Fisker Automotive Swaps Execs; Ex-Chrysler CEO LaSorda Named Fisker CEO

Electric-car company Fisker Automotive today announced a shuffling of its executives. Company founder and former CEO Henrik Fisker will now be executive chairman of the company, while former vice chairman Tom LaSorda is appointed as the new CEO.

LaSorda has over three decades of experience in the automotive industry; he spent 23 years at General Motors and was CEO of Chrysler from 2005 to 2007. He joined Fisker Automotive as vice chairman in December 2011. LaSorda said in a conference call today that he was excited about his new role in Fisker.

"We have a great opportunity to grow this business and to make it very, very successful," he said. "I'm here to lead the team into that success."

HenrikFisker, who founded his eponymous company in 2007, previously designed cars for Aston Martin and BMW. In his new role, he will work on expanding the reach of the company's electric cars to the Middle East and China. He also will remain involved in the design and styling of future vehicles.

"We're really helping define what the electric car can be and where the future is going," Fisker said in a conference call. "It's been an amazing journey, and I now need to take a new role."

The first product from Fisker Automotive is the 2012 Karma, an extended-range electric luxury sedan. Among the people who have already purchased a Fisker Karma are celebrities Ashton Kutcher and Leonardo di Caprio, as well as politicians Al Gore and Colin Powell. The company revealed today that it has built about 2000 Karmas, and has delivered 840 of them to dealers and distributors in North America.

A pair of 150-kW electric motors powers the rear wheels, drawing energy from a 20-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Driving range on electricity alone is about 50 miles. After the battery is depleted, the Karma can switch on a turbocharged, 260-hp 2.0-liter inline-four engine (sourced from General Motors) that acts as a generator to allow another 250 miles of driving.

Though the Fisker Karma will be very powerful -- the company estimates a 0-to-60-mph run of 5.9 seconds -- it also will be a somewhat efficient vehicle. The EPA already has awarded the 2012 Karma a fuel-economy rating of 52 MPGe combined. The Karma is rated at 20 mpg when the gasoline engine is running – a bit of a sore topic among officials, but a consequence of the Karma’s hefty curb weight.

A second model was shown at last year's Frankfurt Motor Show, the Surf five-door shooting brake. Fisker claims the Surf is the most beautiful family car in the world, and officials announced it will go on sale by the end of 2012. It uses the exact same extended-range electric powertrain as the Karma sedan.

Fisker Automotive also has long talked about Project Nina, the company's plan for another generation of electric cars built in Delaware. Development of those vehicles has been on hold since May 2011 because Fisker hasn't secured the level of Department of Energy funding it desired. The company, however, said today that it expects to receive funding and resume development of Project Nina by this summer. Nina, unlike the current Karma range, will be manufactured within the United States at a facility in Baltimore, Maryland.

The company's press conference also revealed that Fisker Automotive has received over $50 million in commitments from private investors. The company claims it will turn a profit, based solely on sales of the Karma sedan, by 2013.

Source: Fisker

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