Fisker recalls 239 of its 2012 Karma models to fix the batteries

Article by Christian Andrei, on December 31, 2011

Fisker Automotive is recalling 239 hybrid plug-in vehicles to correct a defect in the high-voltage battery. Specifically, the recall involves all 2012 Karma models manufactured between July 1 and November 3 this year, according to the recall notice posted on the website of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Fisker's lithium-ion batteries were supplied by A123 Systems, which has previously provided a notice to investors and customers regarding a possible safety problem with the cooling system of the battery. The automaker has not received any warranty claims, complaints or any other reports regarding the defect.

On December 21, Fisker notified federal regulators that it had identified a defective battery part. The agency believes that out of the 239 affected vehicles, less than 40 have been delivered to the customers.

The fix focuses on the hose clamps, which are improperly positioned during assembly. This misalignment could cause the coolant to leak from the cooling hoses, leading to a fire, the agency explained.

A123 System's CEO David Vieau stated in the consumer notice that they expect the situation to have "minimal financial impact" on the company. He added that its relationship with Fisker "remains strong." The luxury plug-in Karma is Fisker's first production model. It went into production earlier this year after delays.

A123 System also supplies batteries to General Motors Co.'s all-electric Chevrolet Spark minicar, which will be launched in 2013. In November, U.S. safety regulators opened a probe into the plug-in Chevrolet Volt to determine whether the vehicle's 400-pound battery poses a fire risk after a crash.

According to Fisker Automotive chief executive Henrik Fisker, it is important for the carmaker to maintain a singular design language while keeping the integrity of the original design from initial concept to final production. He noted that the Fisker Karma stands out because of its extreme proportions and elegant sculpture as well as the use of eco-friendly materials and its capability to deliver an inspiring drive.

Henrik remarked that they hope the Karma will create a new segment of eco-friendly transportation and become the most desirable plug-in hybrid sports sedan. The new Karma features an exterior defined by a continual flow of sculpture and dramatic proportions. The front view is accentuated by raised fenders and its low, wide stance. Compared to the original Karma prototype, the production version features an enhanced upper grill and a larger lower intake for better airflow.

It also features a new aerodynamic diffuser under the rear bumper that contributes to the cooling of the Karma’s electric drivetrain. One distinguishing element of the new Fisker Karma is its continuously formed glass solar panel roof – fitted as standard – which is the largest in the world and the first in the auto industry. On the other hand, the interior of the new Fisker Karma features an inviting cockpit inspired by nature's timeless beauty and the quality of classic design composition.

In addition, the sedan’s Sustainable and Accountable Design is evident on the use of reusable materials as complemented by modern technology. For instance, the wood trim used in the cabin is obtained from non-living trees: 'Fallen Trees,' 'Rescued Trees,' and 'Sunken Trees.' Fallen Trees are those that have already succumbed to old age while Rescued Trees are those that were burned in forest fires.

Sunken Trees, meanwhile, are those that were lurking on the bottom of lakes. Another defining characteristic of the new Fisker Karma is that its instrumentation and controls are easy to use.

A 10.2-inch touch sensitive screen – embedded in the layered EcoGlass center console – can be used to control HVAC, audio and other vehicle functions. Drivers can easily peek at the LCD gauges behind the car’s steering wheel to take a good look at the critical vehicle information like its speed and battery charge.

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