A Consumer Reports road test involving the Fisker Karma, the plug-in hybrid luxury sedan, has become a sensation for all the wrong reasons. The Karma is continually breaking down, malfunctioning and damaging the reputation of the fledgling car company.
Karma looking more like a dogma
Fledgling “green” luxury car maker Fisker Automotive is facing numerous hurdles in establishing the company as a serious player among fringe car makers. Besides funding having been cut off from federal loans, Fisker is also in the wake of a public relations nightmare because of issues with a Karma being road-tested by Consumer Reports.
Consumer Reports magazine, according to USA Today, buys vehicles for testing from dealerships and then subjects them to drive testing. The Karma cost the magazine $107,850. After only a few days of testing and fewer than 200 miles on the clock, a warning light came on while traveling at 65 miles per hour during a highway speed test, according to Consumer Reports.
After the test, the car wouldn’t restart and had to be sent back to the dealership on a flatbed. The car was fixed and eventually returned to the CR test track.
After getting the car back on March 15, according to USA Today, Consumer Reports had further issues with the Karma. During testing, “rogue warning indicators” came on and the speedometer and battery meter would not work during driving. As a result, Consumer Reports isn’t taking the car on trips longer than a few miles and fully expects the car to be headed back to the dealership again.
Aside from the problems, the magazine’s reviewers found the car to be stylish and sumptuous inside, though underpowered. The battery packs and electric motors, along with the engine, transmission and other components add up to 5,395 pounds, a difficult amount of weight for a turbo-charged four-cylinder to shift quickly.
A former Karma dealer, according to Fox News, has made allegations in the press of similar defects in new cars and blasted the company for putting the car out too early. Fisker denies the car was rushed to market in any way.
Launching a car company from scratch, especially a luxury eco-car that’s jam-packed with technology and creature comforts, is difficult. Fisker is experiencing its share of difficulties. In the past year, according to MSNBC, Fisker Automotive has had its federal funding frozen, recalled the Karma, shut down Karma production for a few days to fix a defect and had to replace its CEO for American operations.
Consumer Reports has stated that the tests won’t affect its reliability score for the car, as those are determined by readers’ reviews.
USA Today: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2012/03/fisker-karma-consumer-reports-fail-battery-cost/1#.T2eJ5WWP-_0
Consumer Reports: http://news.consumerreports.org/cars/2012/03/video-bad-karma-our-fisker-karma-plug-in-hybrid-breaks-down.html
Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2012/03/16/fisker-responds-to-whistleblower-claims-it-rushed-karma-to-market/