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$100k Fisker Karma 'Bricked' During Consumer Reports Test

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sensor pro
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$100 Fisker Karma EV
sensor pro   3/12/2012 10:44:32 AM
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I guess releasing a product that has tooooooo much electronics without substantial testinmg and verification will do that to you.

To me it is an expensive untested toy.  If anything, the new Ashton-Martin looks super, and costs less. ( ONLY $231,000.00  !!!!!!!!!!! )

Rich Merritt
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Re: $100 Fisker Karma EV
Rich Merritt   3/12/2012 11:46:30 AM
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When you say "bricked," does that mean the battery pack died and has to be replaced for $40,000 and isn't covered by the warranty? Seems like we just discussed this very same problem with the Tesla.

sensor pro
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Re: $100 Fisker Karma EV
sensor pro   3/12/2012 11:49:48 AM
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I think "BRICKED" really means that the 100K car became a 100K brick, standing and doing nothing, like a paperweight.

You are correct, we all talked about the battery already.

Rich Merritt
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Re: $100 Fisker Karma EV
Rich Merritt   3/12/2012 12:08:49 PM
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Yes, we did cover it. But the Tesla story said the battery became a "brick" in that it was totally useless and had to be replaced for $40,000. We don't know in this case if it is another bricked, useless  battery that has to be replaced, or--like you say--the car itself just has an electronic problem and needs to be fixed.

I suspect that, because it is Consumer Reports having the problem, that Fisker will fall all over themselves to straignten it out at no charge under warranty. I wonder if they would do the same for any other consumer?

sensor pro
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Re: $100 Fisker Karma EV
sensor pro   3/12/2012 12:21:47 PM
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I agree that they wood fix it under warantee. They will do the same for its clients, as if you look at their names, I'm sure that their attorneys would demand that.

Rich Merritt
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Re: $100 Fisker Karma EV
Rich Merritt   3/12/2012 12:30:02 PM
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As you may recall from the Tesla story, Tesla doesn't replace a bricked battery pack under warranty, no matter how old the car is. Even if it's only a few weeks old, like this Fisker. So it's not a certainty that Fisker will replace it for free. Being Consumer Reports, of course, I'm sure they will--but what about others?

sensor pro
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Re: $100 Fisker Karma EV
sensor pro   3/12/2012 12:36:14 PM
I do feel that due to such a response to this issue all ove the net, Fiscar would do all possible to look good. When it come to Tesla, I was very surprized by their negative treatment of consumers. I'm sure they will lern or be gone.

Now there are a lot of players that will have electric cars or hybrids to compete with Tesla, so if they do not change their attitude, they will become history.

roybarton
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Re: $100 Fisker Karma EV
roybarton   3/12/2012 1:34:42 PM
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If you don't know if it was bricked, then why did you say it was in the TITLE of your article? Very sloppy writing for a site called DesignNews.

Ivan Kirkpatrick
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Re: $100 Fisker Karma EV
Ivan Kirkpatrick   3/12/2012 1:48:04 PM
Although there are several issues at stake here the engineering aspect is clear.  New and very complex technologies are going to have issues until the entire system is well exercised.  

In software we have a saying that the end user is the final test load.  The more end users one can get early on will improve the product development as long as it is acompanied by a dedicated and well funded engineering team.  The company should fully stand behind their products, especially at the prices they charge.  It might take a little while to iron out all the bugs and to actually make a profit but it will come with the right combinations of engineering fixes and better customer support.

A hybrid powertrain is much more complex than a EV only.  EV only performance depends on the batteries and as we have already noted in these pages, the battery technology is developing rapidly.  Effectively a 3 fold increase in battery capacity and lower costs would make the EV only pretty much unbeatable.

The downside is, gasoline is still relatively cheap and the infrastructure is well entrenched.  I found a news article regarding a gasoline from coal plant in West Virginia.  I have no idea how much gasoline from this process costs but eventually there will be some breakeven point compared to gas from oil.  The US haas lots of coal. 

