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Fisker Karma

brianman

Burrito Founder
Nov 10, 2011
17,533
2,997
I wonder what decisions are being made that he deems unethical.
You may be slightly overstating or misinterpreting here, doug.

I read this to mean that he doesn't agree with the direction they're taking the company and his "ethics" (broadly) do not allow him to participate in the direction it's going.

That's somewhat different than saying he's calling pending Fisker corporate actions "unethical".

Perhaps, I'm misreading / misinterpreting though.
 

Matthew049

Member
Oct 3, 2012
65
23
Paradise Valley, AZ
i dont think the karma had much potential for anything. i didnt see it as being much different than a chevy volt except 2-3x more expensive and performed no better, wasnt any greener, it only looked better. as someone else said in another thread, they didnt bring anything new to the table. when i first heard what the specs were for the performance and the electric range i just shook my head and wondered who the hell would buy that thing when you could get a model S that blows the doors off of it. you really have to be all about the looks of the car to want to buy it and not care that you're buying a $100k car with lousy performance, questionable reliability, crap reviews, and so-so eco-friendliness. people can criticize their business model all they want. it's hard to succeed when you're putting out a crappy product.
 

Rifleman

Now owns 2 Model S's!!!
Nov 29, 2011
991
78
Harrison Ohio
i dont think the karma had much potential for anything. i didnt see it as being much different than a chevy volt except 2-3x more expensive and performed no better, wasnt any greener, it only looked better. as someone else said in another thread, they didnt bring anything new to the table. when i first heard what the specs were for the performance and the electric range i just shook my head and wondered who the hell would buy that thing when you could get a model S that blows the doors off of it. you really have to be all about the looks of the car to want to buy it and not care that you're buying a $100k car with lousy performance, questionable reliability, crap reviews, and so-so eco-friendliness. people can criticize their business model all they want. it's hard to succeed when you're putting out a crappy product.

This really sums it up. In reality, the closest comparable vehicle to the Karma is the Volt. They both drive about 35 miles on a charge, but the volt gets better MPG in gas mode. They both have about the same interior volume, although the Volt actually has a bigger trunk. They both have 3.3 kWh charging. Their EV 0-60 times are similar. The Volt actually may be a bit faster in EV mode, and the Karma is a little faster in gas mode. Both cars have GM ICE engines. The Karma is a better looking car, but the Volt is not hideous by any means. Both cars suffer from a poor interface on the center touch screen, but the Volt's is better than the Karma's. The Volt's warranty is backed up by a company that will be in business, no matter what (the federal government has already shown their commitment to this). At the end of the day, if you want the best looking car possible, you can do better for you money than the Karma if you are willing to go ICE, and if you want the best ER-EV possible, the Karma really offers no advantage over the Volt, but cost 2-3 times as much.
 

Matthew049

Member
Oct 3, 2012
65
23
Paradise Valley, AZ
Having put 9000 miles on my Karma and 3000 on my Model S I have to disagree that Fisker's car is all style:

1) The Karma handles better than the Model S. The Karma handles like a BMW, the Model S like a Lexus (I've owned all 4 brands)
2) The regen on the Karma (both pedals, 90kw max) is better than the Model S
3) The battery/motor-generator PHEV drivetrain and the regen/friction braking operate 100% seamlessly

I'm not saying that the Karma is a better car than the Model S, only that Henrik's Karma is not only about style.

Fisker made a lot of blunders and marketing errors and also had bad luck. But I believe it is wrong to discount the level of engineering that went into the Karma just because it has a lot of style.

im glad to hear that you're enjoying your karma, dennis! :smile: ive never driven any of the 4 brands of cars that you've mentioned. indeed, a car's handling comes down to personal opinion. i would think it would be hard to compare the two, however, since the karma doesnt have the acceleration that the the S does when cornering, accelerating from stops around corners, on ramps, etc. would the karma perform as well as the S if we were somehow able to boost its 0-60 time to 4.4s? that would be interesting to see.

cheers!
 

Right_Said_Fred

Moderator
May 11, 2012
3,837
31,956
The Netherlands
im glad to hear that you're enjoying your karma, dennis! :smile: ive never driven any of the 4 brands of cars that you've mentioned. indeed, a car's handling comes down to personal opinion. i would think it would be hard to compare the two, however, since the karma doesnt have the acceleration that the the S does when cornering, accelerating from stops around corners, on ramps, etc. would the karma perform as well as the S if we were somehow able to boost its 0-60 time to 4.4s? that would be interesting to see.

cheers!

