By on August 19, 2012

Fisker concluded its investigation into the fire that consumed one of their Karmas in Woodside, CA. According to a Fisker statement, neither the Lithium-ion battery pack, nor “new technology components, engine component packaging or unique exhaust routing of the Fisker Karma” were responsible for the conflagration. Rather, it was a lowly cooling fan, that, well, overheated. In the guessing game for the fire’s cause, TTAC’s independent accident investigator Ronnie Schreiber came closest when he suspected a low voltage unit.

A recall of approximately 2,400 Fisker Karma has been initiated.

Fisker statement follows in full length:

“Fisker has completed a detailed investigation into the roadside fire involving a Fisker Karma sedan on August 10 in Woodside, CA.

The investigation conducted by Fisker engineers, working with an independent fire expert from Pacific Rim Investigative Services Group, has identified the root cause of the incident.

The investigation located the ignition source to the left front of the Karma, forward of the wheel, where the low temperature cooling fan is located. The final conclusion was that this sealed component had an internal fault that caused it to fail, overheat and start a slow burning fire.

Fisker has today voluntarily elected to conduct a recall with respect to this cooling fan unit. The company is working with the responsible supplier and this recall campaign is not expected to have a material financial impact on Fisker.

Fisker has already contacted its retailer network. Customers are expected to be contacted by retailers, ahead of their receiving formal notice from the company by mail, to have the cooling fan replaced with a unit that meets the required specifications. At the same time an additional fuse will be installed for added protection.

In their investigation, independent experts established that the incident was not caused by the Lithium-ion battery pack, new technology components, engine component packaging or unique exhaust routing of the Fisker Karma.

“We are committed to responding swiftly and decisively to events such as this to ensure total customer satisfaction,” says Executive Chairman and Co-Founder, Henrik Fisker. “This incident resulted from a single, faulty component, not our unique EVer powertrain or the engineering of the Karma. As this situation demonstrates, Fisker Automotive is dedicated to doing whatever is necessary to address safety and quality concerns.”

The owner of the car involved in the Woodside incident, Mr. Rudy Burger commented:

“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 US 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.”

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

23 Comments on “Fisker: Overheating Cooling Fan Resposible For Fire...”


  • avatar
    Ron B.

    They will hasve to offload..sorry..Sell another 2400 fiskers to counteract the carboniforous foot print they have created with that fire. that would be the Kats fiskers…’

  • avatar
    Luke42

    So they didn’t use proper fuses on the 12V system…. That’s not reassuring in a car that needed a team of EE’s to build. You’d hope for more attention to detail on such a high end car.

    Fortunately, there are several other EV/PHEV vendors out there! Tesla, Nissan, Chevy, and Toyota are all looking pretty good right about now.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      I’m sure the circuit for the fan is already fused but for multiple loads. If I had to guess (I’m a single EE, not a “team”) is that for some reason (bad bearing, distortion of the support of the fan, etc) caused the fan to slow and stall. Don’t know how big the fan is, but a stalled motor draws more current than a spinning one and the assembly began to overheat. It seems the fan overheated to the point of igniting the fan materials or something surrounding it. Clearly the stalled motor’s current draw was less than that of the overall circuit fuse so it did not blow. I would assume they added a smaller fuse in series to the fan itself and sized it so that the fan stall draw is appropriately matched to the new fuse. At least with the limited real data provided that seems the most logical…

      • 0 avatar
        daveainchina

        and they probably did it with an inline fuse or more likely a fuseable link specific to that cooling fan. I wonder how many other cooling fans like that one there are on the car? Are they all being fixed or just the one?

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    Fisker statement follows in full length:

    Fisker has completed extensive testing into the road worthiness of the Fisker Karma sedan, and it’s now pronounced “ready for sale, ready to drive, ready to park in your home’s garage,” to the general public, on January 1, in Woodside, CA.

    The testing conducted by Fisker engineers validates “all’s well” with the complicated, expensive toy for the rich. “Not a single extra 50 cent fuse is needed to go into production,” a micromanaged Fisker engineer said at the five-minute-drive press event. (Lobster was for lunch.)

    “We are committed to responding swiftly and decisively to people waving suitcases of cash at us to buy cars,” says tanned, Executive Chairman and Co-Founder, Henrik Fisker. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to spend a day on my yacht with my cellphone off.”

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    “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.”

    Translation: I already have a metric ton of Woodside’s money in Fisker’s toilet and I want to cultivate other idiots to ‘invest’ as I divest my investors of their uncomfortable position.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I’m sure JC Whitney has an improved version of that cooling fan available right now.

  • avatar
    alan996

    I would have to ask is:
    “overheated cooling fan” an oxymoron? If so is there a paradox somewhere? Perhaps it is the idea of spending $50,000 on an automobile in order to save $30,000 in fuel expense.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Didn’t other car makers get cooling fans figured out, like decades ago? No stars for the JD Power survey?

