• Mar 20th 2012 at 2:00PM
  • 279
Consumer Reports' relationship with the Fisker Karma had a rocky start: The pricey plug-in hybrid died with only 200 miles on the odometer.

After 48 hours in the repair shop, however, the venerable publication has been testing out the $108,000 green machine and has released some interesting -- and disappointing -- insights.

CR maintains that the design of the car is "simply stunning," but the praise essentially stops there. The range-extending gasoline engine gets very loud when the 22-kWh battery is depleted. And the Fisker's SUV-like 5,395-pound weight doesn't help with handling. On the inside, CR says the touchscreen is also less than ideal, with a grayscale look and plenty of menu flipping that "makes MyFord Touch (which CR has roundly criticized) look like a brilliant design."

Perhaps the most damning part of the report, however, is the actual owner complaints that have been uncovered, many of which were posted to Fisker news site, FiskerBuzz.com.

According to posts on the site, Karma owners have been suffering from some pretty serious problems. Things like needing a new differential after less than 1,000 miles, a car shutting itself off at 35 mph and lots of trouble with the shifter.

One owner wrote the following:

"Just this weekend, for example, the speedometer and energy meter display disappeared when driving, on top of having several other rogue warning indicators appear last week. It is expected we'll be revisiting the dealership soon. We've had cars in the past that have been troublesome, but never anything like this."

This is an inauspicious start for the company, which has received Department of Energy loans, and is expected to launch a lower-priced model built at a Delaware manufacturing plant.

Fisker suffers from the growing pains that most start-up car companies endure. "There are fewer enterprises more complicated and more fraught than putting a reliable, government-approved automobile on the road," says AOL Autos Editor-in-Chief David Kiley. "I am not sure there is a bright future for small start-up car companies; not when the established, well-resourced companies from Audi to Ford, Nissan, GM, Toyota and virtually every car company today is innovating really top-drawer electrics and hybrids and with established dealer networks," said Kiley.

Check out our Techsplanation article on how gas-electric hybrids work. Techsplanation: "Technology Explained. Simply"


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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      $ 108,000.00 for a Car????. Buy a decent Car for $ 30,000.00 and you have $ 78,000.00 left for Gas
      • 3 Years Ago
      Interesting! The Obama administration gave Fisker a half billion dollar loan to produce this car. And Fisker built a factory in Finland! Way to go Obama!
        • 3 Years Ago
        Yep, I'm sure a car that has been in production for the entire Obama Presidency did NOT require any research or development time (that can take 5 years plus, especially for a brand new product). This company was developing their new car during Dubya's Oval Office time, and the money came from the laws passed during that era. Obama took a bow and gave the Ceremonial Congrats, but he had NOTHING to do with it actually happening. This stuff takes YEARS to happen, the credit and/or blame can almost always be attributed to the former administration.
        • 3 Years Ago
        thats not true1
          • 3 Years Ago
          Yes it is and Velmet is doing the production. Valmet maks assault rifles not cars as can be seen by the problems. BTW the CEO of Fisker is a big donator to obama and the dem party. The loan was payback.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Toms an idiot. None of these things are inheret to the Chevy Volt. All automobile manufactures recives loans. Yes, please check out what it costs to charge the Volt, do your own research, try www.caranddriver.com. And please don't listen to Tom, he's an Idiot :)~
        Robert Stewart
        • 3 Years Ago
        "None of these things are inheret to the Chevy Volt" you say. Have you heard about the volts battery problems? or maybe the charging system that burns down your house. I would call them definite problems.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Not all companies took the money. One big example is Ford, and guess which American company is doing better than the rest now, yes , Ford. Whenever you get the govt. involved in industry like car building they screw it up, two prime examples are 1) The Yugo from the former communist countrie Yugoslavi and the Russias state made cars. Both cars were unreliable jokes. Think back on all the Yugo jokes. The federal government for the most part is incompetent. Its a self serviing parasitic leviathian. Except for the military which is the good part of government most of the federal government could go away tomorrow and you would watch our economy soar once the clowns have been sent packing.
          • 3 Years Ago
          I think you should go back and do your research again. GM is selling more cars than ford.
        • 3 Years Ago
        This guy sounds like a desparate Volt dealer.
      • 3 Years Ago
      holy solyndra batman
      • 3 Years Ago
      It gets better! The US federal government subsidized Fisker with $529 million to start up the project. http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2011/10/government-funded-fisker-misses-key-hybrid-car-goals/1 What a country! I think I'll try to convince the department of energy that I need $100 million to study of energy producing effects of electrolytic solar redistribution through hydrogen dioxide. What's that you might ask? Nothing, I made it up, but it sounds good. It just might be worth a $100 million dollar check. I just need to make a campaign contribution to some fool in congress to get it. Ya! What a country!
        • 3 Years Ago
        Has Obama offered you half a billion yet? Maybe he hasn't heard, or maybe you didn't give several thousand to his re-election campaign.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Who is the crazy guy who had the idea of naming this car KARMA? Does he not know the meaning of the word KARMA? Too bad its to late now.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Now I understand why my friend took me for a few rides in the car and kept dropping me off at the ends of the streets asking me to walk. i think i would have rather had him pick me up in a 500 dollar special.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Don't be weak and never give up !
      • 3 Years Ago
      Karma is what rears its ugly head when the government gets involved in things that they shouldn't, like designing and making cars. Between Chu, Obama and the rest of this poorly run circus, I wouldn't ride a bicyclestyle if they were involved. The smartest president ever? dream [and toke] on!
      • 3 Years Ago
      Can't we just admit that it's a really, really ridiculously good looking car and just be happy with that?
        • 3 Years Ago
        We could, but it still wouldn't be work $100k+
      • 3 Years Ago
      BMW 7 series or 2012 Jaguar XJ nuff said. In that price range even the Panamera will be good too. Good luck with hybrids. I am not into hybrids and never will be. I love the roar of a V8 in a luxury car. If I could afford a v12 then that is definetly the way to go.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Aw shucks, and here I was thinking the only thing that was wrong with it was that it looks like a shoe.
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