In its blog posting, Consumer Reports indicated that it has had other bad Karma experiences. "We encountered other problems with a Karma press car that visited the track for a few hours, and we have heard of problems at press events," the blog stated. "In addition, we see that some owners are experiencing a variety of issues, as evidenced by forums, such as FiskerBuzz.com."
The incident is bad news for Fisker, which took a hit late last year when it revealed that it was building its luxury plug-in hybrid in Finland, after being awarded a $528.7 million Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan from the US Department of Energy. In a statement issued last year after receiving the loans, Fisker said the money was used to create jobs in the United States and "not a single dollar of the DoE loans has been, or will be, spent outside of America."
The Karma is a luxury plug-in hybrid that operates on the same principal as the Chevy Volt. Its patented EVer powertrain uses a 20.1kWh lithium-ion battery pack and 336V electrical architecture to get a 50-mile all-electric driving range. Its two-liter, direct injection, four-cylinder engine gives the Karma a total range of 300 miles.
Champion says the public shouldn't judge plug-in hybrid technology based on this incident alone. Consumer Reports has tested Chevy Volts for over a year without a technical incident, he told us. "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."
The original version of this story stated that Fisker used its US Department of Energy loan to fund production of the Karma automobile in Finland. It did not. Design News regrets the error.