Girardi | Keese

Car manufacturer could be in hot water over cooling fan recalls

In the wake of rising oil prices, car manufacturers have been clamoring to make the next big sensation in hybrid vehicles. Fisker Automotive Inc. had the answer to this with their new plug-in hybrid car that boasted both luxury as well as great fuel economy.

But a recent car fire in California, linked to a faulty cooling fan in the vehicle, has led to plans of a recall.

According to reports, the fire occurred in Woodside earlier this August when a fault in the fan in the car's front left corner overheated and caused a slow burning fire. The report does not specify if the driver of the vehicle was injured but it leads many to wonder, if the accident had been worse, could the manufacturer be held responsible for the automotive defect?

This incident follows a March recall by Fisker's battery supplier to replace flawed packs and a December recall for a software glitch. Because of the recalls, reports say that Fisker has lost access to a portion of their loan that was awarded by the U.S. Energy Department in 2009. This leaves some to wonder if any of the recalls may have been caused by manufacturers cutting corners and using lower grade parts in the vehicles.

The answer to the above question is yes; manufacturers should be held responsible for any automotive defects. Not only in cases where there is loss of property, but especially in cases where there is injury or loss of life. Wrongful deaths due to automotive defects are serious cases that could carry harsh penalties and difficult court proceedings for all parties involved.

Source: Bloomberg Business Week, "Fisker Looks in California Fire Involving Plug-In Karma," Alan Ohnsman, Aug. 18, 2012

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