Charles Murray
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Re: $100 Fisker Karma EV
Charles Murray   3/12/2012 6:53:03 PM
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When we said "bricked" in the article headline, we were referring to the fact that the car was stopped dead. Consumer Reports described the vehicle as undriveable and immovable. There's no ambiguity there. The car was indeed bricked.

roybarton
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Re: $100 Fisker Karma EV
roybarton   3/12/2012 1:32:55 PM
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My Macbook had a glitch too, big deal.  Besides a mandatory recall which is common for new cars, each of the Fisker Karma's (that's two now) that needed service since have been directly somehow related to Solyndra.  Political football?  Yeah slightly.  These cars are made in the same factory that produces Porsche Cayman, a car that also had its glitches in the beginning (google it).  No evidence of bricking here mate, sensational journalism is all.

Charles Murray
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Re: $100 Fisker Karma EV
Charles Murray   3/12/2012 7:02:10 PM
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You can call it sensational journalism if you like, Roy, but Fisker is using $529 million of taxpayer money to build this vehicle and then selling them for $100K a pop. Should Consumer Reports ignore it when the Karma becomes the first car in decades to die in the their lot? Should Design News ignore it when the car has to be towed away? I would think most potential buyers (not to mention taxpayers) would want to know this.  

Droid
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Re: $100 Fisker Karma EV
Droid   3/13/2012 9:49:19 AM
I agree and appreciate the fact that Design News published the truth on this. The fact that taxpayers money is being thrown into this is disturbing.  Electric cars will be viable eventually, however, this appears to be just one of several "feel-good" green  boon-doggles to come along.

Electrics have been in development off/on since early on in the last century - so I'm not sure why we expect them to magically appear in everyone's driveway in the next 5-10 years.

On a final point, I would like to know if we can differentiate between problems directly related to the challenges of building an electric vehicle based on new technology VERSUS general engineering design flaws?  In other words, could we foresee this company making similar mistakes had they set out to build a more conventional automobile, or are these flaws all specifically related to challenges of the new technology?

akwaman
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Re: $100 Fisker Karma EV
akwaman   3/13/2012 10:13:32 AM
Droid.  Stop watching FOX.  You are obviously brainwashed into thinking that we are wasting tax payer dollars on this technology.  We waste far more money in the tax breaks we give to oil companies that are making 10s of billions of dollars/year.  In addition to that waste, they (the senate and house) waste tons of our money and time with the oil issue.  The oil companies have far too much money and power, and the whole goal of alternative power is to free the public from the corruption and pollution of big oil.  

You are dreaming (or watching FOX and/or listening to NEWT) when you say you think that any realistic person (even proponents of Alternative Energy) thinks that everyone will own an electric in 5-10 years.  The only people that talk like that are oil barons (and their minions) trying to trick you into fighting their battle.  If we do nothing, then it will NEVER happen.

Droid:  One last point to answer your question:  EV technology, while new, is way less complicated and needs far less maintenance than internal combustion engines and conventional vehicles.  With any new technology, there will be engineering mistakes, you can't blame the technology, it is sound and simple in comparison.  If you read the article instead of spouting off immediately, you would have read that there are ~500 of those EVs on the road in consumers hands and have been for some time.

 

jhankwitz
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Re: $100 Fisker Karma EV
jhankwitz   3/13/2012 11:26:17 AM
It's always unfortunate when engineers turn design related issues into politically biased commentary.  This forum is about design issues, not politics.

roybarton
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Re: $100 Fisker Karma EV
roybarton   3/13/2012 2:37:18 PM
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Fisker Automotive has drawn $193 million from a government loan. You dont even know what you're talking about. Also, bricked is a pejorative term with several meanings. Are you pissed because someone is serving the $100k sedan market? Guys, go back to your Occupy post & leave the reporting to the pros. Laters.

oldtimer8080
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Re: $100 Fisker Karma EV
oldtimer8080   3/14/2012 1:59:48 AM
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" Bricked " is a vaild term that applies to the FACTS.