Wow, that's quite an avatar you have...

I know Fisker is not too popular in the Tesla-community and there is certainly some animosity between the two, but I do think they are (were?) somehow playing on the same team.
 

Matthew049

Member
Oct 3, 2012
65
23
Paradise Valley, AZ
Wow, that's quite an avatar you have...

I know Fisker is not too popular in the Tesla-community and there is certainly some animosity between the two, but I do think they are (were?) somehow playing on the same team.

i dont believe so, fred (imo). they were in direct competition w each other. not to mention that fisker sucked up a lot of private funding that potentially could have gone tesla's way... had fisker not been around. elon certainly had no good things to say about their car or company and, as we all know, sued them (unsuccessfully) for stealing inside information. altho a lot of people around here disagree w me and feel it's beneficial for tesla that fisker survive.
 

SoCalGuy

Active Member
Apr 22, 2012
1,416
1,095
So Cal & New York, NY
Their EV 0-60 times are similar. The Volt actually may be a bit faster in EV mode, and the Karma is a little faster in gas mode. Both cars have GM ICE engines.

The Volt 0-60 is 8.9s and the Karma is 5.9s (as tested, despite FA saying 6.3). 3s is notable. To say the Volt and the Karma are comparable is to also say a Jag and a Ford Fusion are comparable (ditto on a Coach/LV purse/wallet vs. generic Walmart purse/wallet)- people pay a premium for a 'luxury' product - that is reflected in tech/performance of course but also style. Stand in front of the two cars and you'll see what I mean, sit in both, and again, the difference and value become apparent.
 

Rifleman

Now owns 2 Model S's!!!
Nov 29, 2011
991
78
Harrison Ohio
The Volt 0-60 is 8.9s and the Karma is 5.9s (as tested, despite FA saying 6.3). 3s is notable. To say the Volt and the Karma are comparable is to also say a Jag and a Ford Fusion are comparable (ditto on a Coach/LV purse/wallet vs. generic Walmart purse/wallet)- people pay a premium for a 'luxury' product - that is reflected in tech/performance of course but also style. Stand in front of the two cars and you'll see what I mean, sit in both, and again, the difference and value become apparent.

I am not going to argue that the volt has the same fit and finish and overall build quality as the Kara, everyone knows that the Karma is a premium luxury car, while the volt is, well, a chevy.

I will make an argument on the 0-60 times, however. the 6.3 seconds advertized for the Karma is in sport mode. On the Karma (please correct me is I am wrong on this one, as I dont own a Karma) the ICE engine is required to get these numbers. The stealth mode 0-60 time for the Karma is advertised at 7.9 seconds. Faster than the Volt, no doubt, but not as drastic as the sport mode difference. I apologize for being wrong on in my above post, I was pulling numbers from memory, and not looking them up first. In my post above, I did reference the EV only 0-60 times, perhaps I should have been more specific.
 

TEG

Teslafanatic
Aug 20, 2006
21,815
8,830
I think our general sentiments are well represented in this thread so far, and I agree with most of them.

Henrik, himself, is (IMHO) a great designer. But being successful in the auto business as a start up is a monumental task, and they were not up to the task.
Tesla made certain things look easy to outsiders, who thought they "could just jump on the bandwagon", but it turns it wasn't as easy as they thought.

Personally, I never got very excited about Fisker's offerings, and always thought it unlikely that they would succeed, except maybe if their business plan was to sell out everything to a larger company at some point.
 

Rodolfo Paiz

Fidelius Family Office
Nov 19, 2012
788
108
Miami, FL
Henrik, himself, is (IMHO) a great designer. But being successful in the auto business as a start up is a monumental task, and they were not up to the task.

Let me add to this. Running a business requires the ability to run a business. Running a startup adds yet more challenges and requires greater ability, or luck, or something. There are some designers, architects, lawyers, and whatever else who also happen to be able to run a business, whether they learned it in school or maybe picked it up along the way.

But there are many who underestimate the challenges of entrepreneurship, take a condescending attitude toward the actual running of the business, and then pay dearly for that error of judgment. Fisker appears to be one of them.
 

SoCalGuy

Active Member
Apr 22, 2012
1,416
1,095
So Cal & New York, NY
I am not going to argue that the volt has the same fit and finish and overall build quality as the Kara, everyone knows that the Karma is a premium luxury car, while the volt is, well, a chevy.

