After two short "we're looking into it" official statements (1, 2), Fisker Automotive has announced that it has completed a "detailed investigation" into the strange, spontaneous combustion of a Karma plug-in hybrid that happened in Woodside, CA last weekend. The result? A voluntary recall to fix the low-temperature cooling fan located in the left front of the Karma, in front of the wheel, that apparently has "an internal fault that caused it to fail, overheat and start a slow burning fire."

Fisker says the supplier is responsible and will work together with the unnamed company to fix the problem. Retailers will contact customers and "this recall campaign is not expected to have a material financial impact on Fisker." The fix entails a new cooling fan "that meets the required specifications" and a new, extra fuse "for added protection." Around 2,400 Karmas are affected by this recall.

As the latest statement makes clear, and as we expected, the parking-lot fire was not caused by the lithium-ion battery. Company co-founder Henrik Fisker said, "This incident resulted from a single, faulty component, not our unique EVer powertrain or the engineering of the Karma. As this situation demonstrates, Fisker Automotive is dedicated to doing whatever is necessary to address safety and quality concerns." You can read the entire statement below.

Fisker is also saying that there is no discernible connection between the Woodside fire and another fire involving a Karma that happened in Texas in May. Fisker spokesman Roger Ormisher told Bloomberg that, "The report for the Texas fire is not in the public domain and we do not have access to it. ... the real root cause [of the Texas fire] is unlikely to be determined."

The Karma has been recalled before, at the tail end of 2011, for problems with the battery pack, specifically the battery hose clamp. Some Karma battery packs also had some defective prismatic cells replaced by battery-maker A123 Systems.
Show full PR text
MEDIA STATEMENT -- Woodside, CA Incident ANAHEIM, CA -- August 18, 2012:

Fisker has completed a detailed investigation into the roadside fire involving a Fisker Karma sedan on August 10 in Woodside, CA.

The investigation conducted by Fisker engineers, working with an independent fire expert from Pacific Rim Investigative Services Group, has identified the root cause of the incident.

The investigation located the ignition source to the left front of the Karma, forward of the wheel, where the low temperature cooling fan is located. The final conclusion was that this sealed component had an internal fault that caused it to fail, overheat and start a slow burning fire.

Fisker has today voluntarily elected to conduct a recall with respect to this cooling fan unit. The company is working with the responsible supplier and this recall campaign is not expected to have a material financial impact on Fisker.

Fisker has already contacted its retailer network. Customers are expected to be contacted by retailers, ahead of their receiving formal notice from the company by mail, to have the cooling fan replaced with a unit that meets the required specifications. At the same time an additional fuse will be installed for added protection.

In their investigation, independent experts established that the incident was not caused by the Lithium-ion battery pack, new technology components, engine component packaging or unique exhaust routing of the Fisker Karma.

"We are committed to responding swiftly and decisively to events such as this to ensure total customer satisfaction," says Executive Chairman and Co-Founder, Henrik Fisker. "This incident resulted from a single, faulty component, not our unique EVer powertrain or the engineering of the Karma. As this situation demonstrates, Fisker Automotive is dedicated to doing whatever is necessary to address safety and quality concerns."

The owner of the car involved in the Woodside incident, Mr. Rudy Burger commented:

"I have been incredibly impressed with the way Fisker has handled this incident. I have personally started seven technology companies and know from direct experience that the US needs more innovative companies of this type, especially in the automobile sector.

"Fisker is a great company and one that I am personally planning to invest in. I look forward to getting behind the wheel of my next Fisker."


