What holiday gift do you give Fisker Automotive, the company responsible for the world’s first plug-in hybrid sports coupe?  A Matchbox 2012 Fisker Karma perhaps?

But a public suggestion that the battery packs inside the $106,000+ Fisker Karma luxury plug-in hybrid are at risk of a coolant leak which could lead to a short circuit or even a fire? 

That’s more suited to a halloween prank than a place on Santa’s sleigh

On Friday, just two days before Christmas, lithium-ion battery pack supplier A123 Systems warned that it had found a “potential safety issue” in battery packs it has supplied to Fisker Automotive.  It also supplies battery packs to General Motors and Daimler, among others. 

As reported in the Automotive News, A123 systems CEO David Vieau made the announcement on A123 Systems’ Investor Relations web portal, in which he detailed both the problem and how the company proposed to fix it

“Certain hose clamps that are part of the battery pack’s internal cooling system were misaligned, positioned in such a way that could potentially cause a coolant leak,” wrote Viaeu. “Over time, it is possible that in certain rare circumstances, this coolant leak could potentially lead to an electrical short circuit.”

2012 Fisker Karma

2012 Fisker Karma

As we’re all-too aware, it doesn’t take much for a short circuit to lead to a battery fire.

“We have developed a confirmed repair for this situation,” Vieau reassured. “In the short time since recognizing this potential safety issue, the root cause was quickly identified, a fix has been developed, and corrective action is well underway.”

Although Fisker has already made several hundred cars, only 50 or so privately-owned Karmas will need to undergo warrantied repairs to rectify the potentially dangerous safety issue. 

At the time of writing however, the battery pack repair is not listed on the official NHTSA safety recall database. There have also been no reported incidents involving fire or serious damage involving the incorrectly-assembled Fisker Karma battery packs. 

While the announcement from A123 Systems is a preemptive precautionary measure to eliminate any potential fire risks in the Fisker Karma’s battery pack, it is likely to heighten, not diminish the political storm surrounding electric car safety. 


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