker Automotive and our future plans to develop the next generation of powertrain technology, bring more new Fisker products to market and expand our global sales footprint,” Henrik Fisker said in a statement.
For Fisker's full statement, click here.
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