Investigators believe a garage fire that spread to a house in Sugar Land, Texas, was caused by the owner’s Fisker Karma, but have been unable to pinpoint the exact source. Then last week, ex-GM engineer Jon Bereisa told Automotive News that a design flaw with the car’s tight engine and exhaust packaging could be to blame.
Fisker, however, is standing by its plug-in hybrid sedan and has released a statement saying the Karma’s battery, engine and exhaust system passed rigorous tests and received the necessary certification before the car went on sale.
Fisker states that engine and exhaust packaging was done according to the appropriate standards, and heat protection sleeves were used in all high-heat zones. “Our technologies and engine design have been fully tested and certified at the highest level. It is irresponsible and ill-informed for technology pundits to suggest otherwise in order to secure media attention for unfounded claims,” Paul Boskovitch, Fisker Automotive’s director of powertrain and engineering, said in the statement.
The owner of the house told local fire officials that he smelled burning rubber when he pulled the new Karma into his garage. Shortly after, the car was on fire — starting a blaze in the garage that spread to the house. The Karma was a loss; so were a Mercedes SUV and Acura NSX in the garage.
Fisker, however, stated that the Karma involved in the fire wasn’t being charged at the time and that its lithium-ion battery “does not appear to have been a contributing factor in this incident.”
This isn’t the first time Fisker has been in the news regarding safety issues. In March, the automaker announced its battery supplier was replacing the batteries in all of its 2012 Karma sedans due to a manufacturing defect discovered by supplier A123 Systems. According to the supplier, the defect could result in battery underperformance and decreased durability.
As for the Texas garage fire, investigators and the automaker have yet to issue a final report about the exact cause of the fire. NHTSA is now investigating also.