Texas Karma Car-becue

10 05 2012

The Chevrolet Volt received quite a bit of negative press after one of the vehicles burst into flames late last year. Of course, the Volt specimen in question had been subjected to crash testing and then left for several days in a garage; barring negligence, the eco-mobile should not present any danger to those few souls actually interested in buying them.

While fears over the Volt’s safety have subsided, there’s a new Car of the Future in the hot seat: the Fisker Karma. First, we heard of how the $100k hybrid conked out less than 200 miles of testing, presumably a victim of glitchy software. At least the owners of non-functional Fiskers can commiserate with would-be drivers of “bricked” Tesla Roadsters – that particular all-electric sports car has a nasty habit of becoming a four-wheeled paperweight if left unattended for extended periods of time. At least those incidents only cost drivers their time (and money, in the case of the Tesla; replacement of its $40,000 battery is not covered under its warranty).

That can’t be said about the Karma’s most recently discovered design quirk, which manifested itself in a spectacular fashion last week. Apparently, the over-hyped, over-priced green machine has taken after the Volt and self-immolated. Unlike the Chevy, however, the Karma can’t fall back on crash testing as an excuse. According to Autoweek, the fire happened after routine use; the car’s owner “arrived home in the Fisker, pulled into the garage, and less than three minutes later the car was in flames. It reportedly was not plugged in at the time of the fire and the Karma’s battery remains intact.”

Cars like the Karma simply are not yet ready for the market, and no amount of wishful thinking can change that fact. Hundreds of millions of dollars of government loans won’t do the trick either. One might have expected flagging sales, performance issues, and sky-high prices to have made the case already, but perhaps it takes an incident as seriously scary as last week’s Fisker fire to finally drive it home.

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