Consumer Reports Pans Fisker Luxury Electric Car

Reporters gather around a Fisker Karma during the Los Angeles Auto show on November 29, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.
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Reporters gather around a Fisker Karma during the Los Angeles Auto show on November 29, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

Consumer Reports is not recommending the high-end extended range electric Fisker Karma. In fact, the auto division of Consumer Reports says the Karma is full of flaws including a "badly-designed touch-screen system makes the dash controls an ergonomic disaster." The Karma score of 57 out of a possible 100 makes it among the poorest performing vehicles of the 311 reviewed by Consumer Reports.

This is the latest black eye for the Karma, a $107,000 luxury EV that has faced delays, a battery recall and scathing criticism for Fisker taking a $529 million loan from the Federal government to develop the Karma and then building the car in Finland. The company says it eventually plans to build vehicles in the United States. Since last December, Fisker has sold more then 1,000 Karma models.

It's hard to see the reputation of the Karma substantially improving after reading Consumer Reports take on the luxury EV. CR says "Despite the car's huge dimensions, it's very cramped inside. The over complicated controls are frustrating and it's hard to see out. When it's running, the gasoline engine has an unrefined roar. And the Karma's heavy weight affects agility and performance, as the Karma lacks the oomph you expect."

Fisker responded to criticism of the Karma interior space saying, "As the Karma is a concept car come to life, packaging and visibility will of course not be that of a minivan."

As for mileage, CR says the Karma delivers 66 MPG on a full charge, but just 22 MPG when running only on premium gas. On Monday afternoon Fisker said that using EPA methodology the Karma already exceeds the 2025 fuel economy standards for vehicles in its class.

The Fisker test drive by Consumer Reports generated headlines earlier this year when the Karma model being tested broke down while being reviewed. Fisker had to replace the battery. The incident was a precursor to Fisker replacing the battery in all of its 2012 Karmas. The Karma braking down only adds to a stinging review: "CR's engineers have continued to encounter disconcerting intermittent glitches related to the gauges, warning lights, power windows and radio."

Fisker says it is aware of those glitches. "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," the company said in a written statement.

Consumer Reports reviews and ranks 311 vehicles on a scale of 1-100. The highest score this year is a 99 by the Lexus LS. The Fisker Karma received among the lowest scores of the year at 57. Only 24 vehicles rated lower.


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