Fisker Automotive CEO Tom LaSorda has quickly come to the defense of his company’s Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid sports sedan after Consumer Reports reported its car stopped working after just 200 miles of use.
The 2012 Fisker Karma has already received its fair share of criticism from right-leaning politicians and pundits as a $107,000 sedan built in Finland using U.S. Department of Energy funding. That funding, part of a $529 million package, has already led to Fisker to seek private investors, too, because the automaker has met a snag in getting the funding for its Delaware assembly plant where it will manufacture its next vehicle, currently codenamed “Nina.”
But the startup’s woes are starting to be addressed by its executives—and very publicly at that. LaSorda recently distributed an open letter to customers saying Fisker had placed a “‘SWAT Team’ with over 50 dedicated engineers and other consulting professionals to help identify this and other unique customer issues with the Karma” after Consumer Reports published its story on a Karma becoming inoperable during its usual testing protocol.
Consumer Reports followed up its online entry saying that its car had been fixed, noting that the battery and inverter cable were both faulty. The dealership said it had targeted the problem and had been able to duplicate it.
“We now have a brand-new lithium-ion drive battery pack provided under warranty, though likely costing as much as a small, fuel-efficient car,” said Consumer Reports.
As Fisker has found out, it’s not easy being green—or a new player in an incredibly competitive auto market. Already, Fisker has sold Karma sedans to the likes of Colin Powell, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Justin Bieber, but name recognition alone hasn’t staved off its sharp attacks and teething problems with two recalls of its new technology.
Fortunately, the recently hired CEO, LaSorda, is a hardened veteran of the automotive industry, engineering specialist, and financial mastermind, helping craft the Fiat-Chrysler merger before exiting for Fisker. His next project is to build the reputation of Fisker back up in the eyes of a skeptical public. What that public fails to realize much of the time is that the Velmet facility in Finland is the only plant that could have built the Karma with any sort of low-volume profitability, as it also produced the Porsche Boxtster. And no first-time automaker is ever going to get everything off without a hitch on the first go-around.
Sources: Automotive News, Fisker