A Texas fire official says a Fisker Karma plug-in car caught fire in a garage last week, igniting a blaze that spread to the house, according to a report by Autoweek magazine.
The fire destroyed the Karma and damaged the home and a Mercedes-Benz SUV and Acura NSX also in the garage, Fort Bend County chief fire investigator Robert Baker told Autoweek. He said the new Karma “was the origin of the fire, but what exactly caused that we don’t know at this time.”
According to the report, the Karma car, which was not plugged in, caught fire less than three minutes after being driven into the garage and that the battery remains intact. Damage to the battery was blamed for Chevrolet Volt fires in government testing last year. The Karma, like the Volt, is an extended range plug-in car that also has a gasoline engine.
Autoweek reported that Fisker has engineers on the scene and gave the magazine a statement that said, in part: “The cause of the fire is not yet known and is being investigated.” Fisker added that “we have not ruled out possible fraud or malicious intent” and cited fire hazards in the garage.
Automotive News has found a particularly credible one in Jon Bereisa, CEO of Auto Lectrification and the chief engineer of the General Motors EV1 and systems architect for the Chevrolet Volt. According to Bereisa, the poor packaging of the Karma’s internal combustion engine is what likely caused the fire.
“The engine is shoehorned into that bay, because they had to use a larger engine, because it was too heavy a car,” Bereisa told AN. “As a result, there’s no room for exhaust routing and heat shielding to route the heat away.”