By on March 8, 2012


Consumer Reports recently bought a Fisker Karma, which ended up breaking down in the driveway of their vehicle testing facility.

The car didn’t quite “brick”, but it was rendered immobile, and had to be towed away on a flatbed. We’ll be keeping an eye on what transpires. Maybe it will re-start once Fisker’s DoE loans get re-instated.

According to CR, the Karma lasted a mere 180 miles before dying. CR says that they will continue testing the car and that the defect won’t affect reliability scores, which are based on owner feedback.

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81 Comments on “Consumer Reports Fisker Karma Breaks In Driveway...”


  • avatar
    johnhowington

    Worst investment ever.

  • avatar
    vtecJustKickedInYo

    With that paint sparkle and interior, it would make a good front yard ornament.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    Does CR not have anyone on staff that doesn’t come off so pompous and smug?

    • 0 avatar
      LeeK

      And do they post video reports of other cars that they test that have problems that require a tow back to the dealer? Surely this has happened dozens or even hundreds of times over the many decades they have been testing cars. This is nothing short of sensationalism because it’s a Fisker. I have to say I’m disappointed with Consumer Reports. This is beneath them. Or at least it should be.

      • 0 avatar
        Zarba

        When it’s a $100K “Game Changer” car, yes. I expect that if they had a new 458 Italia that broke down, they’d do the same thing.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s a brand new car. How many brand new cars have you purchased (or have the Best and Brightest collectively purchased) that have broken down in the first 180 miles?

        I would think “none” would be the answer, unless you’re Jack Baruth. And with all due respect for Consumer Reports, they are no Jack Baruth :).

        D

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        @David Dennis
        My week old ’02 Saab 9-5 aero wagon went DOA in my driveway and had to get towed back to the dealer — no start.

        Ignition cassette failure, apparently — a known issue with the car. Thankfully, that’s never failed again in the 10 years I’ve owned it subsequently.

        Not a good sign, I would say. The Saab has required more than its share of repairs (although not as bad as the new Audi I bought in 1980).

      • 0 avatar
        Lokki

        Here’s a quote from their car blog:

        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.

        Building an all-new car company from the ground up is a monumental challenge, especially for a car with innovative drivetrain technology like the Karma. Designing, engineering, certification, manufacturing, and distributing an all-new car pose giant hurtles for a start-up company.

        We encountered other problems with a Karma press car that visited the track for a few hours, and we have heard of problems at press events. In addition, we see that some owners are experiencing a variety of issues, as evidenced by forums such as FiskerBuzz.com.

        http://news.consumerreports.org/cars/2012/03/video-bad-karma-our-fisker-karma-plug-in-hybrid-breaks-down.html

      • 0 avatar
        EAM3

        I bought a brand new Trans Am in November 1984. It made it all the way to my house and was DOA at that point. Less than 50 miles on the odometer. Granted, it was the all new Tuned Port Injection engine (which replaced the awful Cross Fire Infected engine) but I had hoped to go more than 50 miles before its first flatbed trip.

      • 0 avatar
        ppxhbqt

        Honestly, where would they have posted videos decades ago? I’ve been reading CR since 1979 and the closest they’ve ever come in those years is a Sebring with wires duct taped rather than secured with some type of fastener that that JFK security nearly towed, as was documented here:

        http://news.consumerreports.org/cars/2007/02/chrysler-sebrin.html

        Even it took almost 2,000 miles. Otherwise, no other car has ever been noted as having to be towed back to a dealer in less than two hundred miles. Certainly not dozens.

        CR is around to warn consumer about potential problems with products. It would be well beneath them to even be concerned with someone whining on the Internet when there’s a potential major problem with a brand new car, especially one that costs over $100K.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        My former 05 Honda Odyssey broke down in my driveway the morning after I bought it @ 26 miles on the odometer, but it was driveable. This was the first of many misadventures that led to a lemon lawsuit, which I won.

        If my car had been a CR car, I’d expect them to report it.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        from CR:

        “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.”

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        They claim this is the first time it’s happened, why pick on the Tesla that nobody is gonna buy anyway, if they wanted to make EV’s look bad they would have picked on the Volt

    • 0 avatar
      nrcote

      For some reason, I thought exactly the same thing. But not about CR.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I have photos of a Fisker Karma that broke down in Pacific Beach on 2/29/12, which I have reason to believe was the day it was delivered. I offered them to TTAC, but got no response.

