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Fisker Responds to 2nd Fire with 2nd Recall

Blames faulty fan, not battery, for blaze.

by on Aug.20, 2012

A Fisker Karma damaged by a fire in Northern California. Photo courtesy Jalopnik.com.

Fisker Automotive has ordered a recall of its Karma plug-in hybrid – the second since it was launched earlier this year – in the wake of a fire that destroyed one of the vehicles in a Northern California parking lot.

The maker blames a sealed fan unit for the blaze, rather than the lithium-ion battery pack.  But the incident is nonetheless a serious setback for the struggling start-up which earlier this year had a federal low-interest loan frozen, forcing it to seek out private capital to help complete the development of its second – and arguably even more critical product line.

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“We are committed to responding swiftly and decisively to events such as this to ensure total customer satisfaction,” says Henrik Fisker, founder and chairman of the California-based automaker. “This incident resulted from a single, faulty component, not our unique EVer powertrain or the engineering of the Karma.   As this situation demonstrates, Fisker Automotive is dedicated to doing whatever is necessary to address safety and quality concerns.”

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Battery Recall Latest Setback for Fisker Karma

Defective lithium battery packs will be replaced.

by on Mar.26, 2012

Fisker founder Henrik Fisker with the Karma.

It’s been one series of problems after another for battery-car start-up Fisker Automotive.  This time, the maker says it will have to replace potentially defective batteries in its Karma plug-in hybrid due to a manufacturing problem discovered by supplier A123.

Fisker itself plans to take steps to cover potential problems with the Karma, including offering owners an extended warranty.

The problem came to light earlier this month when a Fisker Karma delivered for testing to Consumer Reports magazine froze up and wouldn’t shift out of Park.  It was quickly determined that the problem was the result of a short circuit in the battery that put the vehicle into failsafe mode.

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Battery maker A123 now acknowledges that a manufacturing glitch at a plant in Michigan caused the problem – which also plagues five other battery car projects.  The supplier won’t say who the other customers are, nor will it reveal the precise number of batteries impacted by the glitch but it announced the recall of potentially defective lithium-ion packs will cost A123 about $55 million.

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Fisker Recall Triggered by Potential Battery Fire

Impacts entire initial run of plug-in hybrids now on the road.

by on Dec.30, 2011

The Fisker Karma is recalled due to a potential battery fire problem.

In a potentially embarrassing turn of events, the California-based battery-car start-up Fisker Automotive will recall all of the cars it has sold so far due to a potential defect that could cause the $102,000 Fisker Karma plug-in hybrids to catch fire.

The problem is only remotely similar to the issue believed to have caused several fires involving Chevrolet Volt plug-ins after they were tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  An improperly installed hose clamp, Fisker said, can result in the leak of coolant that could, in turn, short out the Karma’s lithium-ion battery pack.

“If coolant enters the battery compartment, an electric short could occur,” a notice on the NHTSA website says, “possibly resulting in a fire.”

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As a result of the defect Fisker will recall 232 of the plug-in hybrid sports cars to repair the clamp.  But less than 50 are actually in the hands of owners following a slower-than-expected launch of the Karma – which is assembled at a plant in Finland then shipped to the United States.  Spokesman Roger Ormischer indicated there have been no reports of any problems with the vehicles that have already been sold.

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