Electric car maker Fisker Automotive ended 2011 on a down note: The company recalled 239 of its electric Karmas over faulty batteries made by A123 Systems. But as of Tuesday morning, Fisker has been rushing to fix the problem and says that the “majority” of its customers’ and dealers’ cars with problem batteries have either gotten new batteries or have been repaired.
The remaining customers with problem cars have been contacted and will get new batteries shortly. Fisker says it learned about the problem with the hose clamps of the lithium-ion batteries about two weeks ago. According to the transportation safety board’s notice, Fisker first reported the battery problem on Dec. 21.
Recalls happen. Back in the day Tesla had to recall cars over rear bolt hubs and a cable problem. The problem with recalls is that they cost money, and they also can erode customer confidence, particularly for a startup and an inaugural electric car.
The Karma was already delayed, as the company’s initial plan was to start shipping the car in 2009 and become profitable in 2011. The 239 cars that were recalled represented a good chunk of the Karmas it had rolled out of the assembly lines before it caught the problem, and Fisker’s CEO, Henrik Fisker, told Bloomberg on Dec. 21 that it had shipped 225 Karmas to dealers and the company was making 25 cars per day.
Fisker has already raised over $1 billion in loans, grants and equity, including funds from high-profile venture capital investors such as Advanced Equities, Kleiner Perkins, NEA and A123. Fisker won a $528.7 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy back in Sept. 2009. The same program doled out funds to electric car maker Tesla Motors, which went public, and large automakers Ford Motor and Nissan North America. Fisker was one of the few startups, along with Tesla, to get funding from the program.