Mar 14

Henrik Fisker quits

 

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 Henrik Fisker, 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 yesterday he’d just learned yesterday 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.

2012 Fisker Karma.
 

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.

Fisker US Team.
 

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 yesterday, 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.”

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 14th, 2013 at 5:55 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 33


  1. 1
    Future EV Driver

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (7:40 am)

    Not surprised with all the Karma troubles the company has been dealing with.

    Too bad, it had to end….


  2. 2
    Mark Z

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (8:32 am)

    Competition always gives us better products. It’s sad when a competitor has as many problems as Fisker experienced. Replaced batteries, cooling fan recall, losses due to flooding and the bankruptcy of A123 Systems was terrible news. The CU Test Drive was another horror.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fisker_Karma

    It’s future as a 100% gas powered vehicle could give new life to this design in the future.

    http://www.wired.com/autopia/2013/01/vlp-destino/

    At this point, I would suggest to Mr. Fisker to remember the lyrics of “The Roses of Success.” With that kind of attitude, we can look forward to wonderful new designs and exciting innovation from Henrik in the years ahead.

    http://www.allmusicals.com/lyrics/chittychittybangbang/therosesofsuccess.htm


  3. 3
    James

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (8:33 am)

    Henrik has left the building.

    Remember those slow deaths in old cowboy B movies? There used to be these
    two old theaters in the downtown area of the town where I grew up – and on
    Saturdays my buddies and I would go there for pocket change and watch
    lousey movies – especially those ’70s ones where 50 cop cars get destroyed
    in various and sundry ways ( “Wow! That one blowed up reeeeal good!”, etc. etc. ).
    Sometimes we’d get a rip-off of a true Spaghetti Western ( ! ) – but it was always
    good for those slow moments between gunfights where a guy’d be shot and then
    the corny Italian-electro music would swain while the guy writhed in pain for, like,
    five minutes before he finally croaked! ( What GREAT acting! ) – Fisker’s death throes
    are pulling on those same emotional strings as the old, bad flicks of yore. Or maybe
    one of those “worst car wreck” programs where they keep showing each wreck in
    slow motion from every concievable angle – then at every speed possible overrrrr
    and overrrr until you say, “ALRGIGHT ALREADY – THE THING BLODE UP, GET
    ON TO THE NEXT ONE! “…..

    So, in other words, it’s kind of agonizing watching Fisker blow up, one little
    detail at a time. Even if China comes to the rescue, a big-buck Chinese
    EVer that never really got the bugs out or the engineering right and used it’s
    buyers as guinea pigs?…. Ya think it’ll ever fly?

    Hope Tony P. is job searching!

    RECHARGE! ,

    James


  4. 4
    Roy_H

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (8:35 am)

    Fisker has had a string of unfortunate events. They had problems with batteries that had a mis-aligned weld, bearing failures in the transmission, software issues, mis-aligned body panels, and a fan motor that caused fires. All fixed now. However all these problems have tarnished Fisker’s reputation as they are mostly related to the rush to get the car to market instead of spending more time testing.

    I think they came to an agreement with the insurance company for the lost Karmas in hurricane Sandy. I suspect they only collected a fraction of the loss. Anyone know?

    So I can’t help thinking of parallels with Better Place where Shai Agassi is no longer in charge. Even Tesla lost its first CEO and founder Martin Eberhard.

    It will be interesting to see what company comes to Fisker’s rescue, but I think they have a better chance of survival than Better Place if they are bought out by an existing successful auto company. If they are bought out by a company with no auto experience, Toni will have a much harder time because he won’t have economies of scale for supplier parts that an existing company can offer.


  5. 5
    James

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (8:47 am)

    Better scoop up that Karma A.S.A.P. while there are still some
    out there. There is no doubt they’ll be future collectible classics -
    That beautiful oddball car that has the interesting story.

    DeLoreans don’t go for much, but they have a very interesting
    story also. Fiskers, unlike Deloreans, are very sexy looking,
    even though the quality really never was up to the asking
    price. While DeLoreans had flaws also, their powertrains
    weren’t near as interesting as the Karma nor did they perform
    as well ( when they weren’t bursting into flames ) – so I’d think it’s
    a safe bet a Karma would be worth a lot of coin 15-20 years
    from now.

    Perhaps, like DeLorean – somebody will buy all surplus body
    parts and internals from the bankrupt company and set up
    shop in Texas, selling them as retro rides?!!!

