Three-wheeled electric vehicle startup Arcimoto changes leadership again
A new management team is taking over at Arcimoto, a Eugene, Oregon-based startup that makes doorless electric three-wheelers.
On Thursday, the company announced that board member Chris Dawson will take over as CEO, replacing interim CEO Jesse Fittipaldi. Arcimoto added that Fittipaldi would remain chairman and report to Dawson going forward.
Two executives also recently left the company – former chief financial officer Doug Campoli and former chief experience officer Lynn Yeager. Additionally, Arcimoto’s product manager, Dwayne Lum, is now the company’s chief operating officer.
An Arcimoto staffer since 2015, Fittipaldi assumed the interim role in August, weeks after police allegedly slapped Arcimoto founder and former CEO Mark Frohnmayer with a DUI citation, according to the Oregon newspaper, the Register-Guard. Around this time, Dawson joined the startup’s board of directors.
Who is Chris Dawson?
Arcimoto said in a statement that its new CEO “has recently served as CEO of Nikola Tesla Co.” Above all, “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 3” model.
On a call with TechCrunch, Dawson said he “was a huge Nikola Tesla fan” growing up. When I explained that I was intrigued by the similarity of the name to the aforementioned electric vehicle companies, Dawson said, “You’re right, it’s confusing.”
He added: “Every couple of days I kind of have to correct someone about my level of engagement with Tesla because what also makes it confusing is that I spent a long period of time with Tesla.” I’ve contacted Tesla Inc. for more information, but I doubt I’ll get a response, given the disbandment of their media team.
Arcimoto’s press release describes Nikola Tesla Co. as an “engineering services company with projects that include electrification, hybridization, electric vehicle charging, hydrogen powertrain development, VTOLs hydrogen fuel cells, hydrogen power systems, the development of fuel cells and hydrogen electrolysers”.
Dawson said the Texas-based company does consultancy work, but added that “we’re really more of a hands-on type organization.” According to the Dawson, Nikola Tesla Co.’s customers included a drone company called Tesla Aerial Robotics and the Department of Defense.
Asked for more details about his connection to the DoD, Dawson said, “I can’t go into specifics, but generally it’s the electrification, the hybridization of current tactical gear that’s on the field of battle, as these various DoD organizations try to transition to both more sustainable, but also better green solutions. TechCrunch has contacted the DoD for confirmation and will update this story when we get back to you.
What’s next for Arcimoto?
Arcimoto ended 2022 with less than half a million dollars in cash, warning investors in its annual report that it had “substantial doubt about (its) ability to continue” its business. Yet earlier this year the company secured an additional $18 million in funding via two separate raises and announced it would begin shipping new electric vehicles in March.
According to Dawson, Arcimoto now produces new vehicles every week. He said the company had cut costs in recent months by laying off or ending contracts with about 200 people. The company has about 110 employees today, Dawson added.
The new CEO told TechCrunch, “We believe, towards the end of the year, that we can be – product-wise – profitable. And those pieces are really the bones we need to get things done.
Asked about future products, Dawson said Arcimoto is focusing on its existing vehicles, which include its consumer-focused fun utility vehicle and a delivery-focused version called Deliverator.
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