Fisker Recalls Plug-in Karma Cars for Fans Linked to Fire

Fisker Recalls Plug-in Karma Sedans for Fans Linked to Fire
Fisker Automotive Inc.'s Karma. Photographer: Jonathan Lurie/Bloomberg

Fisker Automotive Inc., a maker of luxury plug-in hybrid cars backed by U.S. government loans, plans to recall all its $103,000 Karma sedans to fix a flawed cooling fan linked to a California fire.

The closely held company, working with investigators from Pacific Rim Investigative Services Group, a fire-analysis firm in Corona, California, said today in a statement that a fault in the fan in the car’s front left corner overheated and caused a slow-burning fire in the vehicle in Woodside, California, on Aug. 10. The Anaheim, California-based company and its dealers will notify customers of plans to replace the fan, Fisker said.

“This incident resulted from a single, faulty component,” Henrik Fisker, the car’s designer and Fisker’s executive chairman and co-founder, said in the statement. The car’s lithium-ion batteries, motor and other electric components weren’t the cause of the problem, he said.

The incident follows a March recall by Fisker’s battery supplier A123 Systems Inc. to replace flawed packs, and a recall in December for a software glitch. Fisker is working to improve its finances and sales after losing access last year to a portion of a $529 million low-interest loan awarded by the U.S. Energy Department in 2009.

The company this week named Tony Posawatz, a former General Motors Co. engineer who led development of the plug-in Chevrolet Volt sedan, as its new chief executive officer, replacing Tom LaSorda. Fisker’s loss of its federal loan led the company in February to stop work at a Wilmington, Delaware, factory where it planned to build a second car model, the Atlantic.

Cooling Fans

The cost of replacing the cooling fans isn’t likely to have a “material impact” on Fisker, the company said in the statement. It has delivered about 1,900 Karmas since last year, Henrik Fisker said this week.

The Karma fire in Woodside was the second this year. The company hasn’t been able to determine the cause of an earlier fire in Sugar Land, Texas, Roger Ormisher, a spokesman for the company, said by e-mail today.

“The report for the Texas fire is not in the public domain and we do not have access to it,” he said. Any link between that fire and the one in Woodside “is pure speculation and the real root cause is unlikely to be determined,” Ormisher said.

Seeking Information

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said last week it was aware of the Woodside fire and would determine whether additional “agency action” was required, without elaborating.

Congressional Republicans including Senators Charles Grassley of Iowa and John Thune of South Dakota have been reviewing Fisker’s U.S. loans recently, seeking additional information from the Energy Department and the company about its business plans and use of funds.

Separately, General Motors Co. is recalling 249,260 vehicles over concern that fluid may enter the driver’s door, causing corrosion that could result in a short in the circuit board, NHTSA said on its website today. The recall covers model year 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer EXT and GMC Envoy XL light trucks; 2006-07 Chevrolet Trailblazers, GMC Envoy, Buick Rainier, SAAB 9-7x and Isuzu Ascender sport-utility vehicles.

Ducati Motor also recalled 2,411 of its 1199 Panigale motorcycles because of possible loose screws and bearings in steering, and a cable cover that could melt or catch fire, NHTSA said.

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