During the devastating Hurricane Sandy that hit the Northeast last week, several cars parked in Port Newark, New Jersey succumbed to severe fire damage.
Among the cars were 16 brand new Fisker Karma extended-range electric cars, images of which hit the Web on October 31st, a day after the fire occurred.
Several non-electric cars from a variety of manufacturers also went up in flames, as did a couple of Toyota Prius models including both regular hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions.
After an investigation conducted with the NHTSA, 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.
In one of the Karmas, salty seawater left corrosive residue on the low-voltage Vehicle Control Unit, a component common in most cars, not just electrics. This caused a short circuit after the water subsided, leading to a fire. Due to heavy winds, the fire then spread to other Karmas parked nearby.
Other Karmas parked further away from the source of the fire were unaffected. Additionally, there were no explosions as had been inaccurately reported by some outlets.While many suspected the Karma’s lithium-ion batteries may have been a contributing factor to the fire, this has been ruled out thanks to the investigation.
Note, there have been two previous incidents involving the Fisker Karma and fire, the first time at a home in Houston, Texas, and the second on a roadside in Woodside, California. While no reason for the first fire has been given, Fisker determined that the cause of the second fire was a faulty cooling fan supplied by another company. Thankfully, no one has been injured in any of the fires, including the most recent at Port Newark.