I will make an argument on the 0-60 times, however. the 6.3 seconds advertized for the Karma is in sport mode. On the Karma (please correct me is I am wrong on this one, as I dont own a Karma) the ICE engine is required to get these numbers. The stealth mode 0-60 time for the Karma is advertised at 7.9 seconds. Faster than the Volt, no doubt, but not as drastic as the sport mode difference. I apologize for being wrong on in my above post, I was pulling numbers from memory, and not looking them up first. In my post above, I did reference the EV only 0-60 times, perhaps I should have been more specific.

Correct - the Karma in EV mode goes 0-60 in about 7.5-7.7s (as tested), so 1-1.5s than the Volt (don't recall if the Volt is slower in EV mode vs. range extend).

Fisker failed because Henrik was inexperienced at managing a business and a budget. Over $1.4B was invested to get Fisker's product to market, this after the EVer drivetrain (formerly the Q-drive) was supposedly already fully engineered for military applications. I think the Roadster cost something like $200M to bring to market, and the Model S something like $500-600M (correct me if this is wrong). Fisker just operated like Big Detroit where it should have been more dot-com lean. Plain and simple. Have met and interacted with several at Fisker I know they have great people, but corp culture is more rust belt than NorCal startup.
 

doug

Administrator / Head Moderator
Nov 28, 2006
16,927
1,041
SF Bay Area
They really did blow through a wad of cash, particularly given their initial approach of outsourcing everything. That didn't work out so well. It's interesting to look back and see what they were promising.

Four years ago:

The Next Detroit - Forbes.com

In the gloomy basement cafeteria of New York's Jacob Javits Center, Henrik Fisker is choking down a chicken sandwich and imagining a new kind of American car company. Almost everything is outsourced--engineering, components, the electric power train, manufacturing. No messy work rules to worry about, no postretirement health care. Only design and marketing remain in-house. ''It's a great time to launch a new car company like ours,'' he says, speaking at April's [2009] New York Auto Show, which was drowning in obituaries for the car business. ''We have a different business model.'' If you were a semiconductor executive, you'd call this a fabless car company.

I suppose it could have worked with the right partners, but these guys never really inspired confidence:

 
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aaronw

Member
Dec 19, 2012
292
0
United States
My father owns a Fisker Karma. I tried to talk him out of it, especially after I test drove one before he got his. I found the interior quite cramped in front for my 6'2" frame and the back seat is unusable for me. The trunk is tiny and for my purposes unusably small, and I can't even use the back seat for storage with the huge hump of the battery. While I think the car looks cool on the outside (except for that mustache grill in front) and inside, it is cramped. Acceleration is mediocre and for an eco-friendly car it only gets about 20 miles/gallon on gasoline. There is only one choice of tire which is custom made for the car.

When I test drove a Fisker before my father received his the car was constantly making "bong bong" noises while driving because it got stuck in some automatic parking mode that could not be reset. Plugging in a USB drive would crash the center console as well. I could not believe this was a production car. The software was maybe alpha quality, if that, and I say this as a software developer. At that point I wondered if there was any way a car company could survive with a product that buggy. It clearly had not been adequately tested. Granted, Tesla had their own set of problems with the Roadster, namely the transmission which almost sunk the company, but they were able to execute everything since then. They met their milestones in releasing the model S. They were not as ambitious as Fisker was in terms of all the features which is probably a good thing. Tesla also developed all of their technology in-house rather than outsourcing it.

The Fisker drive train is overly complicated with special linkage between the engine and generator to smooth out the output of the engine, plus they have to use two synchronous motors to help overcome torque ripple and to get enough power to move it. It boast a lot more torque of the model S (479 N-m for each motor for a combined 958 N-m vs 600 N-m for the model S) but the 0-60 time is over 6 seconds and acceleration at higher speeds is not all that great. I've heard claims that with software changes they could significantly improve acceleration, but they haven't done so.

My father's car has had numerous problems with weird unexplained error codes regularly popping up. His car shut down while driving over Sonora Pass. Fisker was going to send a tow truck until they realized where he was then had him shut down and restart the car to limp home. He had to shut down and restart it a couple more times on that trip to get home. There have been a lot of issues between his dealer and Fisker in terms of repairs, with Fisker not being all that forthcoming. Then there was the fires. One caused by a fan but the other in a Texas garage is still unexplained. He still loves his car, but asked Fisker whether it was safe to take it on a drive about 530 miles on a trip after the last unexplained error codes where they towed it to the shop. They had to replace some major components of his drive train as well as re-route some of the CAN bus wiring since they thought some of the random errors were caused by electrical noise in the system.

