Fisker Karma Recall: NHTSA Documents Trace Fire Hazard

Aug 28, 2012 03:34 AM EDT

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The Fisker Karma
(Photo : Fisker Automotive)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released the documents relative to the Fisker Karma recall set to begin on August 27. The $100,000 plug-in hybrid electric sports car is faced with a fire hazard.

According to the NHTSA, 1,377 vehicles manufactured between June 15, 2011 and July 9, 2012 are potentially effected. Of these, 428 are still in dealerships and 949 have been sold.

The defect lies in the car's cooling fan, which contains the risk of the internal 3-phase wires to come into contact with the metal motor housing case and set off a chain reaction. The contact could cause a short, which in turn could cause a transistor to produce heat, causing the melting of the circuit board and wires in the fan motor housing. This could lead to a second short, which might cause the fan housing and shroud and surrounding components to catch fire.

The cooling fans are manufactured by Air International Inc of Auburn Hills, Michigan.

Fisker began the investigation into the defect in November, upon the first report of a malfunctioning cooling fan. Shorts were observed and manufacturing updates planned when a highly-publicized instance of a Karma catching fire occurred earlier this month in Woodside, California, hastening the recall.

To rectify the problem, Fisker will replace two potentially hazardous cooling fans with one improved cooling fan, and install a resistive cap and a 20-amp fuse for better circuit protection.

Dealers began to be notified of the recall on August 18, and owner notification begins this week. As any and all cars affected would still be covered under warranty, Fisker has requested that the NHTSA simplify the usual recall reimbursement requirements.

The Fisker is popular with celebrities including Justin Bieber and Leonardo DiCaprio, who is also a company investor.

In addition to manufacturing woes, the company has been beset by financial difficulties. One of its directors said this month that the company is in urgent need of additional capital if it is to continue operation.

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