Fisker down the tubes

Fisker down the tubes

I put $1000 down on a Fisker and test drove it (awful) and got my money back while my 5K deposit, then raised to 40, netted me Sig #378. I got this bizarre email today addressed to me as a "Fisker owner."

Dear Karma owner,
You may feel abandoned by Fisker Automotive but we are here to help you with the continued operation of your Karma.
Warranty and Technical Support no longer exist as previously supplied by Fisker Automotive.
Any anxiety of the future health and enjoyment of the Karma will be alleviated as a member of the Hybrid Support Solutions (HSS) Team.

Hybrid Support Solutions is offering technical support, vehicle improvements, and parts sourcing. We are the complete service solution for your Karma. Our organization was founded by the passion that all of us have for the Fisker Karma.
We are the original support and technical service team from the manufacturer. We have put many long hours and effort supporting this exceptional vehicle, and we endeavour to continue with this piece of automotive and design history.
Along with other Karma owners’ support and enrollment, the strength of the organization will be able to ramp up new parts supply and engineer new field fixes. HSS will also work on new features and future improvements to allow for the untapped power and handling prowess to be enjoyed.

I'm glad i have the Tesla grin, and have for half a year now!

Mark K | May 17, 2013

The wonderful thing about honestly doing a great job is that you ultimately win.

Tesla's car, and ergo their stock, have performed..

Fisker was never made of the same stuff..

Hogfighter | May 17, 2013

I'm so sick of answering the question, 'Is that a Fisker?' when driving my S.

The faster that company dies and Tesla is able to separate itself from the negativity that surrounds Fisker, the better.

lolachampcar | May 17, 2013

A lot try. Most fail. It's the story of the startup.
We are all better off for all of them trying as the alternative yields zero forward progress.
Thank you Tesla and Fisker.

Cattledog | May 17, 2013

lola - Good points. Pretty much all good ideas are born out of a lot of bad ones.

A thought - It would be tricky politically, but what if Tesla offered Fisker owners a special trade-in deal. A sort of, "We appreciate you were willing to be an early adopter and start the move away from full ICE cars. With recent events we'd like to offer you the following trade-in deal to move to a Tesla Model S..."

Dunno. Probably more downsides than up.

mrspaghetti | May 17, 2013


I see no benefit for Tesla in that plan whatsoever.

Personally I don't have much sympathy for Fisker buyers. The only thing the car has going for it is that it looks cool. A super-expensive hybrid? Really?

Come to think of it, I probably wouldn't even have given Tesla a second thought if it had not been run by a guy with the astounding success record of Elon Musk. With Fisker, I don't see that there was ever a rational basis for buying the car or investing in the company. Fisker buyers gambled (capriciously, IMO) and they lost.

BYT | May 17, 2013

I have to agree with mrspaghetti, if it wasn't for Elon Musk and the success of the Roadster, I would have been a lot more hesitant to pull the trigger on purchasing a car that is easily 4 times more expensive then any new car I have ever purchased before!

rochec | May 17, 2013

Please don't revel in the failure of someone who was trying to do something considered impossible. Fisker was trying to take the same path as Tesla and it is an incredibly difficult one. A lot of people are out of work because of their failures and it is just generally a bad situation.

That said, there's also a ton of experience and awareness generated because of Fisker, so there are a lot of positives as well. It is much better to fail trying something important than to never fail.

Liz in Dallas | May 17, 2013

+1 rochec

mrspaghetti | May 17, 2013


a) Not reveling
b) How is building a hybrid "impossible"? They've been around for a long time, and have been pretty well perfected by Toyota. I don't see how the Karma was groundbreaking or game-changing in any way.

Lessmog | May 17, 2013

Totally tongue-in-cheeky: Wasn't Mr H. Fisker employed by Tesla and absconded with some know-how before his company started and tanked? To my evil mind, it was very well named. Though I do feel a little bit sorry for his losing punters, sitting on their museum lemons.

And I may be completely wrong here as well.

RZitrin1 | May 17, 2013

What turned me off to Fisker were two things in my test drive, which was way earlier than Tesla's. One is I bottomed out leaving the driveway of the dealership. The salesman barked "I told you to drive it out sideways like a Ferrari." I thought, "Oh, crap." And I live on a hill in SF.

Then, when I got on the freeway, the guy said "Turn on the power boost" so I did. Most of us call that an "engine." Foolishly, I never got to see what the car could do on its battery. "Sports mode" meant ICE. I thought "forget it."

Then, to add insult to injury, the sales guy says "This is like an Aston Martin. The Tesla is just kind of a big Toyota."

UGH! I asked for my $1K back!

dlewis | May 17, 2013

I never found the car attractive and turned down the one opportunity offered to test drive it. To me, it looked from the side like an RX-8 stretched out to accomodate 2 more doors. From the front, I have no good description, but I didn't like it.

JZ13 | May 17, 2013

+1 Lessmog - Fisker was a thief. He was hired by Elon to design the original S. Instead, he submitted a horrible design all the while planning on stealing as many ideas from Tesla as he could before leaving to start his own company. Which, all of the sudden he came up with a beautifully designed car for his new venture. He got what he deserved. Unfortunately for his many employees and investors they went down with him.

Musker | May 17, 2013

I call mine a Musker :)

TS | May 17, 2013

Worst case scenario : "The Thief " Fisker starts working for a chinese EV company to design a "Techna Model SS" , with all the knowledge he have from TM , this could hurt TM in the international market. Money is not a issue if the chinese really would..
Forget about any law protecting TM in a case like that..

