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Entries in Fisker Karma (3)

Monday
Aug202012

Fisker Issues Second Recall of Electric Car

Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- After the second of two mysterious fires in a Karma sedan, the government-backed electric car-maker Fisker has initiated a voluntary recall of its luxury vehicles.

In a statement, Fisker spokesman Roger Ormisher said that Fisker engineers and an independent fire expert had "identified the root cause" of a fire that swept through a Karma parked outside a Woodside, Calif., grocery store on Aug. 10.

"The investigation located the ignition source to the left front of the Karma, forward of the wheel, where the low-temperature cooling fan is located," said the statement. "The final conclusion was that this sealed component had an internal fault that caused it to fail, overheat and start a slow burning fire."

Fisker announced a voluntary recall "with respect to this cooling fan unit" and said it had already contacted its retailers.

As first reported by Jalopnik.com, the owner found the vehicle burning in the parking lot when he returned from shopping. At the time, the Woodside Fire Department said the immediate cause of the blaze appeared to be "heat from powered equipment," and firefighters cut the car's battery cable after putting out the fire. Woodside Fire Chief Dan Ghiorso told ABC News that the origin of the fire appeared to be inside the engine compartment, though Fisker said in a statement that it was determined to be outside the compartment in an area "forward of the driver's side front tire."

Ghiorso said Monday that he did not dispute Fisker's new findings about the origin of the blaze. The fire did not cause any injuries but did cause damage to an adjacent vehicle, according to the Woodside Fire Department.

The fire is the second mysterious blaze in a Fisker Karma in 2012. Earlier this year, a Fisker Karma parked in the garage of a Sugar Land, Texas, home caught fire, destroying a portion of the residence. Fire officials blamed the electric vehicle for the fire, according to media reports, but Fisker contended that neither the car nor its battery had anything to do with the fire, since the car was unplugged at the time of the fire and the battery pack was intact and still working after the blaze.

In March, another Karma broke down in the middle of a Consumer Reports road test, a failure that Fisker later said was due to a faulty battery.

More than 250 Fisker Karmas, out of the more than 1,000 that the company says are on the road, have been subject to a recall over the last year due to problems with the cars' lithium ion batteries that could have led to fires in the $102,000 cars.

Monday's statement from Fisker noted that its independent experts had determined the Woodside fire "was not caused by the lithium-ion battery pack."

In 2010, the Department of Energy awarded Fisker a $529 million green-energy loan, in part to help purchase a shuttered General Motors plant in Delaware, where it predicted it would one day employ 2,000 auto workers to assemble a clean-burning gas-electric family car, known as the Atlantic.

Fisker collected nearly $200 million until February this year, when the government froze the loan because the company was failing to meet the government's milestones. Most of those federal funds went into bringing the Karma, which Fisker assembles in Finland, to the U.S. market.

Company executives began hinting in February that Fisker would reconsider its plan and look for a cheaper place to build the Atlantic, despite the federal funding it received to build in the U.S.

"If Fisker no longer gets government monies, then obviously we are in a place where other options are open to us and have to be considered from a business perspective," Roger Ormisher told ABC News in May. "However, given the work that we have done at the plant in Delaware and the fact that we own it, it is still our primary option to consider."

Ormisher reiterated to ABC News earlier this month that Delaware "is still very much our first choice. We own it. We've cleared it out. We've actually made it production-ready." Ormisher also said that negotiations with the DOE were ongoing. "We're hoping for a conclusion fairly soon," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug142012

Fisker Investigating Another Fire in Karma Electric Car

File photo. Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WOODSIDE, Calif.) -- Fisker Automotive is investigating the cause of a fire that broke out in one of its Karma luxury hybrid sports sedans last week, the second mysterious blaze in a Karma and the latest setback for the Obama administration-backed electric car maker amid continuing questions over whether it will ditch plans to build vehicles in the United States -- despite tens of millions of taxpayer dollars the administration funnelled to the company.

Fisker announced Monday that it had hired independent investigators from the Pacific Rim Investigative Group to work alongside its engineers to determine the exact cause of the fire, which occurred Friday in Woodside, California, near Palo Alto.

According to Jalopnik.com, which first reported the story, the Karma's owner discovered his car ablaze in a grocery store parking lot after finishing shopping.

The fire did not cause any injuries but did cause damage to an adjacent vehicle, according to the Woodside Fire Department. The immediate cause of the blaze appeared to be, "heat from powered equipment," according to the fire department, which cut the car's battery cable after putting out the fire.

Woodside Fire Chief Dan Ghiorso told ABC News that the origin of the fire appeared to be inside the engine compartment, though Fisker said in a statement that it was determined to be outside the compartment in an area, "forward of the driver's side front tire."

Earlier this year, a Fisker Karma parked in the garage of a Sugar Land, Texas home caught fire, destroying a portion of the residence. Fire officials blamed the electric vehicle for the fire, according to media reports, but Fisker contended that neither the car nor its battery had anything to do with the fire, since the car was unplugged at the time of the fire and the battery pack was intact and still working after the blaze.

In March, another Karma broke down in the middle of a Consumer Reports road test, a failure that Fisker later said was due to a faulty battery.

More than 250 Fisker Karmas, out of the more than 1,000 that the company says are on the road, have been subject to a recall over the last year due to problems with the cars' lithium ion batteries that could have led to fires in the $102,000 cars.

