General Motors’ search for a new chief ended with a decision based on stability, as the automotive giant named interim CEO Ed Whitacre as its permanent boss on Monday. Whitacre had been serving in that position since the beginning of last month, when then-CEO Fritz Henderson was fired.
Whitacre’s hiring makes sense because he had already hired the management team that would be working underneath the CEO, including bringing in new CFO Chris Liddell from Microsoft. In addition, the pool of qualified candidates who could step in and handle running a major car company in the midst of a massive overhaul was severely limited.
While GM was wrapping up its search for a new leader, Tata Motors will be starting one to find a new head of its Jaguar Land Rover division after David Smith stepped down as CEO. Director Ravi Smith will take over on a temporary basis until a permanent replacement can be found.
The Los Angeles Times reports that independent car maker Fisker Automotive Inc., which is committed to developing plug-in hybrid cars, has raised an additional $115.3 million in private equity funding. The money from three firms allows Fisker to gain access to almost $530 million in federal loans designated by the U.S. government in 2007 for companies developing alternative energy fuel technologies.
Fisker is the brainchild of Danish designer Henrik Fisker, and funds will help the company in its development of the Karma – its first plug-in hybrid. The Karma will be produced in a limited run of 15,000 per year and retail for roughly $90,000.
The Karma is the first step toward the next round of plug-in vehicles from Fisker. A lower-cost version called Project Nina is currently under development, and is slated to deliver a plug-in car that will cost $47,400.
The Detroit Free News reports that angry protesters interrupted a speech by Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne during the Automotive News World Congress dinner celebration in Detroit on Wednesday night, releasing balloons and passing out fliers critical of the company’s recent handling of labor issues.
The fliers pointed people to www.carbuyersbeware.com, which is a site that protests Fiat’s purchase of Chrysler. One protestor, who identified himself as a member of the Teamster’s strategic campaign division, said that he was protesting the company’s decision to start using nonunionized car haulers, saving the company $10 per car.
Automotive News reports that longtime Ford Motor Co. executive Hal Feder has been tapped to lead sales for the Ford and Lincoln Mercury brands. According to a memo sent out to employees today, Feder will replace the retiring Randy Ortiz as general manager of Ford and Lincoln Mercury sales.
Feder has worked for Ford since 1983, and most recently was the CEO of Ford Motor Co. of Southern Africa, leading sales and manufacturing for models produced for the South African market including the Mazda Drifter, Ford Focus CC, Mazda3, Ford Ranger and Ford Bantam.
Feder began his career with Ford in 1983 as a zone manager for Ford division, focusing on Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana. From 1987 to 1989, he held positions at the division including sales promotion specialist for the southeast region. He’s worked in the Lincoln division and the customer service division.