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Fisker Q&A reveals other owners face Karma challenges, solutions are promised

Consumer Reports News: April 03, 2012 11:08 AM

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Last week, Fisker held an online townhall meeting for Karma owners to address potential questions and concerns. As a Karma owner, we were invited to this digital meeting and later received the minutes that included several questions and answers related to our own documented experiences with the car. With this, and our previous report highlighting comments posted online by other owners, it is clear that we are not alone in encountering the challenges in being an early adopter.

Fisker had previously announced that is was working with supplier A123 Systems on a battery recall, related to our own problems. However, we have experienced several other problems since our Karma was repaired, seemingly unrelated to the battery pack. Needless to say, we found the FAQ interesting. Select highlights are shared below:

Explain the Battery problem.
Fisker's high voltage battery supplier, A123 Systems, discovered a manufacturing defect in some prismatic cells made in its Livonia, Michigan facility that could result in battery underperformance and decreased durability. As a result, A123 has agreed to replace all impacted battery modules for all its vehicle manufacturer customers, including the battery packs that power the Fisker Karma.

Are all Karmas vulnerable to the A123 defect or just specific VIN ranges?
As stated, only the batteries manufactured in A123's Livonia, Michigan facility are affected. Battery modules and packs manufactured in their other facilities are not affected. To date, only about 1% of all 2012 Model Year Karmas have experienced a problem related to this battery issue. Nonetheless, all Livonia-built batteries will be replaced. The battery replacement should be completed by the end of this year.

Explain what we will see in the unlikely event the battery defect occurs.
Karmas that are affected by this defect will eventually see a Red Triangular Battery error light that will appear on the instrument cluster. If this error light appears, please proceed to your destination. When the Karma is shifted out of drive (into park or neutral) or turned off, it will not shift into drive or restart. This is to protect other components and avoid further damage to the battery. The Karma will then need to be transported to an authorized retailer where the battery components will be replaced.

Why does the Check Engine Light come on?
6.15 Software will address some Check Engine lights which were a result of calibration tolerances. It is important to note that the sources of all Check Engine lights are not the same reason. A flashing Check Engine light indicates a misfire condition. The vehicle should never be driven while the Check Engine light is flashing. A steady Check Engine light indicates a fault has been detected and should be investigated and addressed.

How is the PRNDL (Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive, Low) Error Fixed?
Some "false" Check Engine lights, including a PRNDL fault, can be caused by improperly connecting the charger to the vehicle. We are currently working on the charging logic to permanently address this issue. However, we have updated all convenience chargers with a Charging Infotag showing the order of connection.

For Charging: Wall First, Karma Second
Unplug: Karma First, Wall Second

Interrupting the charging cycle or reversing the connection order will turn on the Check
Engine light until we correct this issue.

When is 6.15 Software Update being released?
Our target Date of Release to our Retailers is Friday, April 6th. We are in the process of validating the software and will only release once validation is complete.

What does the 6.15 software fix on my Karma?
The latest list of improvements was presented during the broadcast. There are several issues, which are fixed permanently while other issues are improved but will require more time to validate.

Issues Fixed:

  • Fuel Gauge or Instruments intermittently show 0

  • Bluetooth causes drain to 12V battery

  • Reverse camera causes blue screen

  • Parking Sensor continuously chimes

  • Intermittent Tire Pressure warning lights

  • Key FOBs not recognized

Issues Improved:
  • Navigation errors and freezing

  • USB functionality now available (Bluetooth audio connectivity still being tested)

  • Mirror folding mechanism improved

  • HVAC temperature controls

  • Voice recognition

  • Radio preset storing

We look forward to updating the software in our Karma and hope it does address some of the problems that have plagued our car, ultimately slowing the break-in period ahead of formal testing.

Fisker to replace Karma's drive battery
First drive video: 2012 Fisker Karma
Consumer Reports is not the only Fisker owner to experience bad Karma
It's back: Our Fisker Karma returns from the dealership with a new battery pack
Five questions with Henrik Fisker, father of the $100,000 Karma plug-in hybrid
Bad Karma: Our Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid breaks down

Jeff Bartlett

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