  • avatar
    Franz K

    To quote the baby in the ETrade commercial ;

    Let me show you my ‘ Shocked ‘ face …

    Huh ! :o(

    All those surprised by this most recent Fisker failure , please report to the TTAC 101 Lecture in room 217

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Bad Karma!

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    WHAT? Cars breaking down on the road??? Surely you jest! ;)

  • avatar
    grzydj

    Maybe they’ll take a PR note from Tesla and sue Consumer Reports. That’ll win buyers over right?

  • avatar
    redliner

    I REFUSE to take advice from someone who pronounces it “frisker.”

  • avatar
    Lokki

    Saw one of these at the recent ” Cars & Coffee” event in Dallas.

    It was beautiful and showed excellent (apparent) workmanship. I’m no more shocked than I would be if any other exotic (Ferrari, Lambo, et al) broke down a day after leaving the dealership.

    These are not Toyondas; they’re not even cars. They’re complicated essentially hand-built rich kids toys. Think of them as the millionaire’s equivalent of that little remote control toy helicopter you bought yourself. Were you surprised when it broke (or you crashed it) after a couple weeks?

  • avatar
    S2L2SC

    At least it had all its brake pads installed, right?

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    People “expect” a horrible Italian exotic to be high-maintenance (which is one reason I think they’re horrible cars).

    They also expect it to not be essentially DOA from the factory.

    A Karma is not really any more complicated than a Prius (though it has much more expensive sheet metal!) – and Fisker is outsourcing most of the production, which likewise seems to be a lot more automated than you imply.

    No excuses for dying before they were able to put 200 miles on it.

    (Though I suppose this does mean one of two things:

    A) Fisker admirably – though perhaps self-destructively – didn’t pick The Best Of The Karmas to hand-deliver to CR… but the Average Random One they picked still couldn’t go 200 miles before puking all over itself.

    or

    B) Fisker did all that and it still died.)

  • avatar
    Steve65

    Consumers Union is a non-profit with a claimed consumer advocacy mission. Why in hell are they wasting resources testing a product which, even if it succeeds beyond its maker’s wildest imaginations, will still have a market share which will effectively round to zero?

    There’s no meaningful information to be derived. Only publicity.

    • 0 avatar
      drylbrg

      If I was to guess I’d say that it was because they want to test EVs at different price levels to get a feel for the state of the technology. Putting a good looking car like the Fisker on the cover probably doesn’t hurt sales either.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      Because like every other magazine they need to do something to get subscribers. I stopped reading them long, long ago. I even heard they said the Dyson vacuums suck, er don’t suck. Don’t vacuum like they should. They may be non profit but they still need to make money somehow.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        My Dyson rocks. I guess that is another reason to not trust CR…

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        Vacuums are my other hobby; Dysons are fine until the cyclonic chambers clog up with dirt. Then, time-consuming total disassembly ensues. Ask any vacuum repair shop and they will say the same.

        I use a Royal that I bought on Craigslist for $75. It will outlast ten Dysons and I will never have to take it apart to clean it (save for the brush roll of course).

        Getting back to the dead Karma, did it make it all 180 miles on one charge? If so, bravo!

    • 0 avatar
      nrcote

      Fancy technology is only offered on expensive cars at first. Later on, we can get it in our Corollas and Camcords. But it’s nice to know if it works in the beginning. Moreover, I like to think that some rich guy somewhere bought a very expensive car and got stuck with it, much like the CR car. Think about the Tesla and the “bricking” problem. Call it envy, jealousy, I don’t care, I still think it’s funny.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve65

        “But it’s nice to know if it works in the beginning.”

        Nice to know? Maybe. I suppose. If you’re interested. But:

        Whether it works at this time in this application is of no relevance whatsoever to whether it will work in any future application, especially in view of the fact that they gave (and apparently have) no clue how or why it failed. An incredibly complex brand new machine barely out of beta testing from a brand new company with no track record whatsoever had some sort of failure out of the box. Shocking. Dog bites man. Reporting the failure before they have any sort of dianosis is purely publicity mongering. And if comes back tomorrow because it had a battery cable come loose, that report won’t get nearly as much attention.

