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A123 Systems finds problems in batteries for the Fisker Karma

Problem found in coolant system for battery packs A123 Systems is supplying for the FIsker Karma.

Battery manufacturer A123 Systems disclosed today flaws in the battery packs they've supplied to Fisker for the Karma plug-in hybrid luxury sedan. A123's engineers have identified the nature of the flaw in the coolant system which could lead to a coolant leak. Repair efforts are already underway. The nature of the flaw is similar to the one GM says was behind the battery pack fire in a crash tested Chevy Volt.

A123 Systems sells finished battery packs to automakers such as Fisker, as well as General Motors and Daimler AG. These are complete battery packs, including cells, battery container, battery management systems, and most important to this case, a cooling system.

The company disclosed that some hose clamps in the battery coolant system were misaligned and positioned in a way to allow leaks in certain circumstances. A123 believes the leak had the potential to cause a short circuit.

The press release does not use the word "fire" but of course this is where our minds leap. GM has admitted the fire in the Chevy Volt battery pack was due to a coolant leak, following an extreme crash test simulation, and that fire occurred after the coolant crystallized forming a short circuit. Given that context Fisker and A123 Systems are understandably taking proactive steps to rectify the issue right away.

The issue affects 50 Fisker Karma sedans that have already been delivered to customers. A123 Systems says the root cause of the issue has been identified, and having developed a fix are taking corrective action.

Fisker's current Karma production is 25 cars per day, and they expect to increase that to 60 cars a day soon.

A123 Systems has been selected as the battery pack supplier for GM's upcoming Chevy Spark EV. (see GM to use different battery technology in Spark EV than the Volt) The company also sells large scale energy storage systems for smart grid systems being deployed. The company claims the quality issue will have minimal financial impact, and that their relationship with Fisker Automotive remains strong.


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