Fisker launching investigation into Woodside, CA fire incident, says batteries not to blame

Adam Morath
It's safe to say that, since our episode featuring Fisker's Karma EREV aired earlier this spring, the company has experienced some bad kar... er, we'll go with luck. Just after our test drive of the plug-in luxury sports car went off without incident, Consumer Reports said that their privately owned Fisker Karma broke down during a fleet arrival inspection.

A few months later came reports out of Texas of a garage fire sparked by a Karma, according to officials. Although, Fisker said they could not rule out "possible fraud or malicious intent" in a statement provided to Autoweek.

With the cause of the Texas blaze still apparently unknown, Fisker has a new fire to put out. This time, in California.

Karma owner Rudy Burger found his car engulfed in flames in the parking lot of a Woodside, CA grocery store after returning from shopping. The car was not being charged at the time and no injuries were reported.

In an official statement, Fisker claims that safety remains the company's "primary concern" and that an investigation into the Woodside, CA incident would be assisted by an "independent fire expert." Today, the company released initial findings that conclude, thus far, that the li-ion battery pack, exhaust routing or "new technology components" were not the cause of the fire.

Further investigation into both incidents is needed, but these vehicle fires are sure to spell more controversy for Fisker, and plug-in powertrains in general. Hopefully inquiries will lead to safer EVs for all, rather than widespread plug-in paranoia.

Update via Autoblog: 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."


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