Fisker has found itself struggling with a range of technical issues shortly after the launch of the company's Karma extended-range EV, from faulty battery packs to pesky software updates. According to one former employee, that's no surprise. According to GigaOM, the worker in question reportedly left the company because of a push to get the production model out the door to satisfy Department of Energy loan requirements even though the early cars had a range of technical issues that still required sorting. The report lacks much in the way of specifics, and the unnamed defector now works for another EV startup sells the Coda, leading some to question the individual's motives.

Fisker, meanwhile, says quality and customer satisfaction are top priorities for the company, and that the automaker has been quick to solve any issues that have surfaces thus far. Owners have access to a 24-hour VIP help line in the case of a technical problem.

While the DOE awarded the company a $529 million loan in 2009, Fisker has only been able to draw on a portion of the funds due to delays in the Karma development.

*UPDATE: It looks like the "former employee" designation is incorrect, as both Fisker and Coda have confirmed to AutoblogGreen that this man never worked for them. In fact, the San Francisco Chronicle identifies him as "John Hoffman, store manager for Coda of Silicon Valley" and someone who used to sell Fiskers. So, it seems Hoffman developed his opinions on the sales floor and does not appear to have inside information. Fisker has also released a statement on the matter, which you can find here.
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FALSE AND MISLEADING INFORMATION ALLEGATIONS THAT FISKER RUSHED THE KARMA SEDAN TO MARKET

A number of blogs and media websites have recently published (and repeated) several false and misleading statements and allegations that Fisker Automotive rushed its Karma sedan to market even though it was not properly developed in order to meet certain milestones related to Fisker's Department of Energy loan. Those allegations are absolutely untrue.

The San Francisco Chronicle identified the source of this information as John Hoffman, the store manager for Coda of Silicon Valley. Other sites, such as GigaOm, identified the source only as a former Fisker employee that now works for Coda. Given that Mr. Hoffman formerly worked at a Fisker retailer and now works at a Coda dealership and because the timing and nature of these statements are similar to those made in the San Francisco Chronicle article, we believe that the unidentified "insider" quoted by GigaOm and other sites is, in fact, Mr. Hoffman.

To be clear, Mr. Hoffman has never been employed by Fisker Automotive. He was briefly employed by a Fisker retailer. In any case, Mr. Hoffman was not privy to any business information from Fisker concerning the development of the Karma sedan and/or Fisker's financing. Accordingly, Mr. Hoffman has no basis for his false and misleading claims.