        In short, this is a hatchet job, cloaked in a bogus veneer of “objective testing”. If they were serious about providing useful information, they’d have waited until they had, at minimum, a diagnosis, repair, and a completed test.

    • 0 avatar

      I wonder why they tested the Karma and not the Tesla Roadster. Price is about the same.

      D

    • 0 avatar
      PJ McCombs

      Meh. This post makes it sound like CR is blabbing the story all over. In reality, it’s one post on their ‘Cars’ blog–which almost no-one reads–where they frequently post updates on how their test cars are doing.

      IIRC, CR sells their cars after the test period anyway, so end up recouping most of the cost whether it’s a cheap car or an expensive one.

    • 0 avatar
      ppxhbqt

      They’re testing it because they know they have many in their subscriber base who can well afford it and would be interested. And why wouldn’t they mention it as soon as possible, since it’s on the market NOW! If they’d waited and it came out later, imagine how many of the people important to them–actual subscribers-would be screaming about buying a car that CR knew to be having problems. It’s not like CR’s car is the only one. Read their post. Other buyers are having lots of problems, too.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      They test the unattainable Karma for the same reason Road & Track tests unattainable cars all the time – they look good on the cover.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Since CR doesn’t test other $100K exotica, I have to assume they tested this car because of its unusual powertrain. Or maybe you’re right: perhaps the typical CR subscriber drives a Pious, but has dreams of driving “the ultimate Prius” — i.e., the Karma.

        In any event, I’m sure someone who is versed in the principles of feng shui can explain all of this. No doubt it has something to do with the north-south-east-west orientation of the dealership and calling the car “Karma.” Perhaps if you call something “Karma” and don’t orient the pyramidal elements of the design correctly, it becomes a concentrator of negative energy — bad Karma, since negative energy will not propel the vehicle . . . only positive energy.

    • 0 avatar
      kokomokid

      While CR provides actual consumer information, they also provide entertainment. I suspect that is why they bought the Fisker, and why they have tested Vipers, Z-06 Corvettes, and other cars that don’t fit the “transportation appliance” description. I look forward to seeing what they have to say about the “ride and drive” characteristics of the Karma, if it will run long enough for them to perform their normal tests.

  • avatar
    toomanycrayons

    The most satisfying thing for me was seeing just what would happen when you combined a Mazda GRIN with a Lincoln Boat-Wake/Waterfall grill. WOW, no more sleepless nights…

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    A bit over $550/mile? And I thought I got screwed by U-Haul.

  • avatar
    lw

    But does it catch fire?

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    Remember once when the old man bought a new 1977 LeMans whci broke down on the way home from the dealership . Then when I went to pick it up after it was “fixed” it broke down again, all with less than 5 miles on it. Was wondering if the Karma was on sale yet. Had my first Karma sighting on the street last week but I couldn’t catch up to it .( I live in Houston). It was in white and I liked the looks though the grill is a bit wide.The same day I had another odd sighting – a Maybach sedan , also in white , only the second one I’ve seen here.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    I thought Fiskars were a good pair of scissors.

  • avatar

    Bad karma

  • avatar
    spinjack

    Fisker is becoming a make that is very hard to love. The styling, the technology, the exclusivity; this is a car has desirability written all over it. In theory. The Fisker ship appears to be sinking.

    On a another note, CR sold out its integrity long ago with the roll-over witch hunt.

  • avatar
    seanx37

    I am of two minds about this.

    First, a really expensive car(subsidized by own tax dollars)broke down right away. Totally unacceptable.

    Second, and perhaps more importantly, it is new technology. Do you think that internal combustion engined cars were totally reliable in 1899 or so? It takes time for technology to become reliable and affordable.

    • 0 avatar
      modelt1918

      Really? Electric vehicles are new technology? Electric vehicles were the #1 selling type of auto in 1899. They would go about 60 miles on a full charge, just as they do today. Internal Combustion cars were totally unreliable in 1899. They have come a long way…. unlike electric vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        Morea

        modelt1918 makes a good point. I would also add that there was a third technology in 1899: steam (i.e., external combustion).

