Fisker Expands Karma Battery Recall for Potential Fires

A123 is both a supplier and investor in Fisker. U.S. taxpayers subsidized both.

In an example of ongoing bad Karma, Fisker has told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that it is expanding its recall of the $103,000 Karma EV because the A123 supplied battery pack can leak coolant and start fires. Karma’s built between 22 September 2011, through 20 January 2012 are now included in the safety defect recall, NHTSA 11V598.

Previously Fisker announced a new battery warranty that includes a battery replacement at no cost for all affected 2012 Fisker Karma owners. North American customers will receive a full vehicle warranty extension from 50 months/50,000 miles to 60 months/60,000 miles. In Europe, coverage is also extended from 48 months/100,000 km to 60 months/100,000 km.

The latest NHTSA safety recall overlaps a field service action by A123 to replace battery modules and packs that may contain defective cells produced at A123’s Livonia, Mich. plant. At least four other unnamed product programs besides Fisker are potentially affected by what is a global recall. A123 supplies batteries to General Motors, BMW, Daimler and Ford, among others. A123, which makes modules for some customers and entire lithium battery packs for others, said it could not define the total number of systems impacted.

The estimated $55 million – best guess – recall came after the well-publicized failure during testing of a Fisker Karma that was owned by Consumer Reports. A123, an investor in Fisker as well as a supplier, lost almost $260 million in 2011. A123 received a $249.1 million grant from the Department of Energy to reopen plants in Livonia and Romulus, Mich., as well as money and tax credits from Michigan worth more than $100 million. The future of A123, which has never earned a profit, is not clear.

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About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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