Uh-Oh: Fisker Karma Belonging to Consumer Reports Breaks Down

Consumer Reports' Fisker Karma

List of things you don’t want to happen:

  1. Have spinach stuck in your teeth for the duration of a first date.
  2. Buy a new car and have it break down on the way home.
  3. Have the car you built and sold to Consumer Reports break down even before it’s checked in.

A positive Consumer Reports review can make or break a new car. Even established cars can suffer when the great CR Oracle turns its head away, as the Honda Civic is well aware.

So what happens when a start-up automaker sells a $100,000 car to the almighty CR, only to have it on a flatbed truck moments later? It’s not going to be good.

The magazine says its Fisker Karma broke down during calibration tests just days into its ownership period. When a dashboard warning appeared, the driver stopped but then couldn’t get into gear again. Since there’s not much a guy can do to fix such a problem, the dealer sent a truck to take the new EV away. CR had a snarky little comment, as you might expect:

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.

Sure, this could just be the teething process of a new company and a new car. Problems are expected on any new product, but a new automaker can’t afford highly publicized breakdowns and financial problems. Large automakers can absorb the costs and fix the issues, but I’m not sure Fisker is in a position to do that.

Even when the Karma is fixed and returned to CR, is there any hope of it receiving the coveted “Recommended” rating? I wouldn’t think so. Bring on the “bad karma” jokes!

Even if the Fisker Karma was affordable, would this breakdown influence your buying decision?


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  1. It’s so dumb to maintain the position that ANYONE buying a $100,000 electric car could care less about Consumer Reports or what it tests. Tesla is a good example– if they didn’t have a huge squadron of overpaid hippie California plastic surgeons and media people as their patient and well-abused customers, they’d have been sued out of business before you could say “paypal” three times real fast. These kinds of experiences with products like Fisker and Tesla only go to underscore that making cars ain’t easy, folks, and these arrogant dot coms that think anyone can spend a few million and create a wunderkind car are smoking something. I’d say that a full electric is probably about 1/4th as complex to manufacture as a gasoline powered vehicle, but will still cost upwards of $150-%250 million dollars to engineer, tool, produce, debug and validate. And that’s before any customers get them.

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