Round Two: Fisker Karma Goes Up in Flames in California
August 13, 2012 3:49 PM
Fisker is currently investigating the root cause
Yet another Fisker Karma
has gone up in smoke
, making this the second incident in just a four-month period.
A Fisker Karma driver from Woodside, California parked his hybrid at the grocery store last week, and after grabbing the items he needed, returned to the parking lot to find that his vehicle was on fire.
He called the manufacturer immediately, who then told him to call 911. The Woodside Fire Department arrived to put out the fire, saying there was considerable damage to the front left area of the car.
Fisker Automotive's Karma
is a plug-in hybrid luxury sports sedan that goes for about $102,000 and up.
This fire is the second occurrence this year. Back in May 2012, a Karma plug-in was held responsible for a house fire in Houston, Texas. Before that, Fisker and A123 Systems, which is the battery maker for Fisker's Karma,
recalled over 200 batteries for the Karma
. No fires had occurred at that point yet, but A123 Systems said that a poorly positioned hose clamp could potentially be the cause of such issues.
But the battery may not be the cause of the fire in this particular case (or in the Houston incident). According to Jon Bereisa, CEO of Auto Lectrification, who previously a chief engineer of General Motors' EV1 and a systems architect for the Chevrolet Volt, the problem with the Karma is likely the "poor packaging of the engine compartment."
How did he come to this conclusion? The battery in the garage fire in Houston was intact and unplugged. Rather, Bereisa believes that a cramped engine compartment and the exhaust routing caused the car to overheat.
"That engine is shoehorned into that bay, because they had to use a larger engine, because it was too heavy a car," said Bereisa. "As a result, there's no room for exhaust routing and heat shielding to route the heat away."
The exhaust in the Karma doesn't make its way out the rear like traditional cars. Instead, it is released in front of the doors. Mix that kind of heat with a coolant, fuel or oil leak, and you have a fire on your hands.
According to Fisker, the company is currently investigating the cause of the Woodside fire.
"We have confidence in the Fisker Karma," said Fisker. "Safety is our primary concern and our Fisker staff have been in contact with the customer and are investigating the cause. We are also employing an independent fire investigation representative to assist in the root cause analysis. A further statement will be issued once the root cause has been determined."
This looks like another possible recall ahead for Fisker, but for now, here's a video of the Woodside customer's Karma burning in the grocery store parking lot:
Updated @ 5:31pm EST
Fisker Automotive has responded to this story and indicated that
Jon Bereisa's comments regarding the Fisker's engine compartment are "untrue". The company provides
The Truth About Cars
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