Exclusive: Fisker Plans Entry Level Car To Take On Chevrolet Volt. General Motors

1 year ago by Jay Cole 10

A Third Fisker Platform Looks To Be On Its Way

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” – Charles Caleb Colton, 1820

InsideEVs has learned that Fisker, in a presentation to investors earlier this year, has said it has plans for a third entry level offering.   A model which would take on General Motors.

This third car would be still be an EVer, which is Fisker’s own terminology for an extended range hybrid, and would be off an all new platform, internally called the “P Platform”.

The Fisker Atlantic And A Covered Friend

Where Fisker sees the Karma competing against the high end offerings of BMW, Mercedes and Audi (think 7 series, A8), and the Atlantic taking on the mid-grade versions of the same manufacturers (think 3 series, 5 series, C & E Class, A6, etc), this new P-platform car was demonstrated by Fisker to specifically be pitted against General Motors in the “entry level premium segment”.

Here is where this car, and the recent executive management history of Fisker, gets interesting.  This new P platform would “potentially” come with a strategic partner according to Fisker.

Looking back over the last 12 months, a lot of moves by Fisker seem to make more sense when put in reference to them finding/looking for a potential partner on a third, much wider audience offering:

  • December of 2011 – Tom LaSorda, former CEO of Chrysler joined Fisker as Vice Chairman of the Board and executive advisor to the management team
  • February 2012 – Mr. LaSorda, whose official duties at Chrysler included “global business development and alliances,” and whose job it was to find a buyer for Chrysler (and who eventually found Fiat),   upon starting his new job stated in a Fisker press release, “As part of our future strategy, we will be seeking strong partnerships and alliances as Fisker continues to grow as a brand.”
  • August 2012 -  Six months after Mr. LaSorda takes over as CEO, Tony Posawatz, the former head of the Volt program at General Motors is installed as CEO.   A person with no experience leading a major auto manufacturer, but with intimate knowledge of GM’s current, and future Voltec programs takes over.  Mr. LaSorda’s exit is a amicable one, and he is retained by the company as an advisor, or mentor for Mr. Posawatz if you will.  (Fisker press release)
    • Said Henrik Fisker on his new CEO: “Tony’s expertise will guarantee that Fisker leads the way with its second-generation powertrain technology for the Atlantic and other future Fisker products….With these new appointments (Mr. Posawatz-CEO, Joeseph Chao-Asia expansion, Alberto Gonzalez-Marketing), we are sending a strong signal about Fisker Automotive and our future plans to develop the next generation of powertrain technology, bring more new Fisker products to market and expand our global sales footprint.”
  • October 2012 – Tony Posawatz in talking to reporters says that discussions with “strategic partners” have taken place.

The Fisker Sunset Has Been Put On Hiatus As Fisker Works To Get The Atlantic To Market

Because it amuses us, lets put on our “hrm, that would make a lot of sense hat”  and do some speculating about what a Fisker strategic partnership could look like:

Looking at all the automakers out there that have been left without a dance partner at the electric vehicle party , none is more obvious than Chrysler-Fiat.

Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne,  who is famous for being one of the biggest doubters of electric technology (“the economics of electric vehicles simply don’t work”), and who was also at the helm when Chrysler’s ENVI electric car program was shutdown, now finds his company flat footed on EVs when every other player has at least hedged their bets in some way.   Chrysler/Fiat have nothing of significance in the pipeline for plug-in cars (at least that we can tell), or answers to future efficiency requirement standards in the US.

Former Fisker And Chrysler Group CEO, Tom LaSorda

Enter former Chrysler CEO, Tom LaSorda, who is newly installed as Fisker CEO to seek out “new partnerships and alliances,” who successfully had put Chrysler and Fiat together in the past, and counts Mr. Marchionne as a personal friend.  Could he have sold the idea of a stratgic partnership to Chrysler-Fiat?  Or perhaps someone else?

And what would be the best way to give credibility to Fisker on being able to produce an entry level offering to take on General Motors, and to sell that dream to another company?  How about minting newly retired and “knower” of all things Chevrolet Volt/Cadillac ELR (now and future), Tony Posawatz, as Fisker CEO.

This imagined tie-up would also give Fisker more oompf for an IPO, and potentially an expansive dealership network to take advantage of.

Potential Competition For Proposed New Offering From Fisker Would Be GM's Cadillac ELR Due Out Late 2013

As a footnote, one has to wonder how GM is feeling about all of this brain-trust leaving the Voltec program.  

