It's probably not much fun being Tony Posawatz, the latest CEO of Fisker Automotive, these days.
Consider the list of challenges he faces:
- Fisker appears to have built only 2,000--perhaps 3,000--of its Karma range-extended electric luxury sedan, not the 15,000 it projected for its first year
- The company's recently-closed $100 million financing round appears to give the company a lower value than prior rounds
- Consumer Reports slammed the 2012 Fisker Karma, calling it "full of flaws" and deeming its touchscreen controls an "ergonomic disaster."
- The company had to recall all its Karmas to replace a defective fan that caused at least one fire in August, and possibly an earlier one in May as well
The ever-upbeat Posawatz, though, sees better times ahead for the startup automaker.
And, he said he is in discussions with "other strategic partners" as the company gets down to work on the design, engineering, testing, prototyping, and early production of the less expensive Atlantic mid-size sedan that will be its next product.
The Fisker Atlantic, unveiled in April at the New York Auto Show, will be built on a different platform than the Karma. It is roughly the same size, Posawatz said, as a BMW 5-Series, but will use the company's range-extended electric drive.
The company has targeted a price of $50,000 for the Atlantic sedan, before incentives, which is less than half the price of the larger Karma, which starts at $106,000.
Strategic partnerships for the Atlantic could cover any range of cooperation, from supply deals for engines, suspension systems, switchgear, and other pricey components to an outright platform deal, in which Fisker would use another maker's platform after adapting it to the company's own design and powertrain.
Posawatz declined to specify what companies he might be talking to. But, he said, "Fisker team has something that's very valuable" in its series-hybrid drive system.
New CEO Posawatz was formerly the product line executive for the Chevy Volt range-extended electric car program at General Motors.
Volt Line Director Tony Posawatz
The new Atlantic sedan is already largely designed, he said, and he expects to have drivable prototypes for testing during 2013.
Posawatz said Fisker would provide more details about the Atlantic, including a launch date, by the end of this year.
He acknowledged that there were "mishaps along the way," that the company had been "overly ambitious and aggressive"--though it is now "more disciplined"--and that its financial controls "weren't one of [its] strong parts."
But he took a typically upbeat view, saying that the reconstituted company was "well on our way" and that if Fisker could get the past and current "drama" behind it, that would "bode really well for our future."
He also said Fisker Automotive could consider an initial public offering (IPO), perhaps within the next two years, depending on how the stock of Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] performs during that time.
Posawatz spoke to an Automotive Press Association lunch presentation in Detroit on Monday.
The event was covered by The Detroit News, CBS MoneyWatch, and other outlets.