A new leadership team is taking over Arcimoto, a Eugene, Oregon-based start-up that makes doorless electric three-wheelers.
On Thursday, the company said board member Chris Dawson will take over as chief executive officer, replacing interim chief executive officer Jesse Fittipaldi. Arcimoto added that Fittipaldi will stay on as chairman and report to Dawson in the future.
Two executives also recently left the company: former CFO Doug Campoli and former chief experience officer Lynn Yeager. In addition, Arcimoto’s product manager, Dwayne Lum, is now the company’s chief operating officer.
An Arcimoto staffer since 2015, Fittipaldi took over the interim role in August, weeks after police reportedly slapped Arcimoto founder and former CEO Mark Frohnmayer with a DUI citation, according to the outlet. Oregon Register-Guard news. Around this time, Dawson joined the startup’s board of directors.
Who is Chris Dawson?
Arcimoto said in a statement that his incoming chief executive “recently served as chief executive officer of Nikola Tesla Co.” Crucially, “Nikola Tesla Co.” is not associated with Nikola Corporation or Tesla Inc.
To complicate matters (at least for this reporter), Arcimoto said Dawson also spent five years at Tesla (Musk’s) working on “battery production, the Model S/X line, and general assembly of the Model 3.”
In a call with TechCrunch, Dawson said he “was a huge Nikola Tesla fan” growing up. When I explained that he was puzzled by the name’s similarity to the aforementioned EV companies, Dawson said, “You’re right that it’s confusing.”
He added: “Every other day, I have to correct someone about my level of commitment to Tesla, because what also makes it confusing is that I spent a long period of time with Tesla.” I’ve reached out to Tesla Inc. for more information, but I doubt they’ll get back to me, given the disbandment of their media team.
Arcimoto’s press release described Nikola Tesla Co. as an “engineering services company with projects including electrification, hybridization, electric vehicle charging, hydrogen powertrain development, hydrogen-powered VTOL, hydrogen power systems , fuel cells and development of hydrogen electrolyzers”.
Dawson said the Texas-based corporation does consulting work, but added that “we’re really more of a hands-on type of organization.” According to Dawson, Nikola Tesla Co.’s customers included a drone company called Tesla Aerial Robotics and the Department of Defense.
When asked for more details about his connection to the Department of Defense, Dawson said: “I can’t go into a lot of detail, but overall, it’s the electrification, the hybridization of today’s tactical gear that’s on the battlefield, as what these different Department of Defense organizations try. to make the transition to green solutions that are more sustainable, but also better”. TechCrunch has reached out to the Defense Department for confirmation and will update this story when we have a response.
What’s next for Arcimoto?
Arcimoto ended 2022 with less than half a million dollars in cash and warned investors in its annual report that it had “substantial doubts about (its) ability to continue” trading. However, earlier this year the company secured $18 million in additional funding through two separate raises and said it would start shipping new EVs in March.
According to Dawson, Arcimoto now produces new vehicles every week. He said the company cut costs in recent months by laying off or terminating about 200 people. The company currently has about 110 people on its staff, Dawson added.
The incoming CEO told TechCrunch: “We believe that by the end of the year, we will be able to be, at the product level, profitable. And those pieces are really the bones that we need to move this forward.”
When asked about future products, Dawson said Arcimoto is focused on its existing vehicles, which include its consumer-focused Fun Utility Vehicle and a delivery-focused version called the Deliverator.