A123 Systems to Replace Faulty Fisker Karma EV Batteries for $55 Million
March 27, 2012 11:56 AM
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2012 Fisker Karma
A123 will replace all defective batteries made at the Livonia, Michigan plant
EV battery maker A123 Systems Inc. announced that it would be replacing all defective battery packs that were assembled in Livonia, Michigan for Fisker Automotive and other customers.
A123 said the replacement effort wasn't due to a safety issue, but it will spend $55 million on replacing all defective batteries made in the Livonia plant, which opened in 2010 after A123 received a $249 million grant from the Department of Energy and $125 million in state incentives.
A123 didn't specify all of the customers it plans to replace batteries for, but Fisker Automotive is definitely on the list. In December 2011, A123
found a safety issue with the batteries it provided to Fisker
. More specifically, the hose clamps in the internal cooling system of the batteries were misaligned, which could cause coolant to leak. Furthermore, a coolant leak could lead to an electrical short circuit.
Shortly after discovering the problem, A123 said it had a solution and
Fisker recalled more than 200 Karma plug-in hybrids
to have the batteries fixed.
All seemed well after the fix, but earlier this month,
published a piece on its broken $107,850 Karma plug-in hybrid that it only had for a few days. The Karma, which had less than 200 miles on the odometer, became undriveable during a routine speedometer calibration test. The dashboard continuously flashed a warning message, and once parked, the Karma's transmission went into Neutral and wouldn't shift to any gear except Park and Neutral via its electronic shifter. Even after turning it off and restarting it, the Karma would only drive a few feet before doing the same thing.
The high-profile report caught sent some negative attention Fisker's way. After
sent its Karma to the dealer, it was discovered that
the battery was the issue
. According to the dealer, a "fault was found in the battery and inverter cable" and "both were replaced as a unit."
received its Karma back after one week, and said that it was "the first time in memory that we have had a car that is undriveable before it has finished our check-in process."
Now, A123, which supplies EV batteries to Fisker, will be replacing all of the auto company's batteries as well as batteries it has supplied to other customers for a grand total of $55 million.
"There are five transportation customer production programs that have received products from A123 that potentially have defective cells," said David Vieau, A123 CEO. "We have sufficient liquidity to fund this campaign, but expect this situation will require us to adjust our fundraising strategy."
Not only will A123 replace all of the batteries for Fisker's 2012 Karma, but it will also up the battery warranty from 50,000 miles to 60,000 miles -- but in North America only.
"The entire Fisker team is committed to the complete satisfaction of our customers and their experience with our vehicles," said Tom LaSorda, Fisker CEO. "As a new technology start-up company, we have stepped up to many challenges in our short history as we have launched one of the most advanced electric vehicles with extended range in the world."
The Detroit News
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
3/28/2012 10:44:13 AM
When its 30 F outside, you can't use the "air" to warm up the battery.
The Tesla Roadster, Chevy Volt, and Fisker Karma all use a Liquid Thermal Management System that both Cools AND Heats the battery.
The Leaf meanwhile in the US comes with a Battery Heater and Special Insulation that helps protect the battery in the winter. The next generation Leaf is going to use some additional features as well. My point was its not as simple as "Leaf has no Thermal Management System and those others have a really complicated one". The Leaf has chosen to use a simplified battery management system that will compromise the ability to keep the battery in the correct temperature range and lead to increased battery loss.
I don't know how much, but it will occur. Leaf's warranty just allows you to drive the Leaf at full motor power. It explicitly states it does not cover "gradual" loss of charge. And if you ever leave it in 120 degree external air for more than 24 hours, you void your warranty completely. While, I believe a typical Leaf will lose around 30% battery capacity between 7-10 years of age, the Leaf's warranty works out to be as much as 75% loss of range possible and the motor would still work at "full power".
I just can't recommend purchasing a Leaf under those conditions. As noted, Chevy Volt warranties that at the end of 8 years/100,000 miles, the battery pack will have a minimum level of 11.4 kWh of capacity left or they will restore the pack to at least this level. That's alot more comforting if your the type of person who -buys- cars rather than leasing them.
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