NHTSA investigating Fisker Karma garage fire

Article by Christian Andrei, on May 20, 2012

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is conducting an investigation to determine the exact cause of a garage fire in Sugar Land, Texas. A $103,000 Karma plug-in electric vehicle from Fisker Automotive Inc. was one of the vehicles destroyed by the fire. The incident was first reported last week by Autoweek, an affiliate of Automotive News.

Claude Harris, NHTSA’s director of vehicle safety compliance, said during a Transportation Department electric-vehicle safety forum in Washington that the company is conducting a field inquiry for an incident in Texas. Confirmation that it was this particular case was made by agency spokeswoman Lynda Tran.

Fisker revealed via a statement that it knew about the field inquiry but that it believes that these field inquiries are “routine.” Fisker said that the agency is also examining other vehicles that are part of the fire too. The Fisker Karma’s lithium-ion battery was fully intact after the fire. A test determined that it is in full working condition. It said that for now, the precise ignition source and cause of the garage fire are not known yet.

Fisker is cooperating with NHTSA and insurance adjusters so that they would find the exact cause. The U.S. Energy Department has given loans to Fisker amounting to $529 million for the development of the Karma and of the Atlantic (a proposed second model). Based in Anaheim, Calif., Fisker has a credit line that was frozen last year after it found that it failed to meet several milestones related to the Karma.

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