Fisker announces yet another Karma recall following investigations

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The Fisker Karma seems to be smiling bravely as it faces yet another recall. Image: phil denton/Flickr/CC BY-SA

Fisker has announced another Karma recall following an investigation into fires in the federally-backed luxury electric car. The recall, however, is not over a faulty lithium-ion battery.

Cooling fan is the culprit

Fisker’s internal investigation, as well as an independent investigation by Pacific Rim Investigative Services Group, have agreed that an Aug. 10 fire in a Karma parked at a  grocery store in Woodside, Calif. was the result of a faulty cooling fan.

Fisker spokesman Roger Ormisher said:

“The investigation located the ignition source to the left front of the Karma, forward of the wheel, where the low- temperature cooling fan is located. The final conclusion was that this sealed component had an internal fault that caused it to fail, overheat and start a slow burning fire.”

Texas fire

In May, a garage in which a Karma was parked went up in flames in Sugarland, Texas. At the time, fire officials blamed the Karma’s battery pack for the fire. Fisker, however, denies it was responsible, since the car was not plugged in, and the battery pack remained intact following the fire.

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The taxpayer’s nickel

Fisker was awarded a $529 million green-energy loan from the Department of Energy in 2010. Fisker collected about $200 million of that money before the government froze its loan for failing to meet agreed-upon milestones.

Since that time, Fisker has been clambering for private funds to bank auto production.

At this time, the assembly of the Karma is farmed out to manufacturer Valmet in Finland. Fisker used part of its loan money to purchase a plant in Delaware for the production of its new hybrid model, the Atlantic. However, in February it began hinting that it may look for a more economical area of the world for the work, following the freeze on its federal loan.

Early this month, though, Ormisher told ABC that the Delaware plant is still its first choice for the job:

“We own it. We’ve cleared it out. We’ve actually made it production-ready.”

Recall effort

Fisker says it will replace the Karma’s cooling fan, and a new fuse will be added as a fail-safe precaution. No time-frame has yet been announced for the recall. However, Fisker says it has already informed its retailers of the campaign.

Fisker said, in a statement, that the current recall will not “have a material financial impact” on a company that has been plagued with bad karma.

About a quarter of all Karmas on the road have been recalled in the past two years. More than 250 of the over 1,000 vehicles sold have had to return to the dealer for fixes. Soon, that will be 100 percent, as the current recall will affect every Karma on the road.

Those are not a particularly encouraging statistics for a car that retails for $102,000 and was funded by the taxpayers.


Motor Trend
Detroit Free Press

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