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Why Fisker Left Fisker: Would Have Been 'Wrong To Stay'

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Henrik Fisker

Henrik Fisker

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The news that Henrik Fisker had left Fisker Automotive came on Wednesday, leaving electric-car advocates and Fisker Karma fans wondering just what had happened.

Fisker himself cited "major disagreements" over the company's "business strategy."

A statement released within hours by Fisker Automotive thanked him for his work, but said his departure "is not expected to impact the Company's pursuit of strategic partnerships and financing."

Now, in an interview Friday with The Detroit News, Henrik Fisker has expanded very slightly on the circumstances behind his resignation as executive chairman.

The 49-year-old designer told reporter David Shepardson that it would have been "wrong to stay," citing "major disagreements with the current executive management."

Specifically, that would be current CEO Tony Posawatz, who was named to that position last August after a five-year tenure as a development executive for the Chevrolet Volt--the only other range-extended electric car beside the Karma to reach the market.

According to the newspaper, Fisker countered speculation that he was leaving because the company was about to be sold to a Chinese firm.

He said that the disagreement was about the company's future "business strategy," and "not specifically about the sale" of Fisker--which may be a foregone conclusion at this point.

Fisker told Shepardson he was proud of what he and the company had accomplished, calling the Fisker Automotive team's performance "fantastic" through a series of delays, setbacks, and misfortunes.

Among others, those included a scathing review by Consumer Reports of the Fisker Karma last September, at least two fires later attributed to a faulty cooling fan, and the destruction of 300-plus Karmas on a Newark dock during Superstorm Sandy.

He expressed regret that the Fisker team's many achievements--including designing and producing a car of which 2,000 or more were sold on four continents--had been overshadowed by those events and the negative media coverage they received.

Meanwhile, Fisker itself hasn't built a car since the summer of 2012, when its lithium-ion cell supplier A123 Systems declared bankruptcy.

Henrik Fisker launches 2013 Fisker Surf, Frankfurt Motor Show, September 2011

Henrik Fisker launches 2013 Fisker Surf, Frankfurt Motor Show, September 2011

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A123 was also purchased by a Chinese firm, and is awaiting approval of the sale agreement from bankruptcy court.

It remains unclear whether Fisker Automotive will ever make cars again.

CEO Posawatz had set a goal of the end of February--now two weeks past--to close a deal for further investment or sale of the company.

But whether it will be sold as a viable carmaker or simply for the intellectual property involved in its range-extended electric drive system is open to question.

Still, Henrik Fisker will continue to drive the range-extended electric car he designed.

Shepardson notes that Fisker's departure from the company that bears his name meant he had to turn in his company car--a Karma, naturally.

But following his resignation, the article says, he walked into a Fisker dealership in Santa Monica, California, and bought a brand-new blue 2012 Fisker Karma.

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  1. One way or another, founders get gently pushed away and the future of companies depend on the ratio of MBA and product passionate people working.

    In Fisker Automotive's case, either it would have been part of a greater alliance or other strategic group, or a PHEV/EV automobile consulting firm. Either way, at some point, founders get taken out of the picture, even Steve ;)
     
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