These false published statements by Mr. Hoffman are having a negative impact on Fisker. Fisker is ready to take appropriate legal steps to protect its interests if necessary. However, at this point, we are in the process of contacting Mr. Hoffman and Coda of Silicon Valley and hope that they will cooperate to set the record straight.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 61 Comments
      Jimmy Joe
      • 2 Years Ago
      Shocking. An Obama Green initiative commiting fraud. Just shocking. /end sarcasm.
        cashsixeight
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jimmy Joe
        Hey look, a Republican with two first names! And he hates Obama, even though crap like this originated when Bush was in office! I bet he drinks crappy beer, hates educated people, and likes watching cars go in circles too!
          • 2 Years Ago
          @cashsixeight
          [blocked]
          Danaon
          • 2 Years Ago
          @cashsixeight
          So your argument is "durr republicans did it too, so it's okay". Really? Get out.
        XJ Yamaha
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jimmy Joe
        Yeah, because Obama was overseeing this just as he was the Volt. He's eating, breathing and sleeping Fisker and Volt. It's not like he has anything else going on, so of course those projects are going to take up all his time and energy. I stubbed my toe on the coffee table last night, i'm pretty sure that was also his fault. Same thing with my gut ache after eating out the other night. If he wouldn't have wasted so much time on the Karma and Volt, he could have partitioned it to more time with the Dept. of Public Health, LIKE HE SHOULD BE, and not caused my gut ache. My bank also forgot to deposit any interest in my savings last quarter.....D*MN YOU OBAMA!!!!
          Bret Frohwein
          • 2 Years Ago
          @XJ Yamaha
          the Volt was in the works long before Obama took over..
          Danaon
          • 2 Years Ago
          @XJ Yamaha
          Sorry, but if you're the president the buck stops with you. He doesn't need any congressional help to go after fraud with the DOJ, but the DOJ is too busy selling automatic weapons to drug cartels and fighting for voter fraud to do anything about it.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jimmy Joe
        [blocked]
        Rotation
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jimmy Joe
        There's no fraud here, just accusations of making a crummy vehicle.
      Slipstream
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why does AutoBlog, a site I formerly trusted as being unbiased, use this term to denigrate a whistle blower's comments ".......leading some to question the individual's motives."???? AutoBlog seemed to do the same thing when the Tesla "bricked batteries" potential problems were described.........do you guys have your own hidden agenda? There's nothing wrong with applauding new ideas but, please, guys, stop advocating for them. Solyndra and other boondoggles are the result..........let them stand or fall on their own merits and quite making the rest of us players in these games. If this new technology is so good, why not just let the interested parties battle it out in the court of public ideas? Tesla, for the record, never denied the bricked battery claims....rather, their explanation skirted the potential issue, probably on advice of legal counsel. When the government, using tax payer money, starts handing out loans, no good can come of it. Period. I suggest that the first adopters, usually high earners, absorb the cost of these new marvels and prove them out at their own expense, not subsidized by the rest of us. I hardly recall federal (read taxpayer) dollars going to subsidize DVD players and, before them, video tape recorders................let the folks who believe in these things pay for them in total out of their own pockets. If they work as advertised, the sales will reflect it and production volume will cut the costs....... Steve
        brian
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Slipstream
        "I hardly recall federal (read taxpayer) dollars going to subsidize DVD players and, before them, video tape recorders................" Perhaps because nobody ever drove a DVD Player or VCR to work - and those gadgets don't run on oil imported from the Middle East?
          • 2 Years Ago
          @brian
          [blocked]
          brenden
          • 2 Years Ago
          @brian
          we get most of our oil from canada and venezuela, champ. stop editorializing.
          tankd0g
          • 2 Years Ago
          @brian
          DVD players and VCRs are not made in the US and therefore there's no chance a congressmen will get a kickback for subsidizing the company's continued existence in his or her state.
        montoym
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Slipstream
        quote from Slipstream - "Why does AutoBlog, a site I formerly trusted as being unbiased, use this term to denigrate a whistle blower's comments ".......leading some to question the individual's motives."????" - I wondered the same. It only makes sense that soemone who has worked in the EV industry might go out and find another job in the same industry. Did you expect the whistle-blower to go get a job at Wal-Mart? Why would seeking out other employment at a related firm signify questionable motives? Seems completely logical to me. Just because you disagree with the decisions of your current company doesn't mean that you will disagree with the decisions of every company in that industry.
          C-Note
          • 2 Years Ago
          @montoym
          I think AutoBlog was being unbiased by including that bit about questioning his motives. The entire story rips Fisker, so in order to present a fully balanced report, I think it was helpful to mention that the guy works for a competitor. That's not the only question worth pointing out, either. If the guy's story is true, how come Fisker lost its funding anyway? And how come the Karma was one of the most delayed models in recent memory. At one point, every other story was about the Karma was about another delay (and/or price increase). Given that the GigaOM story is based on one anonymous source whose story doesn't really add up, I think AB did the right thing in questioning his motives. Not to say that it's not true or plausible, but it's not exactly rock solid evidence of anything, either. And what's the difference anyway, it's clear all the anti-EV folks are going to believe what they want. Also, some folks need to learn the difference between a blog and a newspaper. Blogs editorialize; AutoBlog gives its opinion about different car designs and the veracity of other blogs' reporting. Heck, stories like the original are biased by the fact that they're written just because e-folks will click on them. That GigaOM piece isn't news and it would have been laughed out of the building at a newspaper. You don't write a news report based on what one dude with a possible ax to grind said.
