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Fisker Karma owner returns from grocery run to find hybrid EV on fire

Joe Pollicino
08.12.12
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Fisker Automotive can't seem to catch break -- because its Karma hybrid EV sedan has yet again become too hot. Similar to an incident last spring that left a model burnt to near smithereens and damaged its owner's house, the Karma above caught fire in a Woodside, CA parking lot while powered off. Jalopnik was the first to get word of the incident, noting that the damage remained reserved to the front left of the vehicle, near where an exhaust is located. As the story goes, the owner found the vehicle emitting smoke after returning from a grocery run, prompting a call to Fisker and then the local fire department, which arrived as it was already engulfed in flames. In a statement to Wired's Autopia, Fisker has been vehement to note that the damage appears to be far from where the car's battery and sensitive electrical components are located, and that it wasn't plugged in for a charge -- furthermore, it's already had correspondence with the owner and is actively investigating the matter with plans to issue an update when there are findings to share.

All that said, it remains to be seen whether the Karma's battery system, supplied by A123 Systems (and the focus of previous recalls), had any role in igniting the car. Thankfully there were no reports of injuries from the incident, but as you can tell from the photo, the car was essentially totaled. You'll find a video of the Karma in flames being quelled by firefighters after the break, along with the official statement by Fisker given to Autopia.

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Fisker Automotive can confirm that one of its Karma models was involved in a vehicle fire during a roadside incident in Woodside, California. No injuries were reported; the vehicle was parked; and the fire was extinguished safely by the emergency services. Fisker understands damage was limited to the driver's side front corner of the car, away from the lithium ion battery and electric motors. The car was not being charged at the time.

We have more than 1,000 Karmas on the road with a cumulative 2 million miles on them. There are more than 185,000 highway vehicle fires in the US every year. In an electric vehicle, immediate suspicion is focused on the battery and high voltage components. The location of the damage to the vehicle in this incident appears to rule out that suspicion. Fisker has not had any battery or high voltage fire incidents with any of its vehicles.

Safety remains our primary concern at Fisker, and is integral to the design, engineering and technology of the Karma, a model in which we have absolute confidence. Fisker staff have been in contact with the customer and are investigating the cause of this incident. We are also employing an independent fire expert to assist the investigation. A further statement will be issued once the investigation has been completed and the cause determined."

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