        The replacement of steam locomotives with diesel ones is a well known case of technology substitution.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        “The years 1899 and 1900 were the high point of electric cars in America, as they outsold all other types of cars. One example was the 1902 Phaeton built by the Woods Motor Vehicle Company of Chicago, which had a range of 18 miles, a top speed of 14 mph and cost $2,000.” http://inventors.about.com/od/estartinventions/a/History-Of-Electric-Vehicles.htm
        That would be about $52,000 2010 dollars.

      • 0 avatar
        mzr

        Have electric cars undergone nearly uninterrupted periods of research and development since 1899?

      • 0 avatar
        protomech

        Ford claims the Model T got 13-21 mpg. Clearly gas cars haven’t improved much either. /sarcasm

        In reality, our usage patterns are much different now than 100 years ago, and the cars are much much heavier. This applies to electric cars just as much as gas cars; a modern gas car with similar power and weight to the Model T would probably use 1/10 the fuel at similar speeds and produce 1/10000 the emissions. A modern electric car with similar power and weight as the 19th century electrics would probably get 10x the range.

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        Yes, 1899 electrics got 60 miles of range… at 13MPH…
        Lots of electric h8ters on this board – unbelievable.
        Politics has turned an exciting technological development into the second coming of Satan – I’m sure that the “Space Race” (that we spent a significant fraction of GDP on), should have been de-funded when the first rockets blew up on the pad.
        Cripes.
        CR will report on the issue with the Karma as soon as they know – and they’ll explain what happened in an honest fashion that will either calm any potential customer’s fears, or send them somewhere else.
        Oh, and they had no problems with their Volt, AFIK.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        Actually, those old electrics got less than 20 miles at around 14 mph.

        Batteries still have very poor energy density compared to fossil fuels, but are far better than those of 1900!

    • 0 avatar
      kokomokid

      It is (kind of) new technology, but it is not that different from Volt. The trouble is, the Karma is apparently very underdeveloped. It doesn’t seem to work reliably, and CR’s experience is not the first. Volt, on the other hand, has good reliability data from CR, and anyone else who has real data on such things. It’s not easy to start a new car company, and using a non-standard powertrain doesn’t make it any easier.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        The car business is very very hard. Ask Elon Musk.
        One of the enthusiast mags, Car & Driver or Road & Track, a number of years ago reported that they had never tested a Rolls Royce that did not have a problem, ranging from door trim falling off to something more serious. Conversely, they claimed they had never tested a Cadillac that did have a problem. It was long ago, but the point I took was that low volume, niche vehicles are far more likely to have onsey, twosey problems, than mass market products. Time will tell if Fisker is one of the spectacular failures in the EV world predicted by some auto executives.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    What, did the Mr. Fusion on the back take a s#!^? What a piece of crap.

    ‘Back to the drawing board’ -Wile E. Coyote

  • avatar
    oldyak

    beautiful car…If if doesn’t sell as a Fisker someone will buy up whats left and re-market with a real drive train!

  • avatar
    gslippy

    This story may kill Fisker, which has been dying anyway. Wait until the news networks get a hold of this.

    • 0 avatar
      salhany

      Hell, a quick look at the Fisker boards shows that the problem is hardly isolated to CR’s car. Numerous reports of hardware and software failures, hard resets on the highway, losing the lights in the middle of the night, etc.

  • avatar
    RSF

    They didn’t forget to charge it, did they?

  • avatar

    I have nothing to add except that I’m a little surprised that nobody has made the obvious “Instant Karma” joke yet.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Huh. Grandma was a seamstress. She had several Fiskers. Swore by them.

  • avatar
    damikco

    Where is the Toyota recall news?

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I’m sure glad they’re not getting into the aerospace business!

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    No big deal, nothing another half a billion Obamabucks can’t fix. It’d be a lot easier to return to the factory if it was in Delaware as promised & not in FINLAND!

  • avatar
    shaker

    Any moves towards energy independence are simply prudent as a national security concern, rather than funding (as Ron Paul might say), “endless war” that the oil companies would infinitely prefer.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Yep – warfare sure burns up alot of fuel… Noticed in the headlines that as America withdraws from Iraq, the oil fields remain controlled by Western oil companies.


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