Suffice it to say it hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing for Fisker Automotive. On top of production delays, difficulty securing government loans, and a very embarrassing public breakdown of Consumer Reports Karma during stress tests, the California start-up has been forced to deflect a swarm of negativity surrounding its extended-range plug-in hybrid. Adding to the company’s automotive woes was last week’s literal meltdown in Sugar Land, Texas where a garage fire lead to the destruction of a Fisker Karma and two other cars.
Initial reports of the incident from the local fire inspector indicated that the fire’s origin did, indeed, come from the $100,000 Fisker Karma, but that the cause of the fire remained elusive. Later last week, EV expert Jon Bereisa suggested to Automotive News that the cause of fire was likely due to the Karma’s cramped engine-bay, which could have created the conditions that led to the blaze.
Bereisa, who was the former chief engineer of the now defunct GM EV1, systems architect of the Chevrolet Volt, and current CEO of Auto Letrification, commented on what he perceived to be a poor setup of the Karma’s engine cooling system after “nosing around the engine compartment,” stating: “That engine is shoehorned into that bay, because they had to use a larger engine, because it was too heavy a car. As a result there’s no room for exhaust routing and heat-shielding to route the heat away.”
But according to Fisker, Bereisa’s statements are groundless. The company has also gone on to refute any speculation suggesting that the thermal management of the Karma is anything but adequate. Fisker representatives state that the plug-in hybrid was designed from the ground up to diffuse heat in hot-weather and high load conditions.
In a statement, Fisker Automotive director of powertrain, Paul Boskovitch, stressed to Automotive News that the technology found inside the Karma, including engine design, have been fully tested and “certified at the highest level,” going so far as to admonish comments from technology pundits like Bereisa as “irresponsible and ill-informed.”
For now we don’t know exactly what caused the fire or ensuing damage, but Fisker has come out batteries a-blazin’ (forgive the pun) to defend itself from what it feels is misleading accusations of inadequacy of any components relating to the Karma. But with these incidents continuously piling up, one thing is for certain: Fisker’s inaugural outing just can’t catch a break. Let’s just hope the Fisker Atlantic, the company’s next automotive offering, isn’t plagued with even a fraction of the issues surrounding its big brother.