Fisker Automotive, the company founded by automobile designer Henrik Fisker (pictured) in 2007 and funded in part with U.S. taxpayer monies, announced his departure on Wednesday due to “disagreements,” according to the New York Times. This could be the final straw as the company has faced a nearly unending series of problems since it first started shipping its high-end electric plug-in subcompact Fisker Karma in late 2011.
After raising more than $1 billion in private equity capital and obtaining a line of credit of another $500 million from the U.S. Department of Energy, the company claims to have sold and delivered about 2,000 Karmas to wealthy individuals who can afford the $100,000+ price tag. The Karma received accolades when it was first introduced back in 2008 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, including being named as Vehicle of the Year, one of the “Green Design 100” by Time magazine, and the “Luxury Car of the Year” by Top Gear magazine. But difficulties delayed getting the car into buyers’ hands until late 2011 at which time Consumer Reports magazine bought one for testing. It paid $107,850 for the vehicle and within 200 miles began to have trouble with it. In its March 2012 blog entitled “Bad Karma,” CR reported:
We have owned our car for just a few days; it has less than 200 miles on its odometer. While doing speedometer calibration runs on our test track ... the dashboard flashed a message and sounded a “bing“ showing a major fault. Our technician got the car off the track and put it into Park to go through the owner’s manual to interpret the warning. At that point, the transmission went into Neutral and wouldn't engage any gear through its electronic shifter except Park and Neutral.
We let the car sit for about an hour and restarted it. We could now engage Drive and the same error message disappeared. After moving it only a few feet the error message reappeared and when we tried to engage Reverse the transmission went straight to Park and again no motion gear could be engaged.
After calling the dealer, which is about 100 miles away, they promptly sent a flatbed tow truck to haul away the disabled Fisker.
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.
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Photo of Henrik Fisker: AP Images