Let’s Give Some Grace to the People and Companies Trying to Make a Difference!

Some thoughts regarding the lynch mob-esque response to the Fiskar Karma house fire story.  Below is an excerpted transcript of Chip Yates’ recent interview with London-based Transport Evolved (entire interview at the link below)

http://www.transportevolved.com/2012/05/transport-evolved-episode-101-two-wheels-better/

Excerpt from (39:50)

Transport Evolved (TE) The thing (Fiskar Karma) catches fire and burns his house down, now the good news is the batteries are still intact and he hadn’t plugged the thing in yet, so that speaks to the batteries and the electronics as perhaps not being the cause, but where it’s all gone a bit sour is Fiskar’s legal team seem to have come out with a kind of a slightly guarded but a little bit too obvious “well we haven’t quite ruled out the possibility of fraud”.

Chip Yates (CY)  “I saw the story and from our knowledge of testing and abusing batteries, and the batteries that are in there we know pretty well, I can almost guarantee you that it has nothing to do with the batteries themselves, we’ve taken batteries like that and abused them in ways that are inconceivable and we’ve never, even in a dead short, been able to actually catch one on fire, so having a battery pack sit there and spontaneously catch on fire and burn down somebody’s house, from our expertise, there is no way that would actually happen. The fires that we had at our place were tiny little fires that you could blow out by puffing some air on them or by peeing on them or something you know?  They were all on the battery management level, so I don’t know if that actually happened.

I hate to speculate, but my whole thing about this is, this is a sensational story, the media wants to grab it and make it sensational, but I think we should all zoom out a little and look at this from a high level.  Look, everybody around the world wants green energy to succeed, everybody wonders why can’t we get more green, why can’t we get more electric vehicles, why are we using so much petrol, that’s what everybody wants.  And then companies like Fiskar go out on a limb and build one, which by the way is incredible, and Tesla goes out and builds one, and the electric bike guys go out and build these things, and when something goes wrong, and this hasn’t even been proven by the way that it was anything to do with Fiskar or their batteries, but when something goes wrong then we crucify them.  These are our friends, guys like Fiskar and people that are making electric vehicles are out there taking a risk, nobody’s making profit in this space, no one’s making profit, so these guys are visionaries and they’re out there doing their best and for sure, if somebody’s house burns down it’s terrible don’t get me wrong, but I think we should step back a minute and let the investigation go forward, but from where we stand, I can’t imagine the batteries themselves had anything to do with this.”

After the interview, additional information emerged that may clear the batteries of fault in line with Chip Yates’ statements, and perhaps ironically laying blame on a tightly packaged gasoline motor rather than the EV portion:

http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/fisker-karma-fire-investigation-continues-ev-expert-blames-engine-packaging-heat-not-batteries/

In any event, FOTC believes we need to encourage companies to emerge in the green space and develop new technologies in an environment where they feel free to do so, safety being paramount, but free of the fear of overreaction or undeserved media and public criticism.  Let’s not disincentivize innovators from taking risks in the name of improving life for all of us.  If the goal really is to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and preserve natural resources and the environment, then we are all on the same team and should act as such!

–Chip Yates