You either are an Engineering Manager who has been behind a desk for too long or you are one of the " engineers " at Fisker...

Or are you stuck with the " investment "  in Feelgood Hybrids & EVs?

Iv'e worked with the BOLDER TMF cells used to power the TRUE series hybrid by Chrysler. You see TRUE hybrids at work when you are sitting at a RR Xing when a train goes by..

No exotic chemicals to reclaim; The TMF cells are L-A based and just as recyclable.

 

Too bad the company was allowed to be outsourced...

.

 

 

 

 

 

naperlou
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Re: $100 Fisker Karma EV
naperlou   3/12/2012 1:45:36 PM
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I doubt if the battery here costs $40K to replace, like in the Tesla.  The Tesla is an all-electric vehicle.  This battery is smaller.  On the other hand, if the electrical system completely froze up it may not be cheap.  I think one of the problems with these vehicles is the battery technology that requires active measures to keep it running. 

Charles Murray
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Re: $100 Fisker Karma EV
Charles Murray   3/12/2012 7:05:37 PM
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You're exactly correct, Naperlou. The Karma has a 20-kWh battery, not a big one like the Tesla Model S. Theoretically, if we assume that the cost lies somewhere between $700/kWh and $1,000/kWh, the battery would run between $14,000 and $20,000.

Jon Titus
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No market for this dud
Jon Titus   3/12/2012 7:23:36 PM
It seems this type of vehicle appeals only to people who have high incomes and lots of money to throw around.  I doubt it would make any difference if the Fisker Karma cost $100K or $250K; they'd still buy one for the "cool aura" or "novelty" effect on others. There's no reason for the taxpayers to subsidize these buyers.  If the Fisker Karma was a good idea, people already would have raised private capital and invested it in this company.  They didn't, which should have given people in government the idea that a "loan" would not pay off. Why do we continue to elect people who pass legislation that allows for this type of subsidy?  Time to clean out the Augean Stables, a.k.a. the Capitol and White House.  Vote smart.

pkoning
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Re: $100 Fisker Karma EV
pkoning   3/13/2012 9:35:01 AM
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It would be good to have accurate article headlines.

The Fisker isn't an EV, no more than the Volt is.  I know the media have been given a snowjob by GM Marketing, but it would be good for writers to show some independent judgment and describe these devices correctly.  Fisker and GM both build hybrids, not EVs.  If you want an EV, you have to go to Tesla or Nissan.

akwaman
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Re: $100 Fisker Karma EV
akwaman   3/13/2012 9:59:32 AM
EV is used to describe a car that is propelled by battery alone.  As I understand the technology, the engines in these vehicles like the Volt, are there to charge the batteries which actually propel the vehicle.  So yes... they are "EV" class cars, with the added ability to increase the milage between charges (or fill-ups).  A true hybrid is a vehicle, like the Prius, that will actually use the motor and the engine to propel the vehicle at the same time.  PKONING:  Get the chip off your shoulder and realize that the biggest complaint and issue holding back this (EV) technology is that people want a range of more than 50-60miles.  Be happy we are going in the right direction.  As battery densities increase, we can expect to rely less on the 'generator' aspect of these vehicles, but it may never go away entirely. 

Greg Swartz
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Re: $100 Fisker Karma EV
Greg Swartz   3/13/2012 9:47:04 AM
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Most likely the system has a board that contains more than a few diodes and parts to control the high voltage.  Infant mortality is one of the first places to search on a new board or system.  This is why a lot of firms burn boards in before deployment.  Combining boards and systems from several manufacturers will result in this type of failure if the QA is not held up.  Not defending Fiskar.  They should have systems in place to ISO 900x that would have caught the defective part.