    At any rate, there’s also the possibility one of the Chinese
    companies being courted to buy Fisker will do so and change
    it’s name from Fisker to something else. In that case I hope
    it’s not one of those loopey Chinese names like Wanxaing,
    Chery or BFD……… I mean BYD! :)

    RECHARGE! ,

    James


  6. 6
    Tall Pete

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (8:53 am)

    You would have bet that the car guy – Henry Fisker – would have been more successful than the computer guy – Elon Musk – in starting a new car company. After all, he’s been in the business for a long time and is a great designer.

    But in computer science, you have to make it as perfect as you can, all the time. You have to test to find the bugs and make sure you deliver a flawless product (as much as possible) or else the competition will bury you fast. Seems like these traits are serving Tesla well.

    On top of that, Fisker experienced a few unfortunate events that were not under its control. Bad luck.

    Too bad the company is going chinese most probably.


  7. 7
    Jackson

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (9:39 am)

    Chines ownership = No Sale.

    Hey, c’mon. They already make everything else

    Full disclosure: I wasn’t going to buy a Fisker anyway.


  8. 8
    Jim I

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (10:12 am)

    Trying to start a new car company is a massive undertaking, and most of those that try do not make it.

    This is why I buy cars from companies that have the resources to design, test, and assemble them correctly and will most likely still be around to service them for a long time………………….

    Go GM Volt Team!!!

    C-5277


  9. 9
    Noel Park

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (11:34 am)

    Jim I:
    Trying to start a new car company is a massive undertaking, and most of those that try do not make it.

    This is why I buy cars from companies that have the resources to design, test, and assemble them correctly and will most likely still be around to service them for a long time………………….

    Go GM Volt Team!!!

    C-5277

    #8

    Right. That says it all. +1


  10. 10
    nasaman

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (11:45 am)

    What can I say? …Henrik, you’ve been cursed by bad Karma; Tony Posawatz, have GOOD Karma!*

    *Karma is defined as that which is seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad


  11. 11
    Steverino

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (12:08 pm)

    “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”

    Musical chairs. When the music stops, the one left standing gets to be CEO. “You be CEO.”, “No, YOU be CEO.”, “No, it’s YOUR turn to be CEO.”


  12. 12
    CaptJackSparrow

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (1:32 pm)

    The Cheshire Car (Karma) was over $100,000.00!
    Way beyond the price for the masses.

    Then Nina or whatever it was called was to be $55,000.00!
    Much less but still out of range for the masses.

    /niche cars!


  13. 13
    CaptJackSparrow

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (1:33 pm)

    Steverino: Musical chairs. When the music stops, the one left standing gets to be CEO. “You be CEO.”, “No, YOU be CEO.”, “No, it’s YOUR turn to be CEO.”

    The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round……round and round.


  14. 14
    Jim I

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (1:50 pm)

    CaptJackSparrow: The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round……round and round.

    OK, I’ll play:

    The Big CEOs get hired then fired, hired then fired….. ….. hired then fired.

    :)

    C-5277


  15. 15
    Texas

     

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (2:05 pm)

    Shai Agassi and now Henrik Fisker.

    The fracking era has arrived and the world will be awash with unlimited amounts of ever growing energy production. /sarcasm off.


  16. 16
    kdawg

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (2:15 pm)

    I would like to know if starting his own car company was a net-positive or net-negative for Fisker’s personal bank account.

    Oh, and it’s good to be back in the U S of A (just waiting for my body to catch up).


  17. 17
    Loboc

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (2:30 pm)

    Dang. I thought he’d go down with his ship (family name company). Be difficult to sell a ‘Fisker’ when it’s no longer Fisker-controlled.

    They’ll probably liquidate or be bought out. I doubt that the Karma will survive. Too bad. It’s a good effort.

    /I still don’t ‘get’ the diamond-shaped thingers.


  18. 18
    George S. Bower

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (2:51 pm)

    I just never could get turned on by the Karma. I mean I love almost all EV’s: Tesla S, even the Leaf (almost bought one)…..but not that Karma. It had terrible kwh/mile, MPGe, way too heavy, not that fast and really expensive.


  19. 19
    CaptJackSparrow

     

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (3:53 pm)

    @George S. Bower #18

    +1!!!!


  20. 20
    CaptJackSparrow

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (3:54 pm)

    So I saw 2 Tesla Model S’s today on the freeway. Both new without plates.
    Nice looking cars!

    /wish I got paid more….lol


  21. 21
    Noel Park

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (4:19 pm)

    kdawg: I would like to know if starting his own car company was a net-positive or net-negative for Fisker’s personal bank account.