    • 0 avatar
      C170guy

      At one point they were all mechanically driven fans, Then for a while there were combination systems with one of each, and now they are generally electric, and sometimes dual electric (two of them). Even more, some of the newest ones have multi/variable speed multi fan setups for specific circumstances. I have seen dual two stage fans, and then dual split stage fans, where one fan has high and low and the other is high only. -It has become a lot more complicated than just a belt spinning a fan. Some of the exotics have different fans in different places for different things.

      A few European/exotics even run them after the car is off, too for a while. (Water pump isn’t turning? But we can’t let hot liquid just sit there in the radiator -like it is in the block, can we? Can we? Hmm. Imagine if it were to catch fire in a garage?)

      A bum fan is the last thing I would have imagined, but on the other hand, I did lay out how something like this was possible in commentary on another article on this car. Still not sure if I believe it.

      • 0 avatar
        Geekcarlover

        “European/Exotics”? That was a feature in our 82 Aries K. Apparently a new thing then, because my mom or I were constantly being chased down by well meaning people to warn us our engine was still on.

  • avatar

    I was having an argument over how “inefficient and uneconomical” I felt the Tesla Model S was and I trolled someone by saying “these cars burst into flames”

    It’s easy to see why after having borrowed a Karma to make a video/review about it.

    I DO NOT TRUST a car that has to turn itself on (keep itself on) to cool itself down. I knew as soon as I heard about this story that either the battery itself exploded, or something necessary for the battery did – meanwhile, everyone wanted to blame the gasoline engine.

    FACE IT: with the exception of poorly connected or haphazardly connected I.C. engines, regular I.C.E cars do not simply immolate anymore. quality control is much, much higher across the board than it used to be.

    Electric cars are all inherently problematic because they blend two different problems: unreliable batteries and unreliable computer systems that must monitor those unreliable batteries 24/7. A single computer failure means the difference between a car breaking down on the road and a car exploding.

    I also don’t like traditional systems in I.C.E cars being replaced that have to do with mechanics. Push button starters, transmissions like the one in the A8 and Chrysler 300, and drive by wire throttles. They can keep em!

    • 0 avatar
      Georgewilliamherbert

      “I DO NOT TRUST a car that has to turn itself on (keep itself on) to cool itself down. I knew as soon as I heard about this story that either the battery itself exploded, or something necessary for the battery did – meanwhile, everyone wanted to blame the gasoline engine.”

      I don’t recall owning a car that wouldn’t run an electric cooling fan after I got out and removed the key, it it was hot enough. My parents did, but all the ones with electric cooling fans I’ve had did some variation on that.

      Unless you disconnect the battery, modern cars are “on”, even if the ignition is off. So are your TV at home, computers, etc. If this makes you uncomfortable…

      • 0 avatar

        With the exception of my S550, I’ve never had a car that had to cool itself down when the key was removed. The push button start cars sometimes do it, but the older cars I’ve driven/owned/rented, NEVER did. The only system I’ve noticed which could usually activate when the car was off was an air suspension.

      • 0 avatar
        Feds

        http://www.bugmanweb.com/c6/battery.html

        “Face it, if you’ve got a Corvette, you will have a dead battery.
        Like bikers and crashes, it’s not a question of “if” , but of “when”. The problem is so well known that it has it’s own name in the Corvette world : DBS [Dead Battery Syndrome]. I went about 1½ years before my first episode of DBS. When it happens to you, you’ll go through the same thing as thousands before you – “

    • 0 avatar
      Feds

      Re: your FACE IT section. Whatever you do, do not google “Lamborghini fire”, else your misconceptions will implode with such force that the resulting pressure wave may level most of Manhattan.

      Your computer system point is equally true for any new ICE car on sale today.

      Why do we all pile on Fisker for making a fragile, high tech exotic, but give the traditional makers of fragile, high tech exotics a free pass on this stuff? Where’s the disgruntled italian engineer complaining about exhaust routing on Lambos and Ferraris, or the UAW worker telling all about how his idea to move the cruise control solenoids to the “hot in run” circuit was passed over despite him repeatedly putting it in the suggestion box?

      For a group tagged as “The best and the brightest”, we’re certainly coming across as a collection of Neophobes.

    • 0 avatar

      Simply put, you’re wrong. Plenty of conventional cars burn, hundreds of thousands every year. About 800 burn all by themselves (most car fires are the result of accidents). Fire hazards are one of the leading reasons for safety recalls.

      As for cars that “run” after they’re off. For at least a decade cooling fans have run after the cars have been shut off. Add in all the automatic features, like headlamps that shut themselves off, plus security and smart-key features and there are plenty of electrical circuits that are still active with the key in the OFF position.

      Nowadays very few electronic devices use power switches. Your computer, if it’s less than a decade old, certainly doesn’t. Hell, I had a power supply in a PC fail overnight when the computer was “off”.

      You keep perpetuating the idea that the fire must have had something to do with the battery cooling system. What proof do you have that it was the battery cooling system and not the cooling fan that cools the radiator and turbo intercooler?

  • avatar

    I think company have to take care all securities when they designing the model. Everyone gives 1st preference to safety while purchasing the car or bike. Fisker have to give replacement for that faulty cooling fan..


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • J & J Sutherland, Canada
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India