The Fisker Karma plug in hybrid electric vehicle, which is now being offered to buyers in several Middle Eastern countries, has been the subject of controversy. According to a recent report, 300 of them were destroyed when hurricane Sandy hit the northeast United States. This includes 16 that were said to have caught fire when flooded by sea water while they were waiting at a New Jersey storage lot to be delivered to purchasers who had ordered them from the California-based company. But loyal Fisker Karma owner Wayne Westerman aims to debunk any claims that these high class EVs are a risk.
Whether these cars do constitute a fire hazard has yet to be determined, though it is now being said that only one of the New Jersey cars actually caught fire due to a battery cable short circuit; this fire then spread to other cars parked nearby.
“When I bought an Aston Martin DB9 in 2005, I was delighted with everything but the gas guzzler tax and poor fuel efficiency, especially for city driving. So I was thrilled to find that former Aston Martin designer Henrik Fisker was penning an even more voluptuous design around an eco-friendly theme, he explained.
The plugin-hybrid Fisker Karma shares some of the DB9’s sport tourer curiosities, like a tiny trunk, tight rear visibility and posh interior. But the Karma has strong distinctions as well, being a 4-door with relatively roomy rear seats. The Karma front seats are wonderfully comfortable and actually help me relax driving home after a long day. The Karma ride and steering are perfectly smug without picking up every road rumble that the DB9 would have. So the Karma strikes a better balance between comfort for a daily commute and sport suspension. For this reason, many Karma owners on the FiskerBuzz forum have said that the Karma has become their daily driver while the other sport luxury cars in their “stable” sit in neglect.
Regarding the “exploding cars” incident in New Jersey, Westerman told Green Prophet that out of 330 swamped Fiskers, only one actually caught fire due to flooding by saltwater that entered a low voltage (12V) control unit (a component common to many other car brands). The fire then spread to 16 other Fiskers.
“Several non-Fisker cars on the same pier, including three Toyota Priuses, also caught fire”, he adds.
Only one factor in the Fisker appears to be a minor problem and that is the relatively low amount of mileage that can be driven on a full battery charge.
“This depends on your driving style, speed, hills, air conditioner, etc,” says Westerman.
“A few people reportedly manage to eek 50 miles out of the battery but that seems to require a light foot and ideal conditions. So once the battery gets down to 15% the gasoline engine more or less sustains it near that point using the battery as a buffer during stop and go, which is more like the Prius hybrid.”
Even though Westerman appears to love his Fisker Karma, the jury is still out as to whether this car is more prone to fire risks than other electric or hybrid cars. With temperatures in the UAE and other parts of the Middle reaching as much as 45 degrees Celsius, it will be interesting to find out how this factor might affect the cars being driven in hot climates.
Photos courtesy of Wayne Westerman
Read more on Fisker and other hybrid cars and their technology:
Is There a Fire Hazard in Fisker Karma Electric Super Cars?
Luxury Fisker Karma Electric Vehicle hits the Middle East
The Best Electric Cars of 2012, According to the American Buzz
Legacy of Hybrid Battery Inventor Stan Ovshinsky Lives On