Yesterday, we let you know that 16 Fisker Karmas went up in flames after they were submerged at a New Jersey port following Hurricane Sandy. We now have Fisker’s official announcement regarding these fires, and it’s actually a little better a situation than we had initially assumed.
According to the report from Fisker, a single Karma caught fire after saltwater left corrosive residue on the vehicle control unit. This component then shorted out and caused a fire. The heavy winds from the Hurricane then spread the flames to the other 16 Karmas parked near it. This means that the other 15 burned Karmas actually survived submersion without catching fire. To us, that’s actually pretty incredible.
Also being reported is that the Karma was not the only vehicle that burned after Sandy beat the hell out of the northeast, as several Toyota Priuses and even a few gasoline-powered cars joined in on the automotive BBQ. Fisker has also debunked the myth that there was an explosion from the burning Karmas and that the lithium ion batteries – one of the more scary parts of electric vehicles – were not a contributing factor in the fire.
Just like we said before, when you add water to electronics, bad things are bound to happen. It’s actually pretty incredible that just one Karma went up in flames as a direct result of being submerged. In case you are thinking Fisker may have “cooked the books” on this investigation, keep in mind that the NHTSA was involved in the investigation.
UPDATE 11/08/2012: After a crazy week at Fisker, our contact was finally able to get back to us and let us know that the Karmas damaged totaled 338 and Fisker is putting through an insurance claim for them. Also, the cars destroyed were simply dealership stock and were not pre-sold vehicles, so no customers will be out of a car. Additionally, the damaged Karmas will not affect Fisker’s normal business operations moving forward.
Fisker also provided us with their full press release regarding the situation.
Click past the jump to read the full presser.
gallery: Fisker Karma
Port Newark Incident – Fisker Automotive Follow-Up Statement
November 5, 2012
On October 30, following Superstorm Sandy, several electric hybrid and non-hybrid cars from a variety of manufacturers caught fire and were damaged in separate incidents after flood waters receded at Port Newark (NJ), including 16 award-wining Fisker Karmas. Port Newark is one of the largest vehicle handling facilities in the U.S., and many thousands of vehicles of many makes and models were severely damaged as a result of the unprecedented flooding.
After a thorough inspection witnessed by NHTSA representatives, Fisker engineers determined that the damage to the Karmas was the result of the cars being submerged under five to eight feet of seawater for several hours that left corrosive salt in a low-voltage Vehicle Control Unit in one Karma. The Vehicle Control Unit is a standard component found in many types of vehicles and is powered by a typical 12V car battery. This residual salt damage caused a short circuit, which led to a fire that heavy winds then spread to other Karmas parked nearby. There were no explosions as had been inaccurately reported. The Karma’s lithium-ion batteries were ruled out as a cause or contributing factor.
The Fisker Karma meets or exceeds all safety requirements for markets in North America, Europe and the Middle East. Fisker Automotive is the leading manufacturer of luxury Electric Vehicles with extended range and will continue to develop and market vehicles that deliver an unmatched combination of style, performance and economy.