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Fisker Production Halted, Pending The Sale Of A123 Systems' Assets


2012 Fisker Karma during road test, Los Angeles, Feb 2012

2012 Fisker Karma during road test, Los Angeles, Feb 2012

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Last October, extended-range electric automaker Fisker’s sole battery supplier, A123 Systems, filed for bankruptcy. That’s left the struggling startup without a source of lithium-ion batteries, forcing Fisker to suspend production of its Karma sedan.

As Bloomberg reports, Fisker Karma assembly was stopped last month, and won’t resume until a buyer is found for the assets of A123 Systems. Leading candidates include U.S.-based Johnson Controls and China’s Wanxiang Group.

In the words of Fisker CEO Tony Posawatz, “Because we have no batteries, there’s no production right now. Inventory is starting to get a little low.”

Fisker’s inventory level was already impacted by Hurricane Sandy, which destroyed 16  Karma sedans parked at Port Newark, New Jersey, awaiting shipment to dealers. A fire, caused by corrosive residue from seawater, was traced back to one car’s low-voltage Vehicle Control Unit. Proximity to the other cars allowed the fire to easily spread.

Posawatz is optimistic that Karma production can be restarted quickly, once a buyer for A123 Systems’ assets is found. The outcome of the bankruptcy auction will be known by the middle of next month, but it’s not clear how soon the new owners will be able to deliver the needed lithium-ion cells.

Finding another battery source isn’t an option, as Posawatz explained that the evaluation process for an alternative supplier can take up to a year. “I wish this was more of a ‘plug-and-play’ situation, but that’s not the case,” Posawatz said.

New hire Joel Ewanick, the former head of GM’s marketing, certainly has his work cut out for him as Fisker’s interim chief commercial officer. It’s Ewanick’s job to pump up sales, and it’s difficult to do that with inventory running low and no firm date for when production will restart.
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