Like pretty much any driver, we've had our share of car trouble over the years, both with vehicles loaned to us for review by automakers and our own private rides. What we haven't experienced is being the first media outlet to plunk down over $100,000 for a luxury plug-in hybrid, only to have it konk out before we even put 200 miles on it.

That "honor" goes to Consumer Reports and their brand new Fisker Karma, which broke down during calibration tests, just a few days into CR's ownership period. After the dashboard flashed a warning, the driver stopped to see what was wrong, and then couldn't get the PHEV into gear again. Self-repairs (i.e., let's leave it alone for an hour and see what happens) didn't work and the manual was no help, so the nearby dealer sent out a flatbed truck to haul the Karma away. As CR writes:

We buy about 80 cars a year and this is the first time in memory that we have had a car that is undriveable before it has finished our check-in process.

The Karma's problems are widespread. It has been plagued by a variety of problems, including two recalls, one for a software glitch and one for battery issues, following a long delay getting the car to market. Owners commenting on the FiskerBuzz forum are also reporting various issues. Not exactly behavior that leads to a "Recommended" rating.



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  • 130 Comments
      axiomatik
      • 2 Years Ago
      At the past Caffeine and Octane meet here in Atlanta, there were 4 Karmas in attendance. They are certainly stunning to look at. As for the break down, I can't say I'm surprised. A brand new, boutique manufacturer with a brand new drivetrain on an all-new chassis? There is going to be problems. The fact of the matter is that Fisker does not have the library of proven engineered components that a mainstream manufacturer has at its disposal, and they don't have the resources to do the same level of pre-production testing that GM does. If the buyers had any sort of intelligence, they would know that they are basically guinea pigs here. Yes, generally speaking, if you spend $100k on a new car, you expect it to work. But that is assuming that you are buying it from an established manufacturer, where that $100k car is just an evolution of the previous model, and re-uses many subsystems. The Fisker is not like that. Sure, they are relying on suppliers to provide pre-engineered modules, but the integration has never been done before. That architecture that ties all the subsystems together is brand new for Fisker, and seems to be where many of the bugs are.
      Bruce Lee
      • 2 Years Ago
      Regular auto manufacturers have a hard time shipping new models without dealing with tons of bugs, I can't imagine how difficult it'd be for a brand new company to not have a ton of issues. Remember when Tesla first tried to get the roadster out and had to keep changing the transmission until there were no gears? Too bad Fisker isn't likely going to get a chance to fix these problems given that their DOE loans are being pulled.
      Classic_Engr
      • 2 Years Ago
      EV's and hybrids are still a small segment in the auto market overall, but they are growing. I'm still not into EV's, yet, but I am interested in the newer hybrids and most any advanced transportation technologies for that matter. They are all in the early stages of their lifecycle, so it's difficult to compare them with the established conventional technologies available. That said, even Ford, GM, BMW, Toyota, etc. suffered growing pains during their respective early years. In fact, they continue to encounter the occassional rash of multiple glitches, and then eventually resolve them. The same will be true of any new EV and plug-in series hybrids like this one. Time will heal these small bruises.
      johnb
      • 2 Years Ago
      Karma's a bitch.
      Alex G
      • 2 Years Ago
      Atleast it looks pretty being towed.. :|
      ryanandrewmartin
      • 2 Years Ago
      Such a bummer. I was a big fan of that Karma as I was of Fiskers previous endeavors as well. Hopefully this doesn't kill the brand.
        JackS
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ryanandrewmartin
        The DOE pulling their loans is what's killing Fisker.
      Ben Lee
      • 2 Years Ago
      saw one cruising down La Brea in LA. Looks sweet.
      SatinSheetMetal
      • 2 Years Ago
      I might just be delusional, but that is the nicest looking interior I've ever seen.
      Dwight Bynum Jr.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Yet I've seen the same white Karma driving around where I live three times in the past 2 weeks. Apparently this problem is not all that "common."
      That Kid
      • 2 Years Ago
      I cannot help but think this is a consequence of Fisker rushing to prove to investors and the public at large that they are serious about beginning production and have a viable product to bring to the market. Especially with all the noise regarding the government loans they have received, even before this story, they must feel they are under incredible pressure. I'm all for the development of electric cars, but hurrying them through the development process is bound to lead to teething troubles that opponents will seize upon as a reason to halt the development of such alternative technologies altogether. That'd probably be a welcome outcome for the current major automakers and the oil companies, but I'm not convinced it would be good for anyone else.
      Karl T
      • 2 Years Ago
      So, does it blue-screen the info center screen? ;-)
      Gravitron Ex
      • 2 Years Ago
      It may break down but at least it looks great doing it.
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