Rob Spiegel
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Like when Microsoft crashed
Rob Spiegel   3/12/2012 2:27:09 PM
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This reminds of the time the Microsoft Windows 98 crashed when Gates was debuting the system during the keynote talk at the 2005 Consumer Electronics Show. It's hard to explain it away as a rare glitch.

tekochip
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Bad Karma
tekochip   3/12/2012 7:16:19 PM
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Sadly, this is big news, and factual rather than fanciful. If the review was great, the high visibility would have paid off for Fisker, unfortunately they had the biggest failure that Consumer Reports has ever encountered in an auto. If it was a Kia it would have been big news, but being a Karma the news is devastating. I honestly feel sorry for them and I hope they have a high visibility resolution.


Mydesign
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Message for Start up Companies
Mydesign   3/12/2012 11:37:50 PM
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1 saves
"It's just really difficult for a startup company on its first car to get everything right. But this is a little bit beyond that."

Exactly Charles, new or startup companies are trying to competitive with the existing technology or global players. We have to motivate and encourage such startup companies in full heart and then only they can be more fruitful. For any startup company the best lesson is learning from others failures.

Patrick Harris
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Outsourcing Manufacturing
Patrick Harris   3/13/2012 9:41:53 AM
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First the DOE awards $0.5 billion to a company that's building luxury cars in Finland then GM, which is partly owned by DOT, buys a 7% stake in French automaker Peugeot. Peugeot hasn't sold cars in the U.S. since 1991. No wonder unemployment is not decreasing. We keep shipping jobs overseas and the U.S. government is the biggest culprit.

Watashi
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First round KO?
Watashi   3/13/2012 10:11:16 AM
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First, I would like to acknowledge Fisker for attempting to make a hybrid interesting.

Unfortunately, a high profile failure of a key component, in a start-up's premier product could very well kill the company.  It is not like high-end car companies haven't ever dealt with unreliable vehicles and survived; anyone remember the early Jaguars?  But in this case, consumers expect a much higher reliability.  Jag survived because all early British sports cars were notoriously temperamental.

The silver lining here is that it is designed for a smaller market where vanity purchases are common.  It is one of the only eco-car options available that gives very good looks with (assumed) decent performance.  I don't think the Hollywood owners will have a problem with it failing every now and then, as long as they can be seen in it occasionally to show that they are green and still cool.

(Personal disclosure - I have only owned one vehicle with less than a V-8, and had it less than a year).

TJ McDermott
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Like the space race?
TJ McDermott   3/13/2012 10:41:11 AM
One could make an analogy to the space race in the 1960s.  Both from the standpoint of government money being pumped into the venture, and from the standpoint of "ours always blow up" (nod to Tom Wolfe).

Half a billion dollars for luxury vehicle RD&D?  I'm a bit dismayed to hear this.  As with other commenters to this article, my congress-critter and senators will feel the depth of my support when I vote for their opponents.

sensor pro
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Re: Like the space race?
sensor pro   3/13/2012 11:00:34 AM
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I can not agree with you MORE !!!!!

William K.
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Electric cars: EVER??
William K.   3/13/2012 11:18:43 AM
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I agree that the current crop of EV offerings does not inspire me very much. For starters there is the unchallenged fact that they will be very hard to repair, or, more likely, impossible to service, at least the drive train. Parts that may be available will be single sourced and painfully expensive, we can be certain about that. DEaler service will be even worse than it is now, and even more expensive than it is presently.

So, given these realities, why should I be interested in owning one? And I have not even mentioned the cost and challenges of battery life and replacements.

Of course the situation will dive down the well-oiled , teflon-coated, slippery slope when the folks in our government decide that, because they are much smarter than us, current fuel driven vehicles will not be allowed. If we as a nation are fortunate, the results will be similar to the prohibition experiment, and the law would be rescinded. 

The thing is that presently we have a government that believes it is much smarter than the individuals, and makes decisions based on both lobbyist input and on raw emotions. Unfortunately there is not an obvious engineering solution for that.

 

triplep38
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EV Technology
triplep38   3/13/2012 11:19:31 AM
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This technology will not be accepted until they build a car in the 20k to 25k range. The Chevy volt now lists for $48,000. As the middle class keeps dwindling, this is far out of their price range. Especially when you can buy a Diesel Jetta for 25k and get 50+ miles per gallon with zero emissions.

