As each day passes since the disaster that was Hurricane Sandy, its true economic impact on the east coast is slowly being revealed. Though undoubtedly hundreds of thousands of personally owned vehicles were destroyed or seriously damaged during the worst Atlantic storm in the history of the United States, many automakers with manufacturing plants and dealerships out east lost a significant number of vehicles as well.
According to an Automotive News report, the National Automobile Dealer’s Association (NADA) says that New York and New Jersey are two of the top 15 states in terms of the number of car dealerships within their borders. The dealer association estimates that approximately 15,000 brand-new cars were destroyed by the storm. Automakers that were particularly affected, they say, include Toyota, Chrysler, Nissan, Honda, Hyundai, Kia and EV manufacturer—Fisker.
Needless to say, Fisker hasn’t exactly had a smooth take-off since it was founded in 2007. With an original marketing effort that was admittedly over ambitious—especially in a world that wasn’t necessarily ready for plug-in EVs, let alone plug-in EVs with a sticker price of over $100,000—the Anaheim, California based company suffered a number of fits and starts in the last five years. First, there was a spontaneous combustion situation shortly after the first generation of Karma sedans were delivered, which ultimately resulted in a recall. And then, the company that manufactures the EV’s batteries, A123, went belly up.
Unfortunately, that little incident got a whole lot of negative press during the recent presidential election because the battery maker happened to have received some federal funding under the Obama administration. Finally (we hope), after fielding a lot more negative “Karma” than they probably deserved, Sandy happened—and Fisker Automotive was in the way.
At some point during the storm, sixteen Fisker Karmas were set ablaze by rising sea water. No one knows for sure what happened, but a Fisker representative told the New York Times that before the fire, the cars spent an undetermined period of time underneath about thirteen feet of saltwater. Apparently saltwater and lithium-ion batteries don’t mix—we’ll consider that a lesson learned.
On top of those losses, NADA reports that an additional 367 Karmas were flooded and destroyed at a Newark, NJ port during the storm. The vehicles were thought to be awaiting transportation to Europe when the Hurricane hit. So far, there’s been no word from Fisker as to how much it will cost to replace them, though NADA assumes the damage was around the $35 million mark. AutoBlog reports that the shipment was insured, and for the sake of Fisker and their extraordinarily good looking electric cars, we can only hope they’re right.