Fisker Hires Former Chrysler Boss LaSorda, Company Says It’s Been a “Political Football” and Nina is On Hold
Fisker Automotive has just appointed former Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda as its chief executive and vice chairman of the board. LaSorda takes over the CEO spot from company namesake and co-founder Henrik Fisker, who will become the board’s executive chairman. LaSorda was the CEO at Chrysler from 2005 to 2007 and worked there as a high-level executive from 2007 to 2009. He was in charge at Chrysler during the final two years of its hostile merger with Daimler and was later a big proponent of the Chrysler-Fiat merger.
After the announcement, we participated in a Q&A session with Fisker and LaSorda. Here’s what we learned:
- Given LaSorda’s management history, it shouldn’t be a shock that he said Fisker is looking at strategic alliances with larger automakers. He didn’t elaborate on any companies specifically and when pressed said that Fisker is open to the idea but not actively seeking a partnership. We read this as a pretty good sign Fisker will wind up working with a big company down the road.
- Fisker has built 2000 Karmas so far, and 840 of them have been delivered to dealers. Many, but not all of those, are now with customers.
- Fisker’s more-affordable model, the Nina, is in a holding pattern. The car was to be designed and built in Delaware, with both of those functions dependent on Fisker getting another $336 million in loans from the U.S. Department of Energy. With that funding on indefinite hold (more on why below), Fisker is looking for more money from private investors. In the meantime, LaSorda says, Nina is still going in “virtual engineering.”
- “It’s an election year and we’ve been a political football,” Henrik Fisker said when asked why the DOE loans had been frozen. The entire program, which would loan money to renewable-energy businesses in the U.S., has been paused while predominantly Republican members of Congress call for very tight oversight.