TOP
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Re: EV Technology
TOP   3/13/2012 11:26:10 AM
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I'd put the number even lower, $13k to $16k. At that point people will consider pure EVs as a great second car to make the 25 mile commute to work every day while keeping the Humvee in the driveway for fun on weekends.

akwaman
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Re: EV Technology
akwaman   3/13/2012 1:37:09 PM
Funny how there is such anger at the EV.  I suppose the political banter has gotten people thinking away from logic, reason, and facts.  What is everyone scared of?  Having more money in your pocket and cleaner air to breathe is a bad thing?  Get over yourselves, the readers here are supposed to be engineers and designers.  It is hard for me to believe that such educated people can have such closed minds.  About the cost of EVs:  I bought a Prius to replace my 6 cylinder Toyota Solara, and it actually costs me more than my Solara in payments (340.00/month vs. 350/month).  In GAS MILAGE (Solara @18mpg vs. Prius @48mpg) alone, I save approximately 200.00/month.  The Prius loan is $28,000, so with the extra 195.00/month I save, add that to my 410.00/month payment you get 575.00/month (depending on interest and term).  My break even number is about $38,000 for an electric car to cost the same.  Yes, the car costs more to buy, but far less to maintain.  For those naysayers that think that EV technology is more complicated than internal combustion engines, go back to school, because EVs are way less complicated than ICEs, and cost less per year to maintain.  There are no oil changes in a pure EV.  There are a zillion (an industry term LOL) less parts on motors vs engines.  Start thinking people... stop regurgitating political rhetoric and act like scientists and engineers, who evaluate FACTS to determine the answer.

fmblodgett
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Re: EV Technology
fmblodgett   3/13/2012 5:49:17 PM
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nice numbers BUT you should compare it to a corolla at $18,000 then the math falls apart.

If you  want EV's to look really, really good why not compare to a Lexus at $50,000

hydrogent
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Re: EV Technology
hydrogent   3/13/2012 11:46:53 AM
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Zero emissions? So you are willing to breathe from the Jetta tailpipe? Diesels have emissions - just different from gasoline engines - and very nasty (think carcinogenic), with particulates. True diesels have gotten way cleaner than in the past, but let's don't exaggerate in an engineering forum.

triplep38
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Re: EV Technology
triplep38   3/13/2012 11:49:52 AM
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It is not an exaggeration. It is the US Government who issues the label which meets their standards not me. 

hydrogent
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Re: EV Technology
hydrogent   3/13/2012 2:36:56 PM
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If the source you reference is stupid, how does that help the level of discourse?

triplep38
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Re: EV Technology
triplep38   3/13/2012 2:44:30 PM
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I'm sure you love the EPA when they talk about climate change.

hydrogent
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Re: EV Technology
hydrogent   3/13/2012 2:57:11 PM
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If a piece of information is garbage, why would anyone want to dignify it, or debase themselves and the forum, by repeating it?

Bluestreak
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Re: EV Technology
Bluestreak   3/13/2012 3:12:55 PM
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Check your facts. The 2012 Volt MSRP is $39.145.

triplep38
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Re: EV Technology
triplep38   3/13/2012 3:17:21 PM
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Get out and actually look at them on the lot. I challenge you to find one for that price.

Bluestreak
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Re: EV Technology
Bluestreak   3/13/2012 4:41:48 PM
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No problem!

allow me to validate your opinion:
  • 2012 Chevy Volt MSRP

  • STANDARD VEHICLE PRICE*: $39,145.00
  • TOTAL OPTIONS: $0.00
  • TOTAL VEHICLE & OPTIONS: $39,145.00
  • DESTINATION CHARGE: $850.00
  • TOTAL VEHICLE PRICE* : $39,995.00

So yes, the ACTUAL minimum, real-life buy it price for a 2012 Volt is actually $39,995, not $39,145

BTW, This car is on the lot in Yonkers NY, right now!