Lessmog | May 17, 2013

Thanks, JZ13! That's kinda what I meant, from what little I have read, the Karma was quite aptly named ;-) As is Model Ace. :D
Now, if only Broder had test-driven that car instead ...
So far, my investment account is rather happy (thanks, NYT!)
Not that I know everything, or even much of anything ...

lolachampcar | May 17, 2013

Good luck getting a body designer to remember anything reasonably useful to China from a technical standpoint.

Brian H | May 17, 2013

I never liked one thing about the Karma (or Fisker). All my uncharitable expectations were fulfilled. I'm so ashamed. Or not so much.

bradslee | May 17, 2013

Again, visionary leadership, innovative technology and world class execution are elements that make Fisker fails while Tesla excels.

ellcyc | May 17, 2013

Very interesting article about the decline of Fisker. Well, interesting if you're really interested in the VC industry.

TS | May 18, 2013

I just saw a Fisker on the harbour of Hvasser (Tjøme) in Norway. The driver parked it on a place with parking prohibited sign, and he got the attention he wanted. Tourists and couple of young dudes with a BMW cab tried to figure out what kind of car it was.. The mentioned " its not a Tesla.. " , so I felt like giving them some answers.
I told them a short story about Fisker and that they went "down the tube" , and that its not a real EV..

I felt a little bit sorry for the owner with the new vulgar hybrid car from a bankrupt manufacturer, and at the same time I felt proud of Tesla Motors in some way...

Adam S | May 18, 2013

There is a Karma parked in my parking lot at work almost every day. I have yet to figure out to whom it belongs. I'd love to find out the owner's feelings on Fisker in general and on the car. I've read far too many poor reviews to have even considered buying one. The fact that there are several on eBay selling for around 60% of their sale price is also rather telling (including one that's essentially new with only 200 miles for $65,000).

It's sad to see them fail, but their business model was wrong from the start. The fact that the car didn't live up to its expectations was not a big surprise.

danielccc | May 18, 2013

I'd rather they hadn't done so poorly so fast. Yeah, I never cared for their business model and the car is inferior to the Model S in most ways.

But for better or worse the Fisker failure rubbed off on Tesla for a number of months. I think that's mostly over now, but people who are not following this too closely are probably still equating the two.

Media coverage did not help, as I've grown tired of reading about Tesla and Fisker as if they were twins, which is just really poor reporting. Fisker never even made a car themselves, they just outsourced. Tesla has made every car it has ever sold, even the Roadster. Totally different approach.

At any rate, I wish the remaining Karmas a long life. It would be a tremendous waste to junk them. And eventually they will be collectors items. I hope HSS can manage to stay afloat to maintain them.

Brian H | May 18, 2013

In the end, I think the stumblebum (fraternal) twin will make the athletic one look even better.

jdb | May 19, 2013

The Fisker is a beautiful car to look at. I know a guy who sold his Fisker to buy a Signature MS. Couldn't be happier with the MS. Said that the Fisker was like dating the most beautiful cheerleader in high school and then trying and failing to have intelligent conversation with her.

Objective1 | May 19, 2013

I never was a Fisker fan (really!). But Henrik Fisker was not a thief. Tesla sued him and got nothing: that means they had no compelling evidence of even a breach of contract.

Besides, one reason Fisker Automotive is in bad straits is they don't own any of the battery or engine technology. Nothing but a pretty face (the design). So Henrik Fisker obviously didn't take any tech advantage from Tesla Motors.

Brian H | May 19, 2013

Or he realized that the company infrastructure and talent required to use that tech required much more than he was able to provide or arrange, hence his heavy dependence on others' off-the-shelf "tech". What ensued was not hard to predict, and is what I fully expected.

eltonf | May 19, 2013

@Objective1 Just because Tesla lost the lawsuit against Fisker doesn't mean he didn't steal, it just means Tesla couldn't prove it.

DouglasR | May 19, 2013

@eltonf - On the other hand, calling someone a thief and not being able to prove it can subject the accuser to heavy damages for libel or slander.

Robert22 | May 19, 2013

Perhaps Elon could purchase the new Karma on EBay and donate it to the most prestigious auto museum in the world as "Failed EV Experiment". Classy and distinctive.

Brian H | May 20, 2013

I suspect Tesla dearly hoped he would countersue. Truth as a defense with full discovery of the plaintiff's documents would have given them a different result. Which is undoubtedly why Fisker didn't.

GeirT | May 20, 2013

I think that Fisker failing is no good for the EV segment. EM has recognised this by dealing with the government loan as that is something that will be haunting him, even more now that Fisker is gone. I hate see competition go down like this as the space is too small. Like the Karma design or not, but it for certain is a car design with lots of character. TM will now be alone in this space for quite some time and as have learned in biology, monocultures are seldom good nor sustainable.
On the other side, I love to see the P85+ in my garage so don't get me entirely wrong.

Vawlkus | May 20, 2013

IMHO all Fisker ever was, was just a hybrid. For me, hybrids aren't the way forward, they're a dead end path to be avoided.

Mark22 | May 20, 2013

The design is stunning, except from the front. The grill reminds me of a cartoon character's mustache:(
As efficiency goes, it is a miserable failure.
As performance goes, it is a failure.
I have heard it handles very well.

As for the email the OP got, I have read that this is a third party company that is looking to offer support for Fisker owners.
Incredibly expensive for an uncertain level of support.

Really surprised Fisker hasn't come out and just declared bankruptcy. It would at least give the remaining dealers and customers some answers. Such as setting up a warrantee fund or such.

rodneynelson | May 23, 2013

I don't think any company would ever hire Fisker again. How could they trust him? His career is over. This industry is too small and has too much available talent for any board to have to stoop so low and hire Fisker. China would be his only hope. They could pick each others pockets...

Brian H | May 23, 2013

Yeah, Land of Knock-Offs. He'd find a warm welcome. Till they'd picked his brains bare.