Now Fisker CEO, Tony Posawatz Looking Proud Of His Work With GM

GM has recently been putting a lot of time and effort to prosecute a Michigan couple who allegedly stole trade secrets about the General’s hybrid program ten years ago and tried to peddle them to Chinese automaker Chery Automobile Co.   But what of the issues with GM in having your number 1 guy retire from the Volt program and then resurface to lead another extended range maker with all your ‘secrets’ in tow?

GM also has seen their Volt’s chief Engineer, Frank Weber, leave the company to work on BMW’s i brand of extended range i8s and i3s (maybe i4)?  Heck, even the father of the Volt, Bob Lutz, now sits on the board of another company selling extended range trucks with VIA Motors. (although they are converting Chevys, so Bob may have GM’s blessing)

Does no one sign a non-compete at GM anymore?   Perhaps, GM’s problem is not some random engineer’s failed attempt to sell some antiquated tech in the past, but in letting knowledge just walk out the front door.

 

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10 responses to "Exclusive: Fisker Plans Entry Level Car To Take On Chevrolet Volt. General Motors"

  1. scottf200 says:

    Interesting. I guess I’m thinking that the Atlantic and Cadillac ELR were more competitors but you are suggesting the ELR will be a competitor for the new P-platform car. I would have thought the price of the Atlantic and ELR were more in-line. Perhaps your comments are based on performance. Rumor is that they are going to use the Voltec battery/powertrain differently in the ELR than the Volt — ie. more performance emphasis. Here’s to hoping they put a bigger generator and ICE in the ELR. I’m seriously looking at the Atlantic as my next car and my Volt will go to another family member. 21K(17K-EV) on my Volt and it is running great!

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Honestly, I think it is too early to tell at this point what this car would potentially go up against. We know the Atlantic is going to start in the mid 50s, but nothing on the ELR, although you would assume about the same.

      Ironically, the man running Fisker know probably knows the best of any of us about GM’s plans/pricing and where Fisker’s offerings best fit in. FWIW, Fisker doesn’t ever seem to compare the Karma/Atlantic to anything from GM.

      Just thinking out loud, if I was Fisker, I would probably be looking to be priced above the Volt and below the ELR to try to get Chevy buyers to trade up a little, and to get Cadillac buyers to maybe move into a Fisker for a little cheaper.

  2. Nelson says:

    “Heck, even the father of the Volt, Bob Lutz, now sits on the board of another company selling extended range trucks with VIA Motors. (although they are converting Chevys, so Bob may have GM’s blessing)”

    I know they’re concentrating on fleet sales, but it would be nice to know what VIA’s monthly and YTD sales and/or production numbers are?

    NPNS!
    Volt#671

    1. Spin says:

      Deliveries are planned for next year, but their battery supplier is A123

  3. Schmeltz says:

    I like speculation like this—good article Jay. I still think Fisker is too weak of a prospect to even see a third vehicle project through. Considering there magnitude of difficulties even with Tony Posawatz at the helm, I think Fisker has too many cards stacked against them already. To name a few:

    1. Quality problems. A story about Fiskers catching fire every other week is not helpful.
    2. Bad press as a result of quality problems.
    3. High cost.
    4. Very few dealerships.
    5. Practically no name recognition outside of the car enthusiast realm (i.e. “us”).
    6. Huge development costs.

    I think a better approach would be for Fisker to be taken over by Fiat Chrysler vs. being partners or “co-developers”. Then, Chrysler could cherry pick the best, most strategic dealerships in their portfolio to sell these cars. Developement costs would be picked up by Chrysler, but intellectual property could be utilized elsewhere in the Chrysler portfolio.

    Sound good?

    1. staff says:

      That is a good update backstroke, will put up a piece on that news. Thanks

    2. Bonaire says:

      Insurance claim there, possibly against the shipping company. I don’t see how the weather event could take out the company unless there is no way to claim the loss against someone’s insurance. If Fisker does make a small profit on each Karma, then there is opportunity loss here that they could write off on their financials (maybe?)

  4. Anthony says:

    At this point, the market is so small, I don’t think its a good idea to try to take on any particular model of plug-in car.

    Look at the varying price, capacities and ranges for plug-ins: Prius PI, C-Max Energi, Volt, ELR, …. Karma. If they want to come come down between the Volt and ELR that might work but I wouldn’t try to go head-to-head with the Volt (gen 2 by that time).

  5. Bonaire says:

    As long as this car is a stinkin’ CUV – that is what people want in an EREV. Not another 4-door sedan. Winner will be the one delivering larger-scale EREVs to the masses at “mass-produced prices”. They won’t beat the Volt in that game but they can leap-frog GM and others into EREV CUV and SUV stardom. That is if they make it the two years it will take to get there.