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Former GM Volt chief joins Fisker as CEO

Fisker’s new charge: Former GM executive Tony Posawatz will be responsible for bringing Fisker’s new Atlantic sedan to market and helping the company become a global force.

Ex-Chevy Volt boss among new faces at Fisker as EV marque aims to be ‘global force’

24 Aug 2012

AMERICAN luxury plug-in hybrid marque Fisker Automotive has announced the appointment of former Chevrolet Volt chief Tony Posawatz as CEO, headlining a series of moves designed to help the Californian-based car-maker expand into global markets and become “a true global force”.

Mr Posawatz takes over from former Chrysler president Tom LaSorda, who had been in the role since February after joining Fisker as vice-chairman in December last year. He will continue to be available as a consultant.

“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,” said Mr LaSorda.

“He is a real product guy for a product-driven company.

“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.”

Mr Posawatz has more than 30 years’ experience at General Motors in roles spanning product development, strategy, program management, manufacturing and quality, and had worked as vehicle line director for the Volt since the program’s inception in 2006.

He was also a “key leader” of GM’s global electric vehicle development team before leaving the company last month, and had served as chairman of the Electric Drive Transportation Association.

 center imageFrom top: Henrik Fisker with the Atlantic prototype Tom LaSorda.

As GoAuto reported earlier this week, Fisker Automotive is currently recalling its Karma range-extender plug-in hybrid luxury car after at least one vehicle caught fire in the US.

This was blamed on a faulty cooling fan, although the cause of fire in a separate incident remains the subject of further investigation.

Among Mr Posawatz’s main roles will be establishing the Karma sedan in the US and other markets, and bringing the near-complete smaller Atlantic sports sedan and other new models and technology to market.

“Ultimately, Fisker Automotive is all about products that challenge the way that we think about cars for the next generation,” said company co-founder, executive chairman and design director Henrik Fisker.

“Tony’s expertise will guarantee that Fisker leads the way with its second-generation powertrain technology for the Atlantic and other future Fisker products.”

Assisting Mr Posawatz will be newly appointed executive vice-president and CEO of China and Asia Joseph Chao, and vice-president of manufacturing Alberto Gonzalez.

A former colleague of Mr LaSorda, Mr Chao has experience over more than three decades in engineering, manufacturing and international business operations with GM, Chrysler and DaimlerChrysler, including a stint as president and CEO of Beijing Benz Ltd in China.

He moves to Fisker Automotive from his most recent position as president and CEO of SG Automotive in China and will now “pave the way for Fisker’s entry into the Chinese market later in 2012”.

He will also lead the company’s expansion throughout Asia, including a potential Australian launch.

Mr Gonzalez, meanwhile, also brings more than 30 years of global automotive manufacturing and assembly experience from Chrysler, where he operated high-volume assembly plants in the US, Mexico and Canada.

“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,” said Mr Fisker.

“With Tony Posawatz as CEO, Jim Yost as CFO, Barny Koehler as co-founder and chief business development officer, Richard Beattie as chief commercial officer and Joe Chao as CEO of China and Asia, I believe we have an unbeatable team that can establish Fisker as a true global force.”

Mr LaSorda also has more than three decades’ experience in the car industry and worked for GM in top-level positions before moving to DaimlerChrysler as its manufacturing chief in 2000. He rose to Chrysler Group COO in 2004 and then CEO a year later.

He served in that position until August 2007, whereupon the split of Daimler and Chrysler and subsequent management reshuffle saw him relegated to president and vice-chairman as Bob Nardelli stepped in as chairman and CEO.

Mr LaSorda played a key role in the sale of Chrysler to the Fiat Group, leaving the company in April 2009 when it filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy.

He worked as an adviser for a number of companies and co-founded the venture capital fund Stage 2 Innovations before joining Fisker in 2011.

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