....and FYI, I purchased a 2102 Volt four weeks ago in the SF Bay area, fully loaded for not much more than the lowest "total vehicle price" in the US right now..

Please consider yourself pwned!

triplep38
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Re: EV Technology
triplep38   3/13/2012 5:03:30 PM
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Thanks for the validation. The one sitting on the lot in my town has an MSRP of $48,000. If you take the $7,000 credit off, it becomes $41,000. I'll still take the $25,000 Jetta and my ROI will still be alot quicker that yours.

TOP
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And the points are?
TOP   3/13/2012 11:22:28 AM
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That the Karma "Bricked"? As a mechanic I saw a lot of vehicles brick when Detroit first came out with ECUs in the 80's. With time that has gotten better.

A high voltage event? Perhaps the driver threw it into park while it was rolling. From my experience with VFDs, a high voltage event can occur when trying to decelerate a motor too quickly. That may be a design issue or oversight or just operator error.

Government sponsorship of technology implementation? The government should be throwing money at basic research where the ability to make a profit from the research is slim to none and the research increases our understanding of science. Throwing money at a business that cannot otherwise make money is typical trillion dollar budget busting white collar welfare. At the stage where the Volt, Leaf or Fisker are, they should rise or fall on their ability to generate profit. If they can't generate profit or market share they should be left out to dry. And right now the numbes are not on the electric's side for anything but urban commuting for pure EVs and for hybrids.

The Karma, like the Volt takes the eye candy/performance/creature comfort  tradeoff to range.

rcwithlime
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This shold not be regneration as you see with VFD's
rcwithlime   3/13/2012 2:11:36 PM
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I understand your idea, (I will mention for others who donot know) where overhauling load causes motor to turn into a generator, thus ramping up the DC buss in the AC variable frequency drive.

Difference is that vehicles need to be able to coast, able to take your foot of the gas pedal and let engine braking help to slow you down. If an automatic, cannot place into park until vehicle comes to a stop, as tranny will not let the fork come into play until that point. Been that way for over 40 yrs. If standard, then engine braking is common occurance, as is seen when downshifting when coming to a stop.  

With EV's, they do use the regenerative energy (often referred to as energy used during braking) to recharge the batteries.

This being said, best guess is something went wrong with the transistor module responsible for regeneration, and did just as you said, it loaded up the DC buss and tripped out the electronics. One would think there would have been incorporated a simple way to reset. Or did they never plan on that happening?

Another issue that has been mentioned in other forums is the inability to jump start a new vehicle without damaging it's electronics. If this car has these problems now, what will happen when it needs to be jump started?

 

Either way, at this point I don't think the majority of us will have to worry about this issue, as these models are slightly out of our budget range.....

MIROX
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Too Much too Soon !!!
MIROX   3/13/2012 12:44:32 PM
The major point in the KARMA saga is that the car is designer's dream and engineers nightmare !

Fisker may have given it the looks that few love and few hate, and majority just do not care.

The engineering team, mostly novices, have no real clue in vehicle production much less production experience. So it is made in Finland by VALMAT

(They make PORSCHE Boxters)

GM cancelled the deal with FISKER years ago to supply the then used in SATURN Sky vehicles engines, so now Fisker has to built "generators" from left over parts themselves, they will be lucky to make few hundred of them. That is if GM really has that many parts left over in theri "obsolete, discontinued from production bin".

The OBD II system, which is legal requirement in USA from EPA and CARB has 14 defficiencies, which on that alone should have been refused Certification, till they get it working, but instead they elected to pay $4,400 FINE to California for each vehicle sold, gues they really do not expect to sell too many !!!

http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/onroad/cert/pcldtmdv/2012/fisker_pc_a4020001_2d0_l2_hevge.pdf

So not really surprise that the car just does not work and that it can be used only as a driveway decoration in Beverly Hills, just to show you are environmentally "correct" while you are out driving the 10 MPG Bentley........

