NHTSA investigating Fisker Karma garage fire

Article by Christian A., 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.

The four-seat Fisker Karma combines a striking and elegant design with superior performance, ultra-low fuel usage, and zero CO2 emissions on demand. It embodies Fisker’s commitment to create Uncompromised Responsible Luxury cars that also deliver pure driving passion.

This car equipped with all-new technology will be arriving in showrooms this summer and will be setting a new time-to-market benchmark after it was unveiled in 2008 as a concept and creating a new segment: Premium Luxury EV segment.

Karma is equipped with a proprietary EVer powertrain, which took inspiration from a military stealth vehicle. The Fisker Karma is able to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in merely 5.9 seconds, at the same time achieve annual fuel consumption levels of more than a hundred miles per gallon and emissions of 83 g/km CO2 in real-world driving.

Moreover, the Karma can run exclusively on electric power, which is supplied by a lithium-ion battery. With this battery, the car can run for up to 80 km or 50 miles. When the battery needs recharging, the car’s 175 kW generator, which is driven by a 2-liter, direct-injection, turbocharged gas engine, extends its range for 403 km or 250 miles. The Karma's overall range between recharge/refuel reaches 300 miles.

Fisker's Karma sells for $95,900 (U.S. Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price) before a $7,500-federal tax incentive. In Europe, its suggested retail price is €85,500. The world-class Karma will be as competitive as more conventional luxury sedans like BMW’s 750i AcitveHybrid, Porsche’s Panamera S, Audi’s A8 TDI, and Mercedes-Benz’s S400 Hybrid. Additionally, Karma also offers great value over super sedans like the $200,000 Aston Martin Rapide and the $120,000 Maserati Quattroporte.

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