Well, that didn’t take long. Weeks after retiring from General Motors, where he served as the vehicle line executive for the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, Tony Posawatz was officially named as the new CEO of Fisker Automotive this afternoon.
“We are delighted to be adding an executive of Tony’s caliber to our leadership team,” said Heinrik Fisker, executive chairman of Fisker Automotive, in a prepared statement. “His depth of knowledge and experience in this innovative field means he is one of the world’s most experienced leaders in vehicle electrification and the plug-in ecosystem.
In a conference call held earlier this afternoon, Fisker noted the firm is “entering our next business phase,” which entails brining the Fisker Atlantic – formerly known as Project Nina – and its second-generation driveline to market. “We really want to make a leap forward in the world with our Gen 2 powertrain,” Fisker said, “and Tony’s clearly the key to that goal.”
Posawatz spent nearly thirty years at General Motors, and was involved with the development of GM’s first production EV product, the EV1. He was brought on-board the Volt project in 2006, and helped shepherd the concept’s migration from conceptual show car to production vehicle as its vehicle line director. Posawatz also became one of the most public figures on the Volt’s development team, frequently speaking at length in an attempt to educate the public on exactly how the so-called Voltec powertrain actually performed.
The announcement is a little surprising, considering Posawatz told Automotive News in June he’d consider returning to the automotive field, but “decided to take some time to pause and assess the situation and see what opportunities exist.” He seems to have changed his mind: “Retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be,” Posawatz said during the call.
The move may trigger a retirement of sorts for Tom LaSorda. LaSorda, who served as Chrysler’s CEO from 2006 to 2007, first joined Fisker as its vice-chairman in December 2011. In February of 2012, LaSorda was named CEO of Fisker Automotive, replacing Fisker himself, who assumed the title of executive chairman. LaSorda insists finding his successor was “part of my responsibilities in building a world-class team,” and notes he will not retain a title position within the firm – but will always “be available as an advisor.”
Undoubtedly, Posawatz has his work cut out for him. Though he plans on “taking a period of time to get to know the company well” before weaving his vision into the company’s plans, he’ll likely need to hit the ground running. Not only is Fisker hoping to launch the Atlantic by the end of 2013 and expand into China (a move made possible by today’s appointment of former Chrysler exec Joe Chao as vice-president of Fisker China/Asia), but the company continues to fight against public perception of its vehicles – especially in light of a second Karma catching fire in California last week.
According to Fisker, preliminary examinations of that Karma sedan, performed by both company engineers and independent investigators, “supports the fact that the ignition source was not the lithium-ion battery pack, new technology components, or unique exhaust routing.” Fisker says the origin of the fire was “outside the engine compartment,” and that it will announce further details after a full report is completed.
Source: Fisker Automotive