Fisker Karma garage fire was caused by engine packaging, not batteries

Article by Christian A., on May 11, 2012

A Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid made headlines last week when it was linked to a garage fire in suburban Houston. However, the company was quick to deny that the battery was the cause since it had stayed intact and was unplugged. It’s likely that the culprit is the excess heat as a result of poor packaging in the engine compartment and exhaust routing.

Jon Bereisa, CEO of consultancy Auto Lectrification, said that a fire can be created when these conditions occur with a fluid leak. Bereisa served as the chief engineer of General Motors' EV1 and also functioned as the systems architect for the Chevrolet Volt.

This makes him very qualified to deal with these complicated problems. Bereisa has driven the Karma and has examined how its elements worked. He said that he became instantly alarmed when he saw the cramped engine compartment of his test car.

When interviewed, Bereisa said that this engine is “shoehorned into that bay” since they had to utilize a bigger engine and it was too heavy a car. He said that there’s no space for exhaust routing and heat shielding to direct the heat away.

He also said that the Karma is “using the hell out of that motor-generator." A "thermal condition" would then take place under the hood or along the closely packed exhaust routing path.

With this heat level, leaking oil, fuel or coolant could raise the risk of fire. Glycol, which is a major ingredient in the coolant, is flammable by itself. Jeremy Gutierrez, who owned the Fisker Karma, said that when the fire began, he smelled rubber, according to a report by Autoweek, an affiliate of Automotive News.

Based in California, automaker Fisker Automotive recently revealed what may be the first genuine Electric Vehicle in the world that offers extended range (EVer), the Fisker Karma.

Not only that, with this latest offering, the brand also hopes to show everyone the possibilities that the automotive industry can offer. Using a military stealth vehicle as an inspiration, the Karma is fitted with the patented EVer powertrain which allows it to go from standstill to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. Despite this performance, fuel efficiency is estimated at 100 mpg with CO2 emissions of 83 g/km, based on real-world driving on a yearly basis.

The electric power on the Karma is courtesy of the rechargeable lithium-ion battery which allows the Karma to go as far as 50 miles (80 km). Should the battery be drained, the system immediately shifts to the generator which can offer an output of 175 kW. This generator gets its power from the turbocharged 2.0-liter direct-injection gas-powered engine. This gives the four-seat four-door model an extra range amounting to 250 miles (403 km).

This means that total range offered by the powertrain is 300 miles (483 km). By using an elegant and eye-catching design combined with high performance that has excellent fuel efficiency and zero emissions, the new Karma is the best example with regards to the commitment of Fisker in coming up with models that offer Uncompromised Responsible Luxury and Pure Driving Passion.

For those not familiar, Karma is a Hindi word which, loosely translated, means that good deeds will always be rewarded. With better fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions, the Karma shows a capability that many standard luxury vehicles today have trouble reaching. This is indeed a vehicle that customers can enjoy driving with its performance and style while remaining to be friendly to the environment.

The best way to describe the Fisker Karma is that it is a new car fitted with the best and newest technology but made by an all-new automaker. Projected to arrive at different showrooms by summer, the Karma is able to set new standards when it comes to time-to-market considering that it was only in 2008 when it was first revealed as a concept and it later led to the creation of the Premium Luxury EV class.

Topics: fisker, fisker karma

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