 

 

 

PJ
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Image Issues
PJ   3/13/2012 8:35:52 PM
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Cool car. Electronics can be rectified but why let "Two and a Half Tools" damage your reputation.

cvandewater
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Inaccurate reporting
cvandewater   3/14/2012 4:01:02 AM
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Hi Charles,

I see your defense against sensationalist reporting in an earlier comment, but I would say that there is at least one count of incorrect reporting and one count of suggestive allegation without being clear about the facts.

Reading the CR article, they are careful to say "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."

Since they explicitly specify that they only never had a car fail *before* their tests, there may have been many cars failing during their tests, so you are wrong in reporting an unqualified statement that they have never had a car fail, or did you contact CR to verify that this was the first car ever to fail on their test track?

Secondly, about the disputed "Bricked" status. Very recently there was a large deal made out of some private person's issue with a Tesla that was stored too long and with an empty battery that was not designed to survive this neglect so Tesla (right or wrong) decided not to honor the demand for a replacement due to this neglect, after which the private person started an internet campaign trying to give Tesla a black eye for what he felt was an injustice, trying (and failing) to implicate that this was a common problem. Today you are again using the same term "Bricked" that did not occur in the CR reporting, so by coloring the Fisker with the same term, you are implicating that the same problem has occurred and the emotional message that is sent by the chosen term "bricked" is that the device has been rendered useless and lost all its value, has become a door stop.

However, in the CR report there is none of this message to be seen. A car has developed a fault and needs to be returned to the manufacturer. That happens every day and can be as simple as a blown fuse or an incorrectly programmed controller. I know, because I used to own an electric truck with very strong regen braking and I could program the controller to allow regen to trip an overvoltage level that would instantly disable the controller to protect the other circuits. Another AC controller that I had even displayed the exact behavior that this Fisker developed, including that I could reboot it back into idle and put it into drive mode, only to see it fail immediately upon requesting any movement. The reason was very simple, one of the 3 motor wires was not tightened so within the first minute the wire lost contact while carrying current, probably caused a spark and the spike killed one of the motor control transistors. The safety cut power due to the short circuit and the result was no-go, even though I could reboot it back into idle. In my case it was a $250 e-bike that developed this error and the replacement transistor cost $1.

To make a long story short: unless you have received more information than CR is reporting, there is no reason for you to add or change decriptions and color events to suggest a relation with earlier events that caused expensive EVs to lose almost half their value, while it may be a trivial programming error in this case. CR reported the event quite neutral, so I am wondering what the reason is that you chose to report it differently. I must say that is smells of sensationalist reporting, but at least it appears to be wrong. Let us know if you have received more information than CR and that caused you to report differently.

ervin0072002
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Re: Inaccurate reporting
ervin0072002   3/15/2012 7:30:58 AM
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I will have to agree with cvandewater. I'm not usually optimistic about things. I generally see worst case scenario. But in this case it's not so. Personal experience has shown me that Electrical systems can be simple robust and long lasting. Electrical systems are far more reliable than any mechanical or chemical system out there. Also I don't think I know of a single car manufacturer that has not had a recall or a revision on every vehicle they have ever produced. The number of components a car has makes it impossible to design it without a flaw. Look at some of the leading luxury manufacturers you will see a good number of recalls in their midst too. Because you buy luxury does not automatically imply good quality. Just means you are buying the design and the name. Pretty things don't need to be sturdy. Also keep in mind that a gamma distribution can show a low probability of infant mortality however it does not completely remove the possibility.

MYRONB
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Re: Inaccurate reporting
MYRONB   3/16/2012 12:38:16 PM
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Back in the bad old days when cars were powered by I.C. engines, a car being "bricked" meant something altogether different.  Automotive delinquents' idea of fun would be to start the engine, and with the transmission in neutral simply place a brick on, or otherwise hold the throttle wide open until the engine blew.

