Call it bad luck, call it unfortunate timing, but whatever you call it, Fisker’s $100,000-plus luxury plug-in hybrid sports car, the Karma, started out on the wrong track yesterday, stopping dead during its first road testing by Consumer Reports.
“Our Fisker Karma cost us $107,850. It is super sleek, high-tech — and now it’s broken,” the magazine lamented in its blog today in an item headlined “Bad Karma.”
The car, made famous by initial users including Leonardo DiCaprio, Ashton Kutcher and Justin Bieber, was being put through the paces of Consumer Reports’ 65 mph speedometer calibration test, a warm-up before being run through the more demanding paces of its testing methods, when the dashboard flashed a warning message before emitting a “bing,” indicating a major problem.
Consumer Reports‘ technician pulled the car off the track, and went into troubleshooting mode to determine the problem. After working through the owner’s manual, and attempting to restart and engage the car, the technician finally called the local (100 miles away) dealer for assistance. A flat-bed trailer came to tow away what had to be the most impressive car ever seen rolling down the highway on its way for service.
The Fisker represents the first car in Consumer Reports history that did not get past the initial calibration test, and subsequently not make it on to the test track.
The failure is another setback for Fisker, coming on the heels of recent layoffs at their Delaware and California facilities, and the resignation of their founder, Henrik Fisker.
Fisker also is running short on federal monies obtained through a $650 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy. Fisker has built 2,000 vehicles, with 500 current users and the remaining inventory available for sale, numbers that do not satisfy DOE production and sales commitments in the loan package. Fisker is attempting to restructure the loan with DOE.
Consumer Reports will, of course, resume testing the car once the company provides them with another one. For now, it’s enough to say it has been a bumpy ride.
— Marc Bastow, InvestorPlace Assistant Editor