The engineers of Fisker Automotive engineers have began to study and test a Karma plug-in hybrid that burst into flames last Friday in a parking lot in Woodside, Calif. Fisker said that so far, they have ruled out the possibility that the fire is because of issues with the lithium-ion battery pack, new technology parts or exhaust routing.
This is the second time within the last four months that Fisker has opened an investigation over a Karma car catching fire. Last May, a Karma vehicle caught fire while it was unplugged in a garage in Sugar Land, Texas. Fisker said that the cause of this fire is still unknown. No injuries were reported in the Calif. incident.
Fisker said that the fire started from outside the engine compartment. It also said that from now on, the efforts to examine the fire will be focused on the area “forward of the driver's side front tire," which is the specific area of origin. Fisker is working with the investigators from Pacific Rim Investigative Services Group, a company owned and operated by former fire, insurance and police investigators.
Lynda Tran, a spokeswoman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in Washington, said that the agency is aware of the Karma fire in California. She said that the NHTSA will assess the information gathered to find out if safety was compromised and if so, the agency would then have to do more.
It’s unfortunate that this fire coincides with Fisker’s efforts to boost its finances and sales after losing access in 2011 to a part of the $529 million low-interest loan given by the U.S. Energy Department in 2009. Last February, Fisker stopped the production at a Wilmington, Del., factory, which was supposed to be where a second car model would have been built.