By on March 26, 2012

A123 Systems will be replacing battery packs built at their Livonia, Michigan plant that contain prismatic cells – the same type used in the Fisker Karma. The recall is estimated to cost A123 about $55 million. The defective batteries are linked to the recent problems experienced by Fisker Karma owners, according to A123 CEO David Vieau.

The Karma is the single largest customer of prismatic cells from the Livonia plant. Green Car Reports claims that other cells built in China for different applications are not affected. John Voelcker of Green Car Reports describes the problem as

“…defect [that] was traced to a miscalibration in an automatic welding machine at the plant, which resulted in a misaligned component was not detected visually.

When the cells were compressed, interference could be created although the cells functioned properly at first. A123 says the defect does not cause a safety issue, and has had no reports of any safety concerns in any of the products.”

Vieau said that A123 will have to adjust their fundraising strategy to pay for the recall, but was forthcoming about accepting responsibility for the matter. “We make no excuses and we accept full responsibility for this action,” he said.

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9 Comments on “A123 Systems Recalling Battery Packs Used In Fisker Karma, Other Cars...”

  • avatar

    Is that just another way of saying batteries shorting out?

    It’s disturbing that the chinese made cells are fine while the american produced cells are problematic. You’d think by now all remaining american manufacturers have learned the value of quality control.

    • 0 avatar

      How do you know Chinese cells do not have any issues? Because there are no recalls of Chinese cells?
      They could be defective, and they could hide it. Or the company disappears.

    • 0 avatar

      The linked article says that some cells within a pack could short circuit.

      $55 million is a huge fix.

      Looks like they figured out that the welding flaw occurs fairly rarely, but went undetected. Because their packs contain many of these welded cells, each pack could contain a flawed cell. Therefore, the whole bunch of them (affecting 5 customers, not just Fisker) will be replaced.

      A123 is doing the right thing, but it’s going to be painful.

      It’s worth noting that customers will receive free replacement packs and a warranty extension.

  • avatar

    Kind of a shame that failures like this one can help to fail a product. Every manufacturer who is pushing technology ends up with failures identical to this one and in the era of the sound bite, no one ever offers the conclusion that this is just a part of the payment for this relentless improvement in all kinds of products. Hammers don’t suffer these kinds of failures, and don’t change very much either.

  • avatar

    Hey Derek – sorry for the unrelated post, but are comments supposed to be closed for Alex’s Yaris review?

  • avatar

    What does this do to A123’s balance sheet. Given they are a bit of a fringe player in the battery pack market what does this do their viability as a company? This has to hurt.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I think Fisker and A123 responded well to the battery debaucle compared to Tesla who blamed the customer when their car’s battery goes belly up.
    When you buy something expensive like an EV, you do not expect problems, However, if one occurs, you want it fixed fast and free. Fisker seems to understand this far more than Tesla.

    • 0 avatar

      Maybe you’re joking, I don’t know, but: From all reports Fisker’s and Tesla’s are two totally disparate issues, the former caused by a defect in the battery’s construction, while the latter being due to a customer’s actions which were clearly verboten in a signed contract.

      All I know’s what I’ve been told, but it sure doesn’t seem like these companies could have responded much differently than they have.

      And anyway, when you buy an expensive EV in 2012, you are an early adopter of new technology (popularity in the 1890s notwithstanding,) and should probably not expect perfection.

  • avatar

    Justin Bieber has one of these.

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