Stimulus-Backed Electric Car Flops During Consumer Reports Trial
Fisker is a Finnish electric car company which got more than a half-billion – $529 million – in loan guarantees from the Obama administration as part of the “stimulus” spending. One of their models is the Karma, an electric car that is supposed to be exemplary of all an electric car can be. It cost $123 million in stimulus dollars to bring that car to market, and if consumers want to buy one it will cost $116,000.
The folks at Consumer Reports got a chance to test one out for review, and it didn’t exactly go swimmingly.
We have owned our car for just a few days; it has less than 200 miles on its odometer. While doing speedometer calibration runs on our test track (a procedure we do for every test car before putting it in service by driving the car at a constant 65 mph between two measured points), the dashboard flashed a message and sounded a “bing” showing a major fault. Our technician got the car off the track and put it into Park to go through the owner’s manual to interpret the warning. At that point, the transmission went into Neutral and wouldn’t engage any gear through its electronic shifter except Park and Neutral.
We let the car sit for about an hour and restarted it. We could now engage Drive and the same error message disappeared. After moving it only a few feet the error message reappeared and when we tried to engage Reverse the transmission went straight to Park and again no motion gear could be engaged. After calling the dealer, which is about 100 miles away, they promptly sent a flatbed tow truck to haul away the disabled Fisker.
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.
Ouch. And this is just the latest in a long line of setbacks for the car company:
Meanwhile, back in Finland, Fisker was having a little trouble meeting its Karma production schedules. Although promised for 2009, the first models did not roll off the assembly line until July 2011. Instead of the 1,300 supposedly already under wraps, the first delivery to the United States consisted of 239 cars. Six months later, when a leak in the cooling system that might cause battery fires prompted a recall, an inventory discovered fewer than 50 cars sold. The rest were still sitting on the lots. To compensate for poor sales, Fisker upped the price to $116,000.
But remember, folks. The government knows better how to invest your money than you do.Tags: Electric Cars, fisker, karma, Stimulus