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Fisker Karma production halted by battery supplier's bankruptcy

By Car_and_Driver Dec 3, 2012 8:36AM

According to Tony Posawatz, chief executive officer of Fisker Automotive, production of the Karma plug-in hybrid has been put on hold for about a month due to the bankruptcy of battery supplier of A123 Systems and the resultant low inventory of battery packs.

(Other sources tell us that the production freeze has been in place since August, and was initially or at least partially caused by either low demand or running model changes.)

Widely reported by Bloomberg, Reuters, and others as having enough batteries on hand for owner replacements, the California-based auto manufacturer confirmed to Car and Driver on Friday that they have enough spare battery assemblies in reserve to “get us into the first quarter of 2013.”

The Michigan facility where the former A123 assembled the lithium-ion batteries for Fisker is set for a December 6 auction, at which point the manufacture hopes to gain a clearer picture of its supply plans. Heavy hitters Johnson Controls and China-based Wanziang Group are expected to be among the bidders, as well as Japan’s NEC and Siemens AG of Germany.

Fisker told us that it had no interest in submitting a bid, and their main concern is that “the best group for the job gets control of the company, and that they maintain the pricing and quality we expect of them.” As A123 was a recipient of federal funding earmarked for creating an advanced vehicle-manufacturing base in the U.S., the company cannot be sold without the consent of the U.S. government.

Further complicating matters, the batteries manufactured by A123 for Fisker were subject to a recall earlier this year, just one of many PR hits the company has taken in trying to get the Karma off the ground.

-- Andrew Wendler

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