The car is quite buggy IMO and was released well before it should have been. Fisker promised to release a major software update last month to fix many of the display problems but so far nothing has been released. Whoever designed the UI clearly had no concept of what is required in a car environment where you're jostled about and don't want to be distracted looking for tiny buttons that can't be seen when the sun hits the display.

As others have said, the solar panel roof is a gimmick. I'd much rather have my Pano roof.

That isn't to say that my Tesla model S is perfect either. I ran into the infamous Pano roof creaking problem and they didn't properly detail the car before I got it and the alignment was way off. Fortunately Tesla addressed the issues fairly quickly. There are some features on the Fisker Karma I wish the model S had. Parking sensors would be nice and maybe even parking assist and I think the sun visors could be improved and the amenities for the rear seat could be improved, i.e. cup holders, USB charging ports and another 12v power outlet. The Karma also has rear seat heaters. I think the seats in the Karma may be a bit more comfortable as well, but the cramped feeling of the interior easily offsets any advantage that may have. Oh, I also love the paint on my father's Karma. It's a deep red similar to the Signature red but with glass flakes in it that make it sparkle nicely.

The Fisker Karma was overly ambitious and complex for a first vehicle from a new car company, especially when a lot of the engineering was farmed out to third parties. A123 for all of the battery technology and Quantum for the drive train. Fisker was a design company, not an engineering company, and what it comes down to is that they have a beautiful design full of engineering problems. Fisker also had unrealistic sales goals. They expected to sell 15-20K Karmas. Despite the fact that they haven't manufactured a car since last July and 300 were wiped out by Sandy you can still buy a brand new Karma.

Tesla's Roadster was a much less ambitious project. They started with AC Propulsion's design then realized that they had to engineer their own design from the ground up. They farmed out the transmission, which was a disaster until they did their own, and ended up having to heavily modify the Lotus design to make it work. They learned their lessons having spent a lot less money than Fisker did. Since then they've executed nearly perfectly. They built a state-of-the-art factory after hiring the best qualified people they could find for a song and bought equipment at firesale prices while other auto manufacturers were shuttering plants. They also tested the hell out of the model S to make sure that their design was solid. While they've had a few software glitches I suspect there will be a lot fewer software problems going forward as they've learned to improve their testing.
 

Zythryn

Model Y custom Warming Stripes wrap.
Mar 18, 2009
2,173
1,191
Minnesota
** steps onto soapbox, looks sternly at the audience, slides half-rimmed glasses to edge of nose **

We should all be very conscious of terms used on the forum, so as to avoid misleading a less-informed public. It would only serve to damage the BEV/EREV community even more. Fisker never had "battery fires". Their fire issues stemmed from mechanical issues completely unrelated to the battery.

** remove glasses, slowly step off soapbox **

** steps onto an entirely different soapbox, grabs microphone, clears throat **

Fisker's business plan was the failed model. ...

+1 +1 +1 +1 +1!!!!!!!!!!
 

chimpanzee

Member
Dec 8, 2007
178
0
pasadena, ca
....

That isn't to say that my Tesla model S is perfect either.
I ran into the infamous Pano roof creaking problem and they didn't properly detail the car before I got it and the alignment was way off. Fortunately Tesla addressed the issues fairly quickly. There are some features on the Fisker Karma I wish the model S had. Parking sensors would be nice and maybe even parking assist and I think the sun visors could be improved and the amenities for the rear seat could be improved, i.e. cup holders, USB charging ports and another 12v power outlet. The Karma also has rear seat heaters. I think the seats in the Karma may be a bit more comfortable as well, but the cramped feeling of the interior easily offsets any advantage that may have. Oh, I also love the paint on my father's Karma. It's a deep red similar to the Signature red but with glass flakes in it that make it sparkle nicely.

The Fisker Karma was overly ambitious and complex for a first vehicle from a new car company, especially when a lot of the engineering was farmed out to third parties. A123 for all of the battery technology and Quantum for the drive train. Fisker was a design company, not an engineering company, and what it comes down to is that they have a beautiful design full of engineering problems. Fisker also had unrealistic sales goals. They expected to sell 15-20K Karmas. Despite the fact that they haven't manufactured a car since last July and 300 were wiped out by Sandy you can still buy a brand new Karma.

