Hybrid Tech taps former Ford exec Martin Leach to boost Fisker bid

Article by Anita Panait, on February 16, 2014

Confident that it will win the auction for Fisker Automotive’s remaining assets, Hybrid Tech Holding LLC has recruited former Ford Motor Co. executive Martin Leach. Leach, who served as the former president of Ford's European operations, will provide added weight to Hybrid Tech’s management. "I've been working with them for months on a business plan and they have very clear intentions," Leach told Reuters.

Fisker filed for bankruptcy protection in November 2013 and has not built its signature Karma sports car since 2012, no thanks to technical glitches and a cash shortage. Hybrid Tech, which is an affiliate of Hong Kong tycoon Richard Li, has offered $55 million to acquire Fisker, while a unit of Chinese company Wanxiang Group placed an initial bid of around $35 million.

Wanxiang, however, has proposed that Fisker creditors will receive a 20 percent stake in the new Fisker operations. Wanxiang has also argued it could better manage Fisker’s assets.

The carmaker’s creditors have sought to file a case against Li, who was a former Fisker board member and investor, and other directors as well as insiders for allegedly causing the company's financial collapse. Leach is currently chairman of Magma Group, an automotive consultancy he founded.

According to Leach, Hybrid Tech's first task after winning the auction would be to look after existing owners of Fisker cars.  "Then we've got more than 400 suppliers that need to be re-engaged to be able to restart production,” Leach remarked. “That's a big challenge." According to Hybrid, it is exploring a partnership with Boston Power to supply batteries should it win the auction set February 12.

Fisker Automotive's first car is called the Karma and it was built in accordance with the carmaker’s Sustainable & Accountable Design principle. This design philosophy represents a dramatic forward leap for the whole automotive industry.

Even if it is a new company and new game player in the industry, Fisker gets that developing, producing, marketing, and disposing cars is a very resource- and energy-intensive proposition. It sees opportunity to improve the process and it is able to reimagine what consumers can expect from automakers.

Fisker Automotive strives to be a carmaker that is most dedicated to accountability and sustainability by pursuing ways to reduce the environmental impact and carbon footprint of its cars, as well as to raise their efficiency.

The Karma and all Fisker vehicles in the future are going to be sold and serviced via a worldwide network of reputable, established, and independent retailers. In the United States alone, 45 locations were identified, and around the same number of locations are planned for European markets.

This European retail network is still being developed and it is going to be managed by importers such as Zurich, Switzerland’s Emil Frey Group, and Copenhagen, Denmark’s Nellemann. There’s also Merano, Italy’s Fisker Italia, and Istanbul, Turkey’s BD Otomotive. What’s more, Fisker got into a non-exclusive distribution deal with China Grand Automotive in December 2010.

Fisker Automotive made sure that Sustainable and Accountable Design philosophy played a big role in the creation of its first car, the new Fisker Karma.

The company knows that the process of developing, building, marketing and disposing of cars takes a lot of energy and resources. Fisker is trying to improve this process, something it could do as it is a new company with a clean slate.

Fisker has been looking for ways to both increase efficiency and lessen environmental impact across its entire value chain – a great start for company that is trying to become the automaker that is most dedicated to sustainability and accountability.

Sales and servicing of the new Fisker Karma and succeeding models will be done through a network of reputable dealers around the world. The company has already identified 45 locations in the United States, and is planning to have another 45 in Europe.

Its retail network in Europe is being developed – and will be managed – by various vehicle importers in Copenhagen, Denmark (Nellemann), Merano, Italy (Fisker Italia), Zurich, Switzerland (Emil Frey Group) and Istanbul, Turkey (BD Otomotive ). In Asia, Fisker’s presence is assured following the signing of a non-exclusive distribution agreement with China Grand Automotive in Shanghai in December 2010.

Fisker regards the Karma as the first American-designed and engineered luxury car that was created to entice customers around the world. When launched, the Karma will be only luxury sedan in the world that already complies with future fuel consumption and emission requirements.

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Topics: ford, fisker

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