A123 Systems said some the batteries it made for the Fisker Karma may cause the extended-range plug-in to short circuit because improper alignment of the batteries' hose clamps may cause coolant leaks in "certain rare circumstances," an official statement from A123 says. Fewer than 50 Fisker Karmas may have the problem and A123 is in the process of fixing the malfunction, which will have "minimal financial impact" on the battery maker and has not affected any vehicles already on the road. Fisker said it has already "developed a confirmed repair for this situation" and "a fix has been developed and corrective action is well underway."
The malfunction marks the latest challenge in the relationship between A123 and Fisker. Last month, A123 laid off 125 workers at two Michigan plants because of Fisker's delays in launching sales of the Karma. Those layoffs may be temporary, if Fisker keeps its goal of selling 15,000 vehicles next year.
Last month, A123 also cut its 2011 revenue forecast because of fewer-than-expected Karma orders. A123 reduced its 2011 sales forecast by $45 million to between $165 million and $180 million. The battery maker, which went public in September 2009, has reported losses every quarter since 2008
Fisker pushed back the initial delivery date for the Karma at least four times since the September 2010 deadline company co-founder and chief executive Henrik Fisker set for first deliveries. Fisker, which has secured a $529 million federal advanced technology vehicle program loan and more than $600 million in private financing, is supposed to start building its Nina line of plug-in cars, which will include a sedan, coupe and crossover utility vehicle with pricing expected to start around $48,000, next year. The company unveiled a crossover version of the Karma at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September and said the model – dubbed the "Surf" – will be available to the public for the 2013 model year, the same year as the Nina.
You can read Fisker's statement on the battery situation after the jump.
A123 Systems is committed to designing, developing and manufacturing batteries and energy storage systems that deliver both high performance as well as exceptional safety.
We have determined that some of the battery packs we produce for Fisker Automotive could have a potential safety issue relating to the battery cooling system.
Specifically, 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. Over time, it is possible that in certain rare circumstances, this coolant leak could potentially lead to an electrical short circuit.
There have been no related battery performance or safety incidents with cars in the field. However, A123 and Fisker are committed to safety and are taking immediate, proactive steps to prevent any issue from occurring.
We have developed a confirmed repair for this situation. 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.
In total, fewer than 50 customer cars are involved in this action. We expect this situation to have minimal financial impact on A123, and our relationship with Fisker remains strong.
We remain vigilant in our quality assurance efforts and confident in our ability to deliver safe, reliable products to our customers.
Thank you for your continued support of A123 Systems.