Published September 24, 2012
By Jeff Cobb
Fisker Automotive has had to overcome a variety of “bumps in the road,” including loss of a federal loan, and minor service recalls, but having globally delivered possibly more than a couple thousand of its plug-in series hybrid Karmas this year, it continues to have supporters.
No doubt the company is not out of the woods yet, with its mid-priced Atlantic variants delayed as are a cabriolet version of the Karma and station wagon (shooting brake) Karma variant. These are all waiting until funding and other marketing considerations will support their production.
But just to show it has satisfied enthusiasts, at a recent Fisker-sponsored owners' gathering, it collected brief video testimonials from among 28 owners who attended. These voices add to other supporters including venture capitalists who have continued to bet on the Irvine, Calif. based start-up even after the U.S. Department of Energy pulled away its support not long after the start of this year.
One private investment is even reportedly coming from a husband and wife whose Karma caught fire and was the basis of a model-wide fan recall. Even though their car burned due to a faulty component – not the battery or gas engine – they told a local publication they intend to get another Fisker ASAP, and also planned to invest in the company itself.
The Karma also is the only American car to be named Luxury Car of the Year by Top Gear magazine which famously – but we can only say allegedly – hated on Tesla’s all-electric Roadster by staging a running-out-of-power episode in which it had to be pushed to a charger.
Also Automobile magazine named the Karma its 2012 Design of the Year, and TIME magazine named the Karma one of its 50 Best Inventions. The Karma is also a finalist in Fast Company’s Innovation by Design competition.
All this said, the company has more to prove. It is being conservative in what it divulges in part because it has critics and those predicting it will fail as a “next Solyndra” – although since it is not running on federal funds anymore, that moniker would be debatable at this point.
Officially, the Finland-produced cars which are being shipped to the U.S., Europe, North Africa, Middle East, and elsewhere have topped 1,000 produced. More likely the actual number is a good two-three times this many.
The company hired former GM veteran and Chevy Volt line director Tony Posawatz as CEO in August, and the Atlantic, which could be priced competitively with the Volt is the company's next car on the agenda reportedly to be produced by 2014.