    #16

    Yeah, but the Cayman Islands banks aren’t talking, LOL. Welcome back. I hope that your trip was a big success.


  22. 22
    Noel Park

     

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (4:20 pm)

    Loboc: /I still don’t ‘get’ the diamond-shaped thingers.

    #17

    Yeah, really. What were they thinking, LOL. +1


  23. 23
    Streetlight

     

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (4:22 pm)

    Fisker is not Tucker, not DeLorean and certainly not a Yugo. First off, they’ve raised over a $bil from some very high profile investors. My experience is if the company’s worth a rats tail; it’ll be able to raise another $bil–if and only if– management gets its act together.

    So there. That Chinese company is dancing on the table right now with Henrik out of the way. Before we commiserate, there’s a threshold question: Why is production suspended? What will it take to get things back under way. If those questions deal with bucks ..fine. But if those questions deal with management .. the Chinese win.

    Did the board discourage Henrik with intent? If they did, and I’m suspicious that’s the case, then they threw the pilot out of the plane. How are they going to deal with its standing inventory? One way is to simply cut the price down to by half.

    Are the quality issues settled? If so, my way is to get production under way no matter what. Otherwise, these managers are all running time and big fat salaries.

    Elon had to pony up $1 mil in atty fees after losing its case against Henrik. But that’s not any reason not to be talking to Tesla. That factory (Fremont, Cal) is ready to go in operation and there’s tons of room for Fisker.


  24. 24
    George S. Bower

     

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (5:11 pm)

    Noel Park: #16

    .Welcome back kdawg.I hope that your trip was a big success.

    I second the motion. Nothing like being back in the good old US of A.

    Just got back from Death Valley. I had never been there before Really a remarkable place. Although you have to be a bit of a desert rat to appreciate it.

    View from “Dantes View”

    CAM000401_zps05962f60.jpg


  25. 25
    CaptJackSparrow

     

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (5:47 pm)

    George S. Bower: View from “Dantes View”

    Wait, is that “Area 51″ I see waaaaaay out there?!?!?!?!?


  26. 26
    nasaman

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (6:37 pm)

    CaptJackSparrow: Wait, is that “Area 51″ I see waaaaaay out there?!?!?!?!?

    Cap’n, it’s Top Secret, but I can assure you that Area 51 is being dismantled/transported to Mars.


  27. 27
    scottf200

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (6:38 pm)

    I had a deposit on the Fisker Atlantic and got it when Tony Posawatz came aboard. I liked the car and the underdog (Volt was too!) but I wouldn’t buy it if it came from a Chinese owner. I put my deposit on a Tesla Model X instead which will let me get rid of the SUV as well. I can go to a LOT of places in Chicagoland with a Tesla Model X 85 kWh range.


  28. 28
    George S. Bower

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (6:48 pm)

    Go Scottf200!!


  29. 29
    Bonaire

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (7:57 pm)

    scottf200:
    I had a deposit on the Fisker Atlantic and got it when Tony Posawatz came aboard.I liked the car and the underdog (Volt was too!) but I wouldn’t buy it if it came from a Chinese owner.I put my deposit on a Tesla Model X instead which will let me get rid of the SUV as well.I can go to a LOT of places in Chicagoland with a Tesla Model X 85 kWh range.

    For me, I was “pulling for” Fisker earlier on. Mainly because they were going to re-open a nearby Pontiac plant to build the Atlantic and I wanted to support my local community when that model came out. When it was dawdling and not going anywhere, I ended up going after a Volt through a long-planned purchase (got GM Card, earnings, etc…) Still waiting on the Atlantic – that would have been a nice car. Glad I bought the Volt. It’s 135% better than the Karma.


  30. 30
    George S. Bower

     

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (9:33 pm)

    CaptJackSparrow: Wait, is that “Area 51″ I see waaaaaay out there?!?!?!?!?

    Yes and we kicked some serious butt from that place. The Ruuuskies didn’t have a missile fast enough to catch our SR 71!!


  31. 31
    George S. Bower

     

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (9:36 pm)

    Any one remember the Cuban Missile Crisis!


  32. 32
    I Love Chevy

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    Mar 14th, 2013 (11:02 pm)

    GM stop production of Chevy Volt in April!


  33. 33
    Bid Tracking Software

     

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    Apr 10th, 2013 (12:00 am)

    I discovered your web site through research engine several moment ago, and luckily, that is the only facts I was seeking the last hours