Henrik Fisker, executive chairman of the company that bears his name, resigned today.
"Effective as of Wednesday 13th March 2013, Henrik Fisker has resigned from Fisker Automotive as Executive Chairman, and has left the company," he said in an e-mail to the Detroit Free Press and other media outlets. "The main reasons for his resignation are several major disagreements that Henrik Fisker has with the Fisker Automotive executive management on the business strategy."
The company, based in Anaheim, Calif., has been negotiating with Chinese companies interested in acquisition or a large stake amid speculation everything could be moved to China.
"The company recognizes and thanks Mr. Fisker for his service and many contributions as Fisker Automotive has progressed from start-up to a fully fledged global automotive company," the automaker said in a statement.
"The company has a strong and experienced management team and its strategy has not changed. Mr. Fisker's departure is not expected to impact the Company's pursuit of strategic partnerships and financing to support Fisker Automotive's continued progress as a pioneer of low-emission hybrid electric powertrain technology," said the statement from spokesman Roger Ormisher.
Fisker makes plug-in luxury hybrids but has had a rough road since it was founded in 2007.
There was a series of at least three recalls of the Karma luxury sedan, a $100,000 plug-in hybrid made in Finland by contract assembler Valmet Automotive.
Karma production was halted altogether last year when battery supplier A123 filed for bankruptcy. A123 has sold most of its assets to a Chinese company.
Plans to build Fisker vehicles at a former General Motors plant in Wilmington, Del., despite a groundbreaking in 2009, never came to fruition.
Even Mother Nature exacted a toll when more than 300 Karmas awaiting delivery were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy last year and the insurance company denied coverage. A lawsuit and settlement followed.
The launch of a more affordable mid-size sedan, the Atlantic, also was delayed as the company has struggled to secure financing.
Fisker received $529 million from the Department of Energy to develop the Atlantic, but after the Karma's rough launch and slow sales, the DOE froze the $336 million in untapped loans.
Fisker has sold less than 2,000 Karmas worldwide.
The job of seeking more private funding fell to the automaker's third CEO in a year, Tony Posawatz who joined Fisker last summer from his previous job as head of the electric vehicle program at General Motors.
Last fall, Posawatz said Fisker had raised more than $1.2 billion in private equity since 2007.
Fisker is a designer who has left his mark at BMW as well as Aston Martin when he oversaw Ford's London design center. He created his own company in 2007. The Karma proved popular with celebrities.
"Henrik Fisker is a visionary," said David Kiley, auto analyst with AOL Auto. "But to bring a new car, and car company successfully to market in the 21st century, a company has to get 50,000 things right. Fisker has just done too many things wrong. The automotive business is incredibly capital intensive and requires deep corporate pockets to make it happen and when you struggle to pay the bills and keep the lights on, the descent is rapid."
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