Fisker Emphasizes Its Focus On Product Quality

Fisker quality measures  -  from New York Auto Show presentation

Fisker quality measures - from New York Auto Show presentation

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Things aren’t easy for boutique automaker Fisker these days. First, a Karma  manufacturing defect prompted a battery-related recall, which was quickly followed by a second recall for software issues.

That second Karma recall prompted an apology to owners from Henrik Fisker himself, and then things seemed to quiet down a bit.

Until, that is, Consumer Reports experienced problems with its just-purchased Karma, which proved unable to make it though the magazine’s check-in process. Suddenly, critics were saying that the Karma was rushed to market long before it was ready for release.

Fisker knows that it’s already gotten a tarnished reputation for quality, so it’s taking steps to correct that. In a recent presentation, Fisker offered up a slide entitled “Moving Forward,” displayed above.

Fisker is providing Karma owners with roadside assistance, American-based call centers staffed 24/7 and a 60 month, 60,000 mile vehicle warranty.

In addition, it’s creating a 50-member “SWAT Team” to address quality issues, and promises to conduct aggressive reliability and durability testing.

Fisker is also committed to ongoing software development, in order to continuously improve existing products and performance.

This commitment to quality, likely driven by new CEO Tom LaSorda, sounds like the automaker is moving in the right direction. Is it enough action on Fisker’s part, or will these steps equate to fighting a forest fire with a garden hose?

Give us your thoughts below.


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Comments (11)
  1. Come on, The new CEO is after DOE taxpayer money before Fisker go down the toletee!

  2. This is expected and appropriate action. Fisker is doing all it can to bring out a quality product, and I expect these problems with the Karma to be unimportant to purchasing decisions since they are being dealt with. This experience also makes it even more important for the Atlantic to be put through more rigorous tests before being released to the public. Tough times breed a tougher product.

  3. This slide is basically a reiteration of their announcement on the 26th of March immediately following the A123 recall/replacement announcement.

    They're, quite honestly, taking all the right steps. The non-owner public opinion is the only one (somehow) ever skeptic or unsatisfied with the company. Very few owners have issues, much less issues that go unresolved. There is really only one owner issue I have seen brushed off and it's likely the driver's own driving habits at fault anyway.

    In short, the only forest fire raging is in form of the visage assembled by the rumor-mill and kept fueled by skeptic media. It's almost like the Chevy Volt thing, re-fried!

  4. @Randy: Can you provide more detail on the idea that "it's likely the driver's own driving habits at fault" for "only one owner issue" with Fisker?

    I ask because we've driven the Fisker Karma twice here at GCR. On the first drive, the instrument panel went dark and the car had to be put to sleep and restarted before it came back. On the second drive, a group event with many cars, several drivers experienced a center-display blackout when they plugged an iPod into the USB port. Those are flaws that would never make it out the door at a large global automaker.

    We've followed Fisker fairly closely here, and I'm not entirely sure what your comment refers to. More details, please!

  5. The issue(s) you're referring to are related to software issues. It's not one that's been brushed under the table. Fisker is working on updates. I agree, though, that these are issues likely not to occur with vehicles from larger manufacturers. That's all part of growing pains, though, and I think most owners are, and have been, understanding of that. The ver 6.15 software is making its way onto vehicles as we speak and so far it seems to be a big help, specifically on the issues you mentioned (blackout, audio, etc.) and also fixing the check engine light. I think having LaSorda on board has been a good turnaround.

  6. As far as the one issue that I have heard of actually being brushed under the table, it had to do with electric range. An owner getting just over 30mi was upset that others were getting around 40, sometimes over... Fisker basically told him that his range was within normal specs. I don't know of an update on this, but some seemed to think it was his driving habits at play.

    As far as the car itself, sure there are some creature comforts lacking and, yeah, the nav display is small, and this and that... In the end, I still see Fisker working hard to right all the wrongs. In reading most articles, it seems like more people want them to fail than to succeed. Given what they've done so far and the obstacles they're handling, I say wait and see.

  7. @Randy: Thanks for the additional details. Much appreciated.

    Do you have a connection to Fisker, or are you simply an interested fan? Do you own one or do you work for, or with, the company?

  8. @John- No, I'm neither owner nor employee. I'd hardly even go so far as fan, but more someone who just follows a lot in the industry. I run and do know a few guys within various car companies.

    Like I said, the 6.15 software was put out a few days ago and lots of cars are getting it. Takes a few hours to install, but seems to be correcting a lot of the issues. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

  9. A little more detailed reporting from an owner can be found by Googling "EVcast #417: Bo's Got His Fisker!"

    Bo seems to really like the car, but he acknowledges that he is an "early adopter" and willing to put up with small issues.

    For me, one of the more telling comments was the following. After many trips to the dealer to fix problems, Bo was eventually told to ignore the "check engine" light. Basically Fisker is overwhelmed with problems with the vehicle and cannot hope to keep Bo's "check engine" light off. Perhaps in a few months, they can work down the problem list.

    But in fairness, Bo is driving the car every day and likes it. So perhaps these are "small" problems.

  10. Well, they're not all dead alongside the road...
    Saw my first one today...
    May be the usual for most of you, but this was in Minnesota, 30 miles out of Minneapolis, and it was, at that.
    And I have to say, it is a very, very attractive car.

  11. We have 6.15 Software installed ( 4+ hrs yesterday) and the Karma runs better than ever. Many software bugs/issues, if not all have been fixed. The car even accelerates a bit faster and holds charge about 10% longer.

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