Fisker Recalls Karmas After A123 Reports Battery Defect

Fisker Automotive Inc., which is beginning to sell plug-in electric sports cars, said it is recalling 239 Karma cars in the U.S. because of a battery defect supplier A123 Systems Inc. announced last week.

Misplaced hose clamps in the batteries could cause coolant to leak and potentially cause fires in all Karmas produced so far, Fisker, based in Anaheim, California, said in a notice posted today to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website. A123 disclosed the defect Dec. 23.

General Motors Co.’s electric Chevrolet Volt, which is under U.S. investigation over fires that started after crash tests, uses a different battery supplier than Fisker. GM said earlier this month it would buy A123 batteries for its electric Chevy Spark that use a less volatile chemistry than the Volt batteries supplied by LG Chem Ltd.

Fisker, whose Karma sedan retails for $102,000, had sent 225 of the cars to dealers and had 1,200 “in the pipeline,” Chief Executive Officer Henrik Fisker said in a Dec. 21 interview.

The company in 2009 received a $529 million U.S. Energy Department low-interest loan that has drawn scrutiny after the failure of Solyndra LLC, a solar-panel maker that received a loan guarantee from a different department program. A123 received a $249.1 million department grant for electric-battery development, the second-largest award from economic-stimulus money allocated for advanced batteries.

Fisker has contacted buyers of all the cars purchased so far, Roger Ormisher, a company spokesman, said in a telephone interview.

“We identified very quickly what the problem was, and there have been no incidents whatsoever,” he said. “It’s really important that we actually fixed everything before it became an issue.”