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Henrik Fisker resigns from Fisker Automotive

Stalled: Production of the Karma sedan has stalled since last August after battery problems with supplier A123 Systems.

Fisker Automotive management vows to push on with strategy as founder resigns

14 Mar 2013

FISKER Automotive co-founder and executive chairman Henrik Fisker has unexpectedly resigned from the plug-in hybrid car-maker, citing “several major disagreements” with company management over business strategy.

The cash-strapped Californian-based company, which is reportedly negotiating with two Chinese car giants for financial backing to build its second model, the Atlantic sports sedan, confirmed in a statement overnight that Mr Fisker had resigned and that his departure was not expected to impact its “pursuit of strategic partnerships and financing”.

“The company recognises and thanks Mr Fisker for his service and many contributions as Fisker Automotive has progressed from start-up to a fully-fledged global automotive company,” the statement said.

“The company has a strong and experienced management team and its strategy has not changed.

“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.”

Several overseas media outlets have reported that Mr Fisker announced his resignation in an email, which said: “The main reasons for his resignation are several major disagreements that Henrik Fisker has with the Fisker Automotive executive management on the business strategy.”

These disagreements have not been disclosed.

Mr Fisker is a former Aston Martin and BMW designer, who in 2005 established custom sportscar marque Fisker Coachbuild with ex-BMW and Ford executive Bernhard Koehler.

The pair established Fisker Automotive in 2007 as a specialist luxury eco-car marque, and a year later unveiled a concept of its first model, the Karma luxury plug-in hybrid sedan, which after a delay of around two years reached production late in 2011.

This delay led to US federal authorities last year preventing the company from drawing down more than half of the $US529 million in government loans it had been relying on. Since then, Fisker Automotive has been reportedly seeking about $150m in venture capital.

 center imageFrom top: Fisker Automotive co-founder Henrik Fisker and the Fisker Atlantic.

According to news agency Reuters, citing unnamed sources, Fisker Automotive is currently weighing bids from Volvo owner Zhejiang Geely and state-owned Dongfeng Motor to purchase a stake in the company and help bring the Atlantic to market.

As GoAuto has reported, the company immediately ran into problems with Karma when battery coolant was found to be leaking on vehicles built at the Valmet factory in Finland where the cars are made under contract.

Because of the risk of an electric short-circuit and fire in the battery pack, the first 239 Karmas were recalled.

Other problems arose for the company, including a recall of batteries made by A123 Systems, which has led to a shutdown of Karma production for the past eight months.

The company is hoping to resume production by midyear, working with A123’s new Chinese parent Wanxiang, which recently purchased it out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Fisker Automotive hired former Chevrolet Volt chief Tony Posawatz as chief executive last August as part of a comprehensive management restructure designed to help the company expand into global markets and become “a true global force”.

Mr Posawatz replaced former Chrysler president Tom LaSorda, who had taken over the role from Henrik Fisker just six months earlier.

On its Facebook page yesterday, Fisker Automotive also posted the following message: “While Henrik has resigned from the company his presence and influence is still very much a part of Fisker Automotive.

“The design of the Fisker Karma is a timeless one. As is the design of Surf, the Sunset, The Atlantic and there are others ... all speak with a language that is unique to Fisker Automotive.

“Henrik Fisker pioneered these designs and they continue to live within the walls of Fisker.

“Many other companies have seen their founders depart and in many cases return to influence or even lead their company in the future. The growth process of an entrepreneur and their projects are often enhanced from these changes.

“Right now Fisker Automotive has plenty going on and our team is solidly focused on operations at Fisker Automotive.”

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