A recent garage fire incident in Sugar Land, Texas, that damaged a Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid unit and two other vehicles has sparked investigations on the hybrid's battery. The local fire inspector revealed to Autoweek that the incident began in the Karma. However, he stated that the exact cause was unknown.
In recent developments, Fisker Automotive has refuted electric car specialist Jon Bereisa's theory that suggested the restricted engine-bay packaging of the Karma could have developed conditions that resulted to the fire. The automaker asserted that their engine design and technologies have undergone and passed rigid safety tests.
Specifically, Bereisa pointed out that the compact engine compartment packaging could create a "thermal condition." This could possible make the vehicle incapable of diffusing heat away from the exhaust system and engine bay.
Bereisa is currently the chief executive officer of Auto Letrification LLC. He was a former chief engineer of the GM EV1 as well as the systems architect of the Chevrolet Volt. In a statement with Automotive News, Fisker stated that the Karma plug-in hybrid's thermal management sufficiently diffuses heat in high-load and hot-weather situations.
The automaker asserted that the Karma passed safety certification after running through "extreme testing" which involved on-the-road tests in extreme climate conditions and laboratory simulations of thermal incidents.
There were no "incidents of any kind" that involved engine systems, the company disclosed. Fisker's director of powertrain, Paul Boskovitch, affirmed that their engine design and technologies have been "fully tested and certified at the highest level." He added that it is "irresponsible and ill-informed" for technology specialists to "suggest otherwise in order to secure media attention for unfounded claims."