Fisker Karma Fire Due To Faulty Cooling Fan, Recall Underway, Factory Says

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Screen capture from video by Aaron Wood of fire in 2012 Fisker Karma in Wooside, CA, August 2012

Screen capture from video by Aaron Wood of fire in 2012 Fisker Karma in Wooside, CA, August 2012

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Well, that was quick.

On Saturday, just eight days after a fire badly damaged a 2012 Fisker Karma, the company has completed its forensic investigation, announced the cause, and started a recall for the part in question.

Fisker concluded that the fire was caused by an internal fault in a sealed low-temperature cooling fan, located forward of the left-front wheel.

That component, the company says, failed, overheated, and started a slow fire that spread to other components in the range-extended electric luxury sedan.

Fisker will replace the cooling fan in all Karmas sold to date, and add a fuse for extra protection.

Karma owners can expect to be contacted by their dealers even before they receive the formal recall notice, Fisker said.

Unusually, the Fisker press release included a statement by Rudy Burger, the owner of the Karma in Woodside:

“I have been incredibly impressed with the way Fisker has handled this incident.

"I have personally started seven technology companies and know from direct experience that the U.S. needs more innovative companies of this type, especially in the automobile sector.

“Fisker is a great company and one that I am personally planning to invest in. I look forward to getting behind the wheel of my next Fisker.”

Henrik Fisker, CEO & founder, Fisker Automotive, at 2012 Fisker Karma event, Los Angeles, Feb 2012

Henrik Fisker, CEO & founder, Fisker Automotive, at 2012 Fisker Karma event, Los Angeles, Feb 2012

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Burger is a managing partner at venture capital firm Woodside Capital Partners, which is not known to be an investor in Fisker Automotive.

Jeremy Gutteriez, the owner of an earlier Karma that burned in Sugar Land, Texas--destroying the car and damaging the garage and house it was kept in--has been far been less conciliatory.

Fisker's statement reiterated that the recent Woodside fire was not caused by the Karma's lithium-ion battery pack (the subject of its own recall), any other electric-drive component, the engine packaging, or the exhaust routing--as it had said in a Monday statement following the Friday fire.

The tight routing of the exhaust system had been suggested as a possible cause for the Texas fire, and that theory came up again following the Woodside blaze.

It was perhaps unfortunate for Fisker that the fire occurred in Woodside, California, a lovely and very, very pricey residential community for Silicon Valley's success stories.

That location may have contributed to its being captured in photos and on video, spreading instantly and virally across the web--the second fire out of 1,000 Karmas sold thus far.

The investigation into the Woodside blaze was conducted by Fisker engineers, working with a fire investigator from Pacific Rim Investigative Service Group.

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