Fisker Automotive Inc., a maker of luxury plug-in hybrid cars backed by U.S. government loans, hired the former head of General Motors Co.’s rechargeable Volt program as its new chief executive officer.
Tony Posawatz, 52, who was vehicle line director for the Chevrolet Volt from 2006 until this year, succeeds Tom LaSorda as CEO of Fisker, the Anaheim, California-based company said today on a conference call. Posawatz left GM in July.
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,” Henrik Fisker, co-founder of the startup carmaker, said today in an e-mailed statement.
Fisker is changing leadership as it works to improve its sales and finances and after losing access last year to a portion of a $529 million low-interest loan awarded by the U.S. Energy Department in 2009. The company said yesterday it’s also reviewing a fire involving a $103,000 Karma that occurred Aug. 10 in Woodside, California, the second such incident this year.
Fisker in February stopped work at a Wilmington, Delaware, factory where it planned to build a second car model after being cut off from the funds. The company said today it had no new developments to report related to that project.
Closely held Fisker has delivered about 1,900 Karmas, Henrik Fisker said today on the conference call. The company counts actor Leonardo DiCaprio as a customer and investor.
The Karma is able to travel as far as 50 miles (80 kilometers) on lithium-ion batteries before a gasoline engine is activated. The Chevrolet Volt, using similar technology, goes 38 miles per charge before the engine powers the vehicle.
“There’s not many companies developing electric vehicles with extended range,” Posawatz said on the call. “I happen to know a little bit about that area.”
Posawatz will work improve Fisker’s Karma business as well as bring the Atlantic, the company’s second model, to market smoothly, said Henrik Fisker, who also holds the title of executive chairman.
“Tony’s got more experience than anyone other than Henrik in the whole electrified space of range-extended vehicles,” said LaSorda, 58, who will remain an adviser to Fisker.
LaSorda previously was president of the predecessor of Chrysler Group LLC. He was Fisker’s CEO from Feb. 28 until today, succeeding Henrik Fisker. His departure from the CEO post makes Posawatz the third executive to hold the job this year.
LaSorda also worked at the former General Motors Corp. until 2000.