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DiCaprio, Bieber caught up in Fisker Karma hybrid recall

August 20, 2012|By Jerry Hirsch
  • Justin Bieber's wheels: the Fisker Karma.
Justin Bieber's wheels: the Fisker Karma. ((David Undercoffler / Los…)

Leonardo DiCaprio and Justin Bieber will have to take their megabucks cars back to the shop after luxury hybrid maker Fisker Automotive announced a recall.

The celebrities are among the high-profile drivers of Fisker’s $100,000 Karma, a speed demon of a car that turns out to be burning more than rubber.

Fisker is recalling all 2,000 of the just introduced plug-in hybrids because a small cooling fan caused a fire in a Karma in a Woodside, Calif., parking lot.

No one was hurt in the incident.

Earlier this year, a second Karma was consumed in a fire in Texas, but Fisker has not determined the cause of that fire.

An investigation of the Woodside fire by Pacific Rim Investigative Services Group, a fire-analysis company, found that the blaze had nothing to do with the car’s lithium-ion battery pack, according to Fisker.

The automotive industry and safety experts have closely watched the battery packs on electric cars and plug-in hybrids as a potential source for fires. But that has not turned out to be a problem in these new-technology vehicles.

Fisker said it will contact Karma owners and arrange to replace the cooling fan. Technicians also will install an additional fuse, which Fisker said will provide added protection.

 The recall is another setback for Fisker, which last week named its third chief executive in a year. The company has been wracked recently by stalled model development, recalls, missed deadlines and employee layoffs.

Fisker said its new chief executive will be Tony Posawatz. who helped lead development of Chevrolet’s Volt plug-in hybrid for six years, serving as vehicle line director before retiring from General Motors in July.

Posawatz succeeds Tom LaSorda, a former Chrysler executive who in February took over the CEO role from company co-founder Henrik Fisker.

The company also is working to plug holes from the $529-million government loan that was partially withheld earlier this year after the company lagged on Karma development.

Last week, Reuters reported that the automaker is working to raise about $150 million in additional funds so that it can launch a  less pricey second model. Most of the work on that car stopped when the government refused to release more loan money to Fisker.

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