        donnieorama
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Slipstream
        Because human beings always have motives?
      Jimmy Joe
      • 2 Years Ago
      Can anyone identify a successful green energy initiative the tax payers have funded?
        Saminlp
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jimmy Joe
        Americans helping other Americans start ground-breaking, innovative companies. Wow that a horrible idea.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Saminlp
          [blocked]
          weagle99
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Saminlp
          Americans 'being forced to help' other Americans start ground-breaking, innovative companies. Wow that a horrible idea. FIFY
          dukeisduke
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Saminlp
          If you call the government screwing taxpayers out of their hard-earned money "Americans helping other Americans", and then throwing it away on $100,000 luxury cars that most people can't afford, then yeah, that's a horrible idea.
          dukeisduke
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Saminlp
          The government picking winners? Horrible idea.
          montoym
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Saminlp
          The governemnt doesn't need to step in to do that. There is plenty of private money out there available for just such investments. If the idea is feasible, then investors will beat down your door to give you money so that they can profit on it. The fact that private money isn't funneling into these industries should be very telling. Private investors are often equal-opportunity, they want to invest in whatever will pay them.
          Justin
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Saminlp
          If the product can't stand on its own 2 legs, then sure it is a horrible idea.
          pmpjunkie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Saminlp
          @montoym funny you post on the internet since you are opposed to government funded projects. It makes you a hypocrite.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jimmy Joe
        [blocked]
        Saminlp
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jimmy Joe
        They are LOANS. We are not just handing them free money.
          William
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Saminlp
          My Gosh!....If they go bankrupt the loans are not paid back.
      johnb
      • 2 Years Ago
      Someone should wipe the smirk off the front of that car. I want my portion of that $1/2 billion loan back.
        masteraq
        • 2 Years Ago
        @johnb
        Fisker drew $200M of the loan. Your portion of the amount is 60 cents. Feel free to claim an extra 60 cents on your tax return. PS Can I get a refund of my portion of the $1.2Trillion they spent on the stupid Iraq war?
          cashsixeight
          • 2 Years Ago
          @masteraq
          Masteraq: I love you. You are smarter than 99% of the people here put together.
          mawhalen53
          • 2 Years Ago
          @masteraq
          $340 million per day on the wars, every day since 2001.
        mapoftazifosho
        • 2 Years Ago
        @johnb
        I want my $1 trillion back from the wars then...at least we have something to show for these DOE loans which are a pittance in comparison. I will always remember this one time I was watching C-SPAN...Eric Cantor was before a House oversight committee back in 2007ish to downplay the $13 billion +/- in funding that was lost due to corruption in Iraq. His response was that this was a relatively small amount of money...
        • 2 Years Ago
        @johnb
        [blocked]
        turbonium959
        • 2 Years Ago
        @johnb
        Fisker borrowed money to develop/manufacture future models, i.e. Nina. The Karma connection to the DOE money is only in the legal terms of the loan. DOE just wanted to make sure if Fisker can sell Karmas, then loaning them the money is not too much of a risk. Still, the money Fisker received is a loan, not a grant. Fisker is on the hook to pay the money back. Just like GM and Chrysler did. Starting a new car company like this is no easy task. Sure there will be glitches to iron out here and there, but the Karma is no Camry. So don't expect them to roll out perfect. No one is perfect.
          cashsixeight
          • 2 Years Ago
          @turbonium959
          Gm did not pay back their loans. Google it. They replaced them with other government backed loans.
        Bret Frohwein
        • 2 Years Ago
        @johnb
        *throws out three quarters* have a little interest as well.
      dukeisduke
      • 2 Years Ago
      Whoops! Another black eye for green cars.
      guyverfanboy
      • 2 Years Ago
      Perhaps if the DoE did not have so many strings attached this would not have happened.
      over9000
      • 2 Years Ago
      wow bigger government does help in putting out quality products!!! *sarcasm*
        William
        • 2 Years Ago
        @over9000
        Over9000...You have to realize...the problem is the government is not big enough yet. If it were bigger now this car wouldn't be having problems. Forget that we're bankrupt....Let's continue to make worse our children's future.
      Danaon
      • 2 Years Ago
      You should have mentioned that the worker in question now works for a different EV startup, and left it at that. Your job is to report the news, not editorialize. Plus, assuming that the worker in question had ulterior motives just because he got another job working in the same field as he used to (obviously it would be for a different company) is a logical fallacy.
        Synthono
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Danaon
        Also, there is not a universe in which the Coda (a sensible commuter sedan) and Fisker (a flamboyant premium sedan) compete.
      mrx19
      • 2 Years Ago
      Saw my 1st one one of these on the road yesterday and while a spectacular design, the whole concept makes no sense. Just not enough Hollywood green loons out there to ever justify any production numbers over boutique quantities.
      KAG
      • 2 Years Ago
      You know with cars breaking down and people blowing the whistle on the company, it will just be a foot note in the history books in a couple years.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @KAG
        [blocked]
      protovici
      • 2 Years Ago
      What? How can this be? Bad financial practice in the auto world? I don't believe it, wait, I actually do, LOL!
      donnieorama
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'll file this under 'DUH'. Again.
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