Fisker probing Karma fire; battery not cause

Mon Aug 13, 2012 8:58pm IST

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Aug 13 (Reuters) - Fisker Automotive engineers have started to examine and test a Karma plug-in hybrid that burst into flames in a parking lot in Woodside, California, on Friday.

So far, the evidence suggests that fire was not caused by problems with the vehicle's lithium-ion battery pack, new technology components or exhaust routing, Fisker said on Monday.

The Karma, which carries a price tag of more than $100,000, was not charging at the time, and there were no injuries. The fire began outside the engine compartment.

"Continued investigative efforts will be primarily focused within the specific area of origin, located forward of the driver's side front tire," Fisker said in a statement.

Engineers are working with investigators from Pacific Rim Investigative Services Group, a company that is owned and operated by former fire, insurance and police investigators, according to its website.

This is the second time a Fisker Karma has caught on fire in four months. In early May, a Karma was destroyed in a garage fire in Sugar Land, Texas.

That vehicle was not plugged in at the time, and the cause of the fire is still unknown, Fisker said.

The reliability of the Karma has been called into question this year after a spate of high-profile battery problems. No fires or injuries have been tied to the Karma battery, which is built by A123 Systems Inc.

In March, a Karma battery failed during a test conducted by Consumer Reports magazine. Fisker recalled 239 Karma cars in December to fix a battery defect that raised the risk of a fire.

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