More Bad Karma For Fisker: $100K Electric Car Breaks Down In Consumer Reports Test. Do you want a refund for your wasted tax dollars?
Fisker Automotive’s troubles have gone from bad to worse. The California start-up that created the $107,000 Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid had to suspend work on its second model, the $50,000 Nina, due to a lack of funds. Now, its flagship car has suffered the worst possible black eye: it broke down in the middle of a Consumer Reports test.
Consumer Reports waited 16 months to buy the Karma and paid full price for it at a dealership (as it does for all vehicles it tests). The publication had owned the car for just a few days and it had fewer than 200 miles on its odometer. But during preliminary testing procedures to check the calibration of the speedometer, the Karma flashed the equivalent of a “check engine” light and then stopped working altogether. It had to be hauled away by the dealer on a flat bed truck.
“We buy about 80 cars a year and this is the first time in memory that we have had a car that is undrivable before it has finished our check-in process,” Consumer Reports wrote on its website.
Fisker Automotive, hoping to become the next Detroit, was started by a talented Danish designer, Henrik Fisker. who received a $500,000 loan from the U.S. Department of Energy under a program intended to spur development of advanced-technology vehicles in the U.S. The company borrowed about one-third of the money. But the DOE has blocked access to the rest of the loan, citing missed milestones with the Karma.
As history shows, any start-up car company is going to encounter troubles, especially one that relies on new technology like the Karma, which is a so-called “range-extended” plug-in hybrid like the Chevrolet Volt. It runs on electricity for the first 40 miles or so, and then uses a gasoline engine acting as a generator to supply power for longer distances.
In a statement, the company said its engineers are working closely with the dealer to understand the cause of the fault and resolve the issue quickly. Spokesman Roger Ormisher said “the car was driven off the trailer at the dealer and was running there during tests yesterday as we tried to replicate the fault.” The company added that with about 2,000 Karmas built to date, including about 500 in customer hands, “there are many satisfied Fisker owners around the world, driving without incident.”
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