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 46 Comments
      Jonathan Wayne
      • 2 Years Ago
      So the $100,000 Fisker is mediocre and not up to par with a less than a handful of fires, but Ferrari and Lamborghini which cost 3 times or more per car and have been around for decades are fine even though they have at least 3 catch on fire a week, especially Ferrari? umm okay.
        michigan
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jonathan Wayne
        Since when is it fine for any car to catch on fire?
      Brodz
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm glad that Fisker was able to resolve this issue.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      BLACK GUY
      • 2 Years Ago
      This type of stuff is expected (not catching fire) when first years vehicles come on online. The best car to purchase is the last year of its life cycle before the new Gen.
        QCRamAir
        • 2 Years Ago
        @BLACK GUY
        Is that really true though? What can also be said about cars in the last year of their life cycle is that their build quality is subpar because the production line is moving on from said car to the all-new one, so attention and overall care isn't as focused on "yesterday's product" as it was when it was in its prime. Basically, regarding the car during its final year, many of the car's assemblers' "give a damns are busted." If a car has a 4-year life cycle, I'd feel most comfortable purchasing the model produced in its 3rd year.
          SatinSheetMetal
          • 2 Years Ago
          @QCRamAir
          Do we typically get 2 years notice that a model is due to be replaced?
      peakarach1
      • 2 Years Ago
      They should have name the car Good Karma.
      Stinkyboy
      • 2 Years Ago
      I wonder what Chinese company was responsible for the high quality fan? Ha Ha. they will soon shut down because they can't get something right like a cooling fan on a critical component. I see more recalls and failures of this lawn ornament. I hope the next one to burn is Beibers.... with hm in it. Ha Ha Ha!!!!!
        fmtkfutfo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Stinkyboy
        What makes you think it is a chinese company? how stinky your comments is without facts. you have to be a racists in your country.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Stinkyboy
        [blocked]
      QCRamAir
      • 2 Years Ago
      "Cooling fan responsible for fire." Oh, the irony.
        SatinSheetMetal
        • 2 Years Ago
        @QCRamAir
        You had one job!
        GoSpeedRacerGo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @QCRamAir
        The fix entails a new cooling fan "that meets the required specifications" and a new, extra fuse "for added protection." While their quick response was commendable, this fix doesn't make me feel better about Fisker's engineering competence.
      Alex Ellsworth
      • 2 Years Ago
      Mediocre product at a high price was pretty much exactly my reaction to the Fisker Karma. 52 mpg on electric with a range of 32 miles, then 20 mpg on gas alone after. For a starting price of $102,000 for the base model? Meanwhile, the Tesla Model S is cheaper, faster, and better handling. You get 160 mile range for $57K, 230 miles for $10K more, and 300 miles for $10K above that. Not only is it the first electric car with enough range to make it usable as a daily driver, it's also an amazing performer by all accounts. I have to say, that impresses me. And one thing that really ANNOYS me is when people use a veneer of green to sell stuff. The Fisker is pseudo-environmentalism, like living in a 5,000 square foot mansion with bamboo floors and low-flow showerheads and driving an Escalade hybrid. If you're saving fuel to save money, you wouldn't buy a Fisker. If you're saving fuel because you genuinely want to save the environment, you also wouldn't buy a Fisker - there are much more efficient and cost effective ways to do so.
        FreeThinker
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Alex Ellsworth
        Nice reply, ZenDriver. I couldn't agree more. Alex, fill in that chip on your shoulder.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Alex Ellsworth
        [blocked]
          jeffsun22
          • 2 Years Ago
          SVX do you know anyone at Fisker? Last time I checked they had 30x more engineers than 'stylists' Just tells me how much you actually know about cars. Why are you even on this site? Your comment just proves to me once again how ef*&$%6 ignorant you are....
        Gorgenapper
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Alex Ellsworth
        Your last paragraph should be up voted many times over. I see this all the time with companies and even supermarkets. They charge 5cts per plastic bag because the city (Toronto) required them to do so. The law/requirement has since been scrapped, to my knowledge and yet places like Loblaws still charge the 5cts fee. They even have the nerve to put a sign up saying that they're doing this for the good of the environment. BULLSH*T. You're doing it because it helps defray your costs under the pretense of environmentalism. Pure and simple.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Alex Ellsworth
        [blocked]
          Mark
          • 2 Years Ago
          LOL. Please get you numbers right before posting. Fisker produced more than 2000 but sold just over 1000 Karmas. Tesla delivers every Model S they can produces to customers and has 15000+ backlog orders. Even the Model X has thousands of pre-orders. Fisker = FAIL.
        ZenDriver
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Alex Ellsworth
        So you are very envious of people with more money than you. If someone who owns a company and/or makes a great deal of money, then that 5000 sqft mansion is helping to employ lots of people in many ways. There are far more
          ZenDriver
          • 2 Years Ago
          @ZenDriver
          ...less than 1000 sqft dwellings in the world that are far less efficient than that big house, leaving a much larger carbon footprint on the planet overall. If you wish to live a minimalist life, then that is your choice. Freedom allows for that. But that same freedom must allow for others to live as they so choose. If your boss is more affluent and chooses to live in a bigger house, then so be it. Don't begrudge them their choice. Specifically, you have no right to judge his or her decision. That only accentuates your own insecurity. So if he/she chooses to replace a Mercedes S550 with a new Fisker to get to work everyday, that's not your problem. You remind me of an old Chinese proverb: "Don't complain about the dust and leaves on your neighbors stoop. Just sweep your own." Live and let live, dear boy.
        QCRamAir
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Alex Ellsworth
        *applause* +1000.
        jeffsun22
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Alex Ellsworth
        Well If I really wanted to save the environment maybe I should not buy a car at all and just stop buying anything and maybe I should move out of my house and live in the woods. Each car has a target market segment and customer. Fisker has theirs and so do Tesla. Get OVER IT and GROW UP.
      Cruising
      • 2 Years Ago
      Once again it's a supplier issue not a company issue. Yes vehicles should not burn to the ground, however this shows the lack luster state of parts suppliers. Even the most expensive vehicles are prone to the same fate as many of our own cars from the large vehicle manufacturers that get recalled over fire risk. There needs to be more done to figure out where these part suppliers are building these components and of what quality because it could be your car next.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Cruising
        [blocked]
          • 2 Years Ago
          [blocked]
        michigan
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Cruising
        Whether it's a supplier issue or not, the car-buying public doesn't care. Fister is responsible to guarantee the quality of their cars. And if even the most expensive cars can have the same issues as more common cars that get recalled for fire risks, what's the point of owning them?
      ZenDriver
      • 2 Years Ago
      Good job Fisker for finding the root cause of the fire. Since only a percentage of those cooling fans would be faulty, finding that issue during pre-production testing would have been very difficult. Then again, you would have to work in new vehicle development with new suppliers and a new group of engineers to really comprehend that. That is what presents most bloggers here with the greatest challenge--wrapping their limited perspective around such a daunting endeavor.
      BMW ROCKS!
      • 2 Years Ago
      perfect car for those whose macmansion is under water - heck, might need two or three to get the job done!
      KAG
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sounds like they built a car that wasn't ready to be sold yet. Simple problems causing fires sounds like a simple thing to go wrong it shouldn't have happened.
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