Fisker, Supplier A123 Faces Battery Issue

For electric and hybrid vehicles, it’s all about the batteries and Fisker Automotive, maker of the high-end, $102,000 Karma sedan, just got some bad news about theirs.

Fisker’s battery supplier, A123, recently issued a memo by CEO David Vieau on its investor relations website that says it found a “potential safety issue” in batteries it has sent to the electric automaker. The memo said hose clamps that are part of the battery’s internal cooling system were “misaligned, positioned in such a way that could potentially cause a coolant leak. Over time, it is possible that in certain rare circumstances, this coolant leak could potentially lead to an electrical short circuit.”

karmaa123batteryfix

image via Fisker Automotive

A123, which also supplies batteries to GM and Daimler AG, said that in total, fewer than 50 customer Karmas are involved in this action and, “there have been no related battery performance or safety incidents with cars in the field.” A123 also noted that “the root cause was quickly identified, a fix has been developed and corrective action is well underway.”

In an open letter to Karma owners posted on the front page of the Fisker website, CEO Henrik Fisker wrote, “As a precaution we are replacing battery packs in the 50 cars already in customer hands with brand new ones, and are making modifications to address the issue in the more than 1,200 Karmas already produced and in production. At Fisker Automotive we see this quick and thorough response as an investment in our long-term reputation as we build a solid company that understands the importance of doing what is right for our customers.

A123 teamed with Fisker in early 2010. The deal called for A123 to supply batteries to Fisker for the Karma and a lower-end model from Fisker due in 2012. As part of the deal, A123 Systems invested up to $23 million in Fisker, which included up to $13 million in cash and the rest in stock.

Steve Duda lives in West Seattle, WA with three dogs and a lot of outdoor gear. A part-time fly fishing fishing guide and full-time writer, Steve’s work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Seattle Weekly, American Angler, Fly Fish Journal, The Drake, Democracy Now! and many others.