Fisker Karma car dies in Consumer Reports testing

Thu Mar 8, 2012 4:45pm EST
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By Ben Klayman

DETROIT (Reuters) - A $100,000-plus Fisker Automotive luxury sports car died during Consumer Reports speed testing this week for reasons that are still unknown, leaving the struggling electric car startup with another blow to its image.

"It is a little disconcerting that you pay that amount of money for a car and it lasts basically 180 miles before going wrong," David Champion, senior director for the magazine's automotive test center, told Reuters, on Thursday.

In a statement, Fisker said it was assessing the source of the problem that caused its Karma plug-in hybrid to fail. Fisker dispatched two engineers Wednesday night to examine the car.

Fisker has benefited from the publicity generated when actor Leonardo DiCaprio was handed the first Karma last summer and pop idol Justin Bieber received one as a gift this month.

But the breakdown of the Consumer Reports car is more bad news for a company that has found itself under the microscope as its woes have mounted.

Over the last month, Fisker changed its chief executive and halted work at its U.S. plant as it renegotiates the terms of a $529 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Fisker has already recalled some Karmas and in January it halted Karma sales for four days to fix a software malfunction that at times triggered warning lights while temporarily freezing navigation systems.

"It's important to note that with more than 400 Fisker Karma sedans already on the road in the U.S., we also have many satisfied customers who are enjoying daily commutes in their cars," Fisker said in a statement.   Continued...

A Fisker Karma luxury plug-in hybrid car is seen at the sixth annual Alternative Transportation Expo and Conference (AltCar) in Santa Monica, California September 29, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson