Last week, Sandy's furious tempest resulted in 16 brand-new Fisker Karma sedans and three Toyota Prius hybrids going up in flames at a shipping facility in New Jersey after being submerged in seawater for many hours.
While we have yet to hear from Toyota, Fisker's engineers finished investigating the incident and have just released their findings through a press statement.
According to the manufacturer, the culprit turned out to be a low voltage Vehicle Control Unit in one Karma, which after being under salt water for several hours, short-circuited and caused a fire that then spread to the other 15 extended-range plug-in hybrid models parked nearby due to the strong winds blowing at the time.
The Anaheim, California-based company noted that the Karma’s lithium-ion batteries were "ruled out as a cause or contributing factor" and also pointed out that despite reports saying otherwise, there were no explosions.
Fisker's full press statement follows below the break.
Port Newark Incident – Fisker Automotive Follow-Up StatementPhoto Credits: Jalopnik
On October 30, following Superstorm Sandy, several electric hybrid and non-hybrid cars from a variety of manufacturers caught fire and were damaged in separate incidents after flood waters receded at Port Newark (NJ), including 16 award-wining Fisker Karmas. Port Newark is one of the largest vehicle handling facilities in the U.S., and many thousands of vehicles of many makes and models were severely damaged as a result of the unprecedented flooding.
After a thorough inspection witnessed by NHTSA representatives, 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 that left corrosive salt in a low‑voltage Vehicle Control Unit in one Karma. The Vehicle Control Unit is a standard component found in many types of vehicles and is powered by a typical 12V car battery. This residual salt damage caused a short circuit, which led to a fire that heavy winds then spread to other Karmas parked nearby. There were no explosions as had been inaccurately reported. The Karma’s lithium-ion batteries were ruled out as a cause or contributing factor.
The Fisker Karma meets or exceeds all safety requirements for markets in North America, Europe and the Middle East. Fisker Automotive is the leading manufacturer of luxury Electric Vehicles with extended range and will continue to develop and market vehicles that deliver an unmatched combination of style, performance and economy.