A garage fire last week in suburban Houston has been linked to a Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid, but the company quickly noted that the battery remained intact and unplugged — and did not appear to be the cause.
But if not the battery, then what?
More likely, poor packaging in the engine compartment and exhaust routing generated excess heat. When combined with a fluid leak, that would be enough to create a fire, said Jon Bereisa, CEO of consultancy Auto Lectrification.
Bereisa was chief engineer of General Motors’ EV1 and was the systems architect for the Chevrolet Volt, so he knows his way around these sorts of complex problems.
Bereisa has driven the Karma and has nosed around the car’s inner workings. When he saw the cramped engine compartment of his test car, he was immediately alarmed.
“That engine is shoehorned into that bay, because they had to use a larger engine, because it was too heavy a car. As a result, there’s no room for exhaust routing and heat shielding to route the heat away,” Bereisa said in an interview.