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To Hell With Safety...Fisker Karma Shoved Onto Market Early, According To Ex Employee

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On: Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 12:19PM | By: Chris Weiss

To Hell With Safety...Fisker Karma Shoved Onto Market Early, According To Ex Employee

Last month, the media reported that Fisker had lost millions of dollars in loan money from the Department of Energy. The plug-in start-up is still reeling from the loss and trying to figure out where to turn now. It has a new leader at the helm who appears confident (or at least good at giving the appearance of confidence to appease investors and the media) and is moving forward with plans to get the money back from the DOE or elsewhere. A new report alleging that Fisker essentially threw caution to the wind to get the Karma to market and secure DOE funding probably won't help its case.

According to a conversation between a former Fisker employee and technology blog GigaOM, Fisker rushed the launch of the Karma so that it could meet the milestones necessary to maintain its funding. That would explain why the Karma has been guilty of everything from battery fires to less-than-advertised fuel economy to fizzling out on delivery (for Consumer Reports, nonetheless).

Of course, we're taking this information with a big, choking grain of sea salt. Because if there's one word that does not effectively describe the Karma's launch, it's "rushed." The Karma was delayed several times before deliveries finally began last year. Fisker originally presented the concept in 2008, so it's not like they banged it together and got it out a couple months later.

Also, Fisker lost its Department of Energy loan money based upon its failure to get the Karma out on time, so we wonder how true it could be that the company rushed around to meet DOE deadlines. If it did, it didn't do it right.

Given that other electric cars, including the Tesla Roaster and Chevy Volt, have dealt with fire hazard issues and other kinks, the Karma doesn't seem any less market-ready than its competitors.

As for Fisker's response, someone sent the usual pile of spokesperson horse manure: "Quality and customer satisfaction are the top priority for Fisker Automotive. With any new technology there will be unanticipated bugs and we have demonstrated the ability to quickly resolve them on a case-by-case basis."

The Fisker employee in question said that he left the company based upon these problems with Fisker cars. And there's another reason to question his word: He now works at a different electric vehicle start-up - Coda.


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