A slate of high-profile battery issues during testing by Consumer Reports has caused a headache for Fisker. The issue is caused by a fault in the batteries which are the subject of a recall by A123 Systems, Fisker’s supplier for battery packs.
Plug in hybrid lacks volt of confidence
Fisker is currently having a hard time getting established due to various issues. Aside from corporate woes such as funds frozen by the Department of Energy, Fisker’s flagship car, the Karma, has been subject of some particularly damaging news in a review by Consumer Reports magazine.
The car broke down in the first day of testing, got fixed, went back to the test track and then started acting up again. As of March 19, according to Consumer Reports, the car had received a new battery pack and was cautiously returned to testing, though Consumer Reports noticed some other glitches. Bloomberg reports that the issue appears to have been a manufacturing defect in the battery pack, as the company that manufactures the batteries, A123 Systems, has announced a recall for the battery pack found in the Karma.
Battery not here to stay
A123 Systems has announced that it will replace all of the potentially affected battery packs that it has supplied to its customers, which includes Fisker. Other companies that A123 supplies with batteries, according to AutoBlog, include Via Trucks, Mahindra and BMW. However, according to Reuters, those companies haven’t been named in the recall, and the batteries BMW buys from A123 for the ActiveE series are different from those in the Karma.
The issue, according to Bloomberg, was with a faulty calibration on a welding machine in A123’s manufacturing facility in Livonia, Mich. The miscalibration can misalign a component within the batteries, which can lead to an electrical short. As a result, durability can be reduced in the battery pack as well as cause the battery to fail prematurely.
A123 believes the recall will cost roughly $55 million to fund, which it is able to pay for, but the company will have to undertake additional fundraising throughout the rest of the year. The news of the recall caused the stock price of the company to dip 14 percent during Monday trading, according to Reuters.
Owners should be contacted soon
As a result of the recall, Fisker has also expanded the scope of the warranty on Karma sedans by extending the full warranty by 10 months or 10,000 miles. The previous warranty covered the Karma for 50 months or 50,000 miles; now it extends for 60 months or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Fisker, according to USA Today, has vowed that all affected battery packs will be replaced, but hasn’t announced how this plan will be implemented. Owners will likely be contacted in the near future to return to dealerships and the battery pack will be replaced at no cost. The Karma is also set to receive a “next generation” software upgrade in the near future, according to Consumer Reports.
USA Today: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2012/03/fisker-replacing-flawed-batteries-on-plug-in-karma/1#.T3Cx_WWP-_0
Consumer Reports: http://news.consumerreports.org/cars/2012/03/fisker-to-replace-karmas-drive-batteries.html