As far as electric cars go, I was retained to explore different energy recovery systems on a small electric car used for deliveries in gated communities.  A coast-down test required running at a set speed and shutting off power to coast to a stop.  At the moment of power cutoff, I heard a popping noise, and after coasting to a stop, the car no longer moved under its own power, being effectively turned into a brick.  A new controller had to be fitted to restore operation.  The control manufacturer didn't offer any failure analysis, but I believe at power cutoff, the rapidly collapsing magnetic field in the motor induced a high voltage spike that damaged the solid-state controller.

 


 

ervin0072002
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Re: Inaccurate reporting
ervin0072002   3/16/2012 1:03:31 PM
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Hey MYRONB,

I have seen this happen before in a different setup with electric motors. I was using a driver to control the speed of a regular AC motor. Had it ramped to 10k RPM and then I applied a dump resistor across the motor to slow it down. Sadly the person that had installed the drive had calculated the break resistor wrong so the current spike was too great for the IGBT to handle. This was a 100A IGBT and it melted. I assumed that automotive would have some spec for obvious things like this for cert... And then maybe not it is a new field even though hybrids have been around for year's requirements and specs follow at a slower pace.

MYRONB
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Re: Inaccurate reporting
MYRONB   3/16/2012 2:34:22 PM
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To Ervin0072002,

Thanks for your comment.  I believe these are the same phenomena.  In forensic engineering, switching off electrical power while the motor is turning, in my opinion, falls into the category of "foreseeable misuse," and makes the manufacturer liable for repair or replacement.   The system designer must consider these factors and provide protection in the basic design to avoid material damage or personal injury arising from this system failure.  Remember that electric forklifts with solid-state controls have been with us since the early 1960s, so the technology for motor control is not new.

Regards,  Myron Boyajian

cvandewater
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Re: Inaccurate reporting
cvandewater   3/31/2012 7:29:41 AM
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Hi Myron and Ervin,

I expect that every commercial vehicle will be resilient against and tested (at *design* level) for operation normally when power is lost while moving.

That has also been my experience with electric and hybrid vehicles - whether my Prius running in EV mode or my electric S10 truck. No problem when turning the key OFF or popping the gear selector in Neutral while moving. In fact, the gear selector can be moved to Reverse in these AC (Alternating Current) drivetrains while moving and the accelerator pedal then becomes a brake pedal for decelerating the car (pushing electric power from the motor back into the battery) until you are at standstill, then it becomes accelerator pedal for reverse. The function does not really change - the pedal is giving you a negative acceleration the whole time.

The controls you were witnessing to pop while running were either incorrectly designed or experiencing an unforseen operating condition or latent fault, because a well designed controller should not break down under these conditions, even when it is a DC controller as you appeared to be testing.

John
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Funny article
John   3/14/2012 10:11:41 AM
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I thought this article was rather funny.  Funny yet embarrasing for the manufacturer.  I don't think I would say it is black eye for the company.  Consumer reports might be a good base line feel for products, but they don't test all and they will probably tell you a 4 cylinder car is zippy quick.  Grain of salt.

melllowfelllow
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Headlines and more...
melllowfelllow   3/16/2012 11:34:30 PM
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Chuck,

I'll chime in on the headline issue. The intense pollution of the US English language can make selecting a clear slang word difficult. I surveyed 6 folks [engineering types] WRT the word 'bricked' - 4 of 6 interpreted 'bricked' as 'dead and useless' [it was not expressed this exact way by everyone, but this was the normalized interpretation]. It would seem that something like 'dead in the water' or 'totally immobilized' would have been more accurate. Of course 'bricked' could be one of those words with 'east coast' and 'west coast' connotations that totally escape this Texan.

General -

The failure - without speculating on the actual 'breakage', the real failure was a software failure. Since something was amiss, the software should have been able to identify and clearly communicate the failure. Instead "The manual advised the engineering team to contact the dealer". Are they for real? An advanced technology vehicle that does not provide a useful error message does not 'send a positive message'. Maybe the autopsy will shed some light [or smoke] on the subject.

No comment on the political-religious comments.

Whether the failure occurred at CR's doorstep or some unknown consumer's doorstep, the real questions are "what really happened?" and "why?". Time will tell...

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