Tesla's Roadster was a much less ambitious project. They started with AC Propulsion's design then realized that they had to engineer their own design from the ground up. They farmed out the transmission, which was a disaster until they did their own, and ended up having to heavily modify the Lotus design to make it work. They learned their lessons having spent a lot less money than Fisker did. Since then they've executed nearly perfectly. They built a state-of-the-art factory after hiring the best qualified people they could find for a song and bought equipment at firesale prices while other auto manufacturers were shuttering plants. They also tested the hell out of the model S to make sure that their design was solid. While they've had a few software glitches I suspect there will be a lot fewer software problems going forward as they've learned to improve their testing.

The fact is that both Fisker & Tesla Motors are immature companies trying to be "major players". Simply put, they're POSERS.

The bugs in the Model S are apalling for a $50K - $100K pricepoint luxury sedan. Buyers at this price point expect near PERFECTION, which it is clearly NOT. Model S sounds like a poorly executed "wannabe" design. The intent is there, but Execution is NOT.

Hate to say it, but Tesla Motors is simply delaying the INEVITABLE: failure (like Fisker)

"you scratch, the GAME'S OVER"
-- Mitch MacAleer, champion aerobatic hang-glider pilot

Somewhere down the line, there's gonna be a CRISIS. (every Mfr has them) Model S recall, which will kill off sales.

Tesla Motors doesn't have the "deep pockets" (critical mass), to survive a crisis.

There's a GLARING PROBLEM with Tesla Motors. It's based on MONEY, not IP (Intellectual Property)..aka R&D. The Roadster production delay highlighted a red-flag:

lack of R&D for the multi-speed gearbox mated to electric motor (instantaneous torque curve), high stress load

Xtrac & others simply didn't have the time for R&D to pull it off..


There was an Xtrac Development Partner (good friends with the team), who had the EXACT same problem as Tesla Motors/Roadster: gearbox BREAKAGE. It took them over a YEAR, to "get the bugs out" using Empirical Approach. I.e., return broken tranny to Xtrac, beef up the broken parts, do some 3rd party R&D (by Development Partner). They won their FIRST RACE the following year, followed by strong finishes in later races (podium & win)

The Model S is a "grenade waiting to go off", there is NO DATA for long-term Durability/Reliability. The buggy release of Model S is a real red-flag! Expect a crisis "down the road" which could take down Tesla Motors. It avoided bankruptcy in Xmas 2008 (down to 10 million cash), but just "set them up" for a future crisis.

Basically, Fisker & Tesla Motors are prototyping the following "Proof of Concept":

"we can spent a TON of $$ trying to be a veteran Auto Mfr, get an initial product out, but CAN'T SURVIVE long-term"

This whole thing is about to be a "giant waste of taxpayer $$'s" for some rich entrepreneur playboys. Following in footstep of other failures:

- Solyndra (500 million $$ wasted)

couldn't compete with Chinese inexpensive solar arrays flooding the market

- A123 (250 million $$ wasted)
couldn't compete with foreign companies (experienced), got bought out by Chinese company
 

AnOutsider

S532 # XS27
Apr 3, 2009
11,957
200
I'm far from someone who gives Tesla a pass on everything, but the above reads as a rant from someone with an agenda. Sure, sh*t could hit the fan, but that could happen in any company and with each milestone Tesla is stepping farther away from that.

GM was a true big player and not a poser by your logic... they still went under.

As for waste of tax payer money, Tesla has a LOAN that they are repaying,possibly sooner if that's tomorrow's announcement. I believe the government will make money there. GM got a bailout.
 

vfx

Well-Known Member
Aug 18, 2006
14,790
40
CA CA
So Xtrac solved the Roadster gearbox problem by mechanical iterations Tesla solved it by doing what it does best. They beefed up the electronics and simply eliminated shifting altogether. They had delivered about 40 cars with gearboxes that were doomed to not work more than 5000 miles. All those cars had the gearboxes swapped out long before that. Sounds like they learned their lesson just fine. All your "not enough testing" rants have no basis in fact.

And for a company that has no IP, Tesla doing pretty well selling it to Damlier (the world's oldest car company and Toyota the best selling car company.

When will this Chimpanzee rant get sent to it's own thread like all the others?
 
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