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Fisker Karma hybrid car breaks down during Consumer Reports testing

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The Fisker Karma, a luxury hybrid sedan that runs on both gas and electric power, broke down during a routine Consumer Reports test after being driven fewer than 200 miles.

Broken Fisker Karma
Broken Fisker Karma

The Fisker Karma, a luxury hybrid sedan that sells for over $100,000, is perhaps the most attractive electric vehicle on the road. Unfortunately, the Karma Consumer Reports bought for testing didn't stay on the road for very long. During a routine speedometer calibration, the car's dashboard flashed an error message; shortly thereafter, the car stopped entirely and wouldn't shift into any gear except Neutral and Park. The testers had owned the car for only a few days, and had driven it fewer than 200 miles. After turning the car off and waiting a few hours, they restarted it, only to see the same problem reoccur after driving a few feet. Finally, the Karma was carted off for repairs.

Fisker is only about five years old, and Consumer Reports acknowledges that designing and manufacturing a new car is a tremendous challenge for a new company, especially when the car in question is as unusual as the Karma. Likewise, problems with the rare and expensive Karma (of which only about 2,000 have been made) shouldn't be taken as a major reason for the generally poor sales of electric vehicles. Nonetheless, this is not a good sign for Fisker, especially since despite Consumer Reports' favorable first impressions, they note that others have had problems driving the car at press events. "We buy about 80 cars a year," says tester Tom Mutchler, "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." Fisker says that it is currently working to replicate and fix the problem.