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Consumer Reports Flunks Fisker Karma

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On: Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 9:48AM | By: Chris Weiss

Consumer Reports Flunks Fisker Karma

It's been a while since we've reported anything about Fisker, which can only mean one thing: something bad has happened with the brand. Outside of an exception here and there, Fisker headlines tend to run pretty negative. In this case, Consumer Reports has put on its high school teacher glasses and given the Karma a big, red F.

The Karma didn't exactly get off to a good start with Consumer Reports. Back in March, the Karma that CR purchased for testing barely made it to headquarters before an electrical problem turned it into a large, aesthetically pleasing paperweight. CR had to send it back to Fisker immediately for a battery replacement, and a greater battery replacement program was born. Bad first impression.

Things did not get much better from there. CR reports that it had to send the Karma back to Fisker several times for issue like electrical failures and recurring warning lights. According to CR, those problems didn't necessarily impact the score because they weren't tied into a particular test. They couldn't have helped the Karma's case, either.

The Karma, a $107,000 luxury sedan, really took a hit in design and layout. CR found the interior to be cramped and awkward to get in and out of, the engine noisy, and visibility limited. The Karma earned the unwanted designation of being CR's lowest ranked luxury sedan.

Of course, the Karma is a performance hybrid as much as a luxury sedan. There, too, CR had problems, citing slow recharging times and sluggish performance.

In short, CR's experience negates all the perceived advantages of a performance luxury hybrid outside of its improved fuel economy when compared to a gas vehicle. While CR gave Fisker credit for getting the car to market, and mentioned the car's good looks, the review doesn't have much positive to say.

Fisker responded to Consumer Reports' findings in a statement: "The Karma impressed CR’s evaluators with its outstanding ride, handling and braking, which can be attributed to the car’s low, wide stance, race-inspired suspension and massive Brembo brakes. As the Karma is a concept car come to life, packaging and visibility will of course not be that of a minivan. Plans are in place to improve sound quality, which is a new challenge for all silent-running EVs, while software improvements are being made to touch-screen controls to improve responsiveness and functionality."

Outside of that, it basically just avoided addressing CR's points and reassured itself with a list of some of the awards it's won.


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