NHTSA Opens “Field Inquiry” Into Texas 2012 Fisker Karma Fire

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2012 Fisker Karma during road test, Los Angeles, Feb 2012

2012 Fisker Karma during road test, Los Angeles, Feb 2012

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Last week, we told you about a house fire in Texas on May 3 involving a 2012 Fisker Karma luxury Sedan, which fire investigators believed to be the cause of the blaze. 

Shortly after the story broke, Fisker Automotive released an official statement stating that it had “not ruled out possible fraud or malicious intent,” adding that the company would “not be commenting further” until all the facts in the case had been established. 

Now, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has sent a field investigation crew to Texas to study the blaze. 

Speaking in Washington today, NHTSA director of vehicle safety compliance Claude Harris confirmed the agency’s involvement in the fire investigation. 

“We are conducting an ongoing field inquiry for an EV incident in Texas,” he confirmed at a Transportation Department electric-vehicle safety forum. “We are still engaged in that activity, and no determination has been made at this time.”

After the forum, an NHTSA spokeswoman confirmed the incident Harris referred to did indeed involve the $106,000 plug-in hybrid. 

Since we reported the original blaze last week, the story surrounding the blaze and its possible cause has got rather ugly, with accusations flying back and forth between owner Jeremy Guttierez, Fisker automotive and even some third-party automotive consultants. 

Perhaps more concerning for Fisker right now however, is the potential press coverage the NHTSA’s involvement in the case is likely to bring. 

With Fisker already in hot political water after it laid off workers at its Delaware plant earlier this year -- not to mention being a victim of shoddy news reporting, we can’t help but wonder where this latest twist will lead. 

If last years’ Volt Crash Test fiasco is anything to go by, things could get tough for Fisker for the foreseeable future.


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Comments (5)
  1. “We are conducting an ongoing field inquiry for an EV incident in Texas,”

    This isn't an EV incident, it's a hybrid incident an electric car would never catch fire due to an over heated exhaust system in an engine compartment.

  2. True, but then you know something that they do not?

  3. Yes at the moment the official cause has yet to be determined, but there are a few articles that point at a likely suspect in the car.
    If the cause of the fire turns out to be something else then I apologize for my pervious comment.

  4. I think Nikki's worried tone is warranted. This sort of publicity isn't helpful for Fisker's future. Maybe that's why Fisker's initial hunch was malicious intent. Not everybody wants newcomers on the carmarket to succeed and the notion of DOE funding helping new companies to start up in the car market has no doubt caused some rage in certain circles. There is a reason I suppose that DOE funding under the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program has ground to a halt after just 1/4 of the funds reserved for it were spent and now it's time to go after the fruits it generated? I'm really curious what the NHTSA's investigation will reveal.

  5. Eventually things will get sorted out - the new media is in the business of "making events interesting or compelling." So why is anyone surprised when reporting distorts the events?

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