In 2010, the Department of Energy awarded Fisker a $529 million green-energy loan, in part to help purchase a shuttered General Motors plant in Delaware, where it predicted it would one day employ 2,000 auto workers to assemble a clean-burning gas-electric family car, known as the Atlantic.

Fisker collected nearly $200 million until February this year, when the government froze the loan because the company was failing to meet the government's milestones. Most of those federal funds went into bringing the Karma, which Fisker assembles in Finland, to the U.S. market.

Company executives began hinting in February that Fisker would reconsider its plan and look for a cheaper place to build the Atlantic, despite the federal funding it received to build in the U.S.

"If Fisker no longer gets government monies, then obviously we are in a place where other options are open to us and have to be considered from a business perspective," Fisker spokesman Roger Ormisher told ABC News in May. "However, given the work that we have done at the plant in Delaware and the fact that we own it, it is still our primary option to consider."

Ormisher did not immediately respond to a request for further comment on Tuesday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb062012

Another Green Energy Company Stumbles: Fisker Announces Layoffs

The Fisker Karma, seen in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 19, 2011. (ABC News)(NEW YORK) -- Fisker Automotive, the maker of an exotic electric sports car that is being built with help from a $529 million federal government loan guarantee, thanks to the Obama administration, has announced layoffs at its Delaware plant as it tries to persuade the Department of Energy to send it more public funds.

The company says 26 Fisker employees have been let go from the Delaware factory where renowned automotive engineer Henrik Fisker promised to one day begin producing affordable electric sedans. A Delaware newspaper also reported that subcontractors working on the car venture have been let go.

"It's temporary," said Roger Ormisher, a company spokesman. "We're being prudent and sensible as a company."

Fisker was one of a handful of auto companies to receive sizeable federal loans to help support the birth of an electric car industry in the United States. As ABC News reported in October, Fisker's efforts have been beset by delays.

Despite benefiting from U.S. taxpayer funds funnelled into the company by the Obama administration, the deal earned the ire of critics when the company signed a contract with a firm in Finland -- not the U.S. -- to assemble its first-generation electric vehicle, a flashy $97,000 sports coupe called the Karma which most taxpayers who helped keep the company afloat couldn't afford to buy anyway.

Accompanying the layoffs was an announcement that Fisker has approached the Department of Energy about revising the targets it had to meet in order to continue drawing money from the federal loan. Whether the Energy Department agrees to alter the terms and invest more taxpayer funds in the Fisker venture remains unclear. Critics of the Obama administration told ABC News they worried that Fisker was at risk of becoming the next Solyndra -- a reference to the now-bankrupt solar panel firm that received support from a government loan program.

Department of Energy officials said they understand that Fisker has experienced production delays, but said they are not uncommon for a new company. And the department remains hopeful about the company's future, in part because it has successfully raised more than $650 million in private sector investment to support its ongoing operations.

"Our loan guarantees have strict conditions in place to protect taxpayers," said DOE spokesman Damien LaVera. "The Department only allows the loan to be disbursed as the company meets certain milestones and demonstrates results. As has been widely reported, Fisker has experienced some delays in its sales and production schedule -- which is common for start-ups. As Fisker works through those issues and incorporates lessons learned from the production of the Karma, the Department is working with Fisker to review a revised business plan and determine the best path forward so the company can meet its benchmarks, produce cars and employ workers here in America."

When asked directly by ABC News in October if taxpayers should worry about the more than $500 million in federal funds on the line, Henrik Fisker was emphatic: "No, I don't think they need to worry about it." When asked if Fisker might be the next Solyndra, he said, "Absolutely not."

To date, Fisker has received $193 million in government funds, according to a company statement. Back in October, the company acknowledged outsourcing Karma assembly to Finland, but said that the bulk of its government funds would be used to launch a second-generation electric vehicle, still under wraps, that would be assembled in a shuttered General Motors plant in Delaware. Some of those hired to prepare the Delaware plant for that effort were among those let go.

That project, code-named Project Nina, has been put off until sometime in 2013.

"We have temporarily delayed work at the plant based on ongoing discussions with the DOE regarding funding for the Project Nina program," the company's statement said. "As a result, we have laid off 26 people."

Ormisher said Fisker has delivered between 250 and 300 Fisker Karmas in the United States, and the company is nearing approval to sell the cars in Europe.

The Obama administration has for months now been grappling with political attacks targeting its efforts to finance green energy start-ups. The financial meltdown of Solyndra has been the focus of a Republican-led congressional investigation and millions of dollars in attack ads by conservative groups.

The administration has defended its efforts, asserting that there has never been any evidence that political influence factored into decisions about which companies would receive Energy Department loans -- despite the fact that many of those loan recipients had close fundraising ties to Obama.

For instance, a top Obama fundraiser was also a chief private backer of Solyndra, the solar panel company. Similarly, a major investor in Fisker is a venture capital firm that lists former Vice President Al Gore as a partner.

Energy officials Monday touted a deal to recover money loaned to a less well-known firm, Beacon Power, which currently operates a 20-megawatt flywheel storage plant in Stephentown, N.Y. The company was the second recipient of Energy Department funds to file for bankruptcy. Under a deal announced Monday, taxpayers are expected to recover $28.7 million of the $39.5 million in federal funds that had been loaned to the struggling firm.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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