What Now For Fisker Karma Owners: Are V-8s Their Likely Fate?

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The 2012 Fisker Karma is one of the most striking vehicles on the road today.

It's also on its way to becoming an orphan.

With just 2,000 or so made, the low, sleek four-door luxury sport sedan and its range-extended electric drivetrain haven't been produced for 10 months.

Some dealers have discounted the $106,000-plus car to sell for as little as $80,000, according to AutoblogGreen early last month.

Fisker Automotive is seemingly near bankruptcy, having laid off most of its employees on April 5 with no bailout deal in sight.

We hear through the grapevine that several Fisker dealers have severed all ties with the company and are now refusing to service cars they sold mere months before.

No dealers are listed anywhere that we could find on the Fisker Automotive website, which still touts the 2012 Karma.

So it looks dire for the owners who paid more than $100,000 for a relatively complicated car with quality problems.

What happens now?

Well, one possibility is to yank out the electric drivetrain and drop in a V-8. In fact, a Chevy V-8 similar to the one used in entry-level Corvette sports cars.

As it turns out, the boutique carmaker VL Automotive--which showed the Destino concept at this year's Detroit Auto Show--is still planning to do small runs of Fisker bodies with good old-fashioned V-8s in them.

It says it has orders for about 100 Destinos, many from the Middle East, each one to retail for roughly $185,000 or so.

2012 Fisker Karma during road test, Los Angeles, Feb 2012

2012 Fisker Karma during road test, Los Angeles, Feb 2012

Enlarge Photo

VL may buy unsold Karmas from dealers looking to get rid of them, the company said.

And, according to Ward's Auto (via Motor Authority), VL is quite willing to convert existing Fisker Karmas over to V-8 power as well.

The company said it's gotten "hundreds of inquiries" from existing Karma owners. All that's required for the conversion is one Fisker Karma and a check for $85,000 or $90,000.

What do you think: Is the ultimate fate for Fiskers to be converted to raucous combustion engines that match their low, sleek looks?

Or should owners retain the range-extended plug-in electric powertrain and drive as much as possible on electricity?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.


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Comments (69)
  1. I wonder how many batteries you could fit in that thing if you took out the range extender altogether? I expect it would have a lot more (electric) range and be more reliable.

  2. I suspect you would still have a VERY pricey EV--which already exists in the form of a Tesla S sedan! And you still have support issues! ;-)

  3. Methinks the Fisker Karma will go down in history as another "failed experiment" of a U.S. manufacturer that had tried its hand at hybrid/electric transportation, netting "superstars" like Justin Beiber along the way.

    At 2,000 vehicles, it's a footnote at best in automotive history. And while it would be best if they went all-electric, it's probably cheaper/easier to make all of them all-ICE?

  4. Hey...wait a minute! Wasn't dealership support if the manufacturer failed one of the reasons NADA gave for why Tesla shouldn't sell direct to customers? Who could have guessed that a car dealer's association would lie?

  5. Making it all electric won't save it.

    It got a substandard chassis to start with and no breakthrough in technology....

  6. Mr Li you clearly have no idea what you are talking about? What is your knowledge or commitment to electric cars? I am a Fisker Karma owner. The Karma has Aluminum space frame with double wishbone suspension and pulls more G (better cornering) than my wife's BMW 7 series. Regarding technology, the reason I bought it besides the obvious beauty, it has many advanced technology features such as being the first car in the world to allow the driver to switch from gas to electric and back. This is a major breakthrough giving consumers the power to go as green as they want to be. American engineering at its best!

  7. No offense Paul, but I really hope you're wrong about that "American engineering at its best" thing. 20 MPG on gas isn't going to win any innovation prizes. I'm glad you like your car, though.

  8. Norm sorry you read too much blogs and not rely on actual numbers. The car is meant to give the driver the freedom and ability to drive how they want. You have range because of the range extender and the ability to have over 100mpg because of the novel plug-in hybrid technology!

  9. The 20 MPG I quoted is the EPA rating for city driving on gasoline only, and it requires premium too - from govenment ratings website and Wikipedia, but thanks for playing.

  10. I have had my Fisker Karma since early February 2012 have now have nearly 10,000 miles on the odometer and have been getting over 500 MPG as I rarely have to drive more than 40 miles per day. Hopefully the company will find their way through the current crisis.

  11. Norm, You said it your self it gets 20MPG on GAS ONLY! You get up to 50 miles per day of electric only. Real Karma drivers are getting from 20-400+ MPG. Driver input will dictate what you will get. Try doing more reasearch than just going to Wiki and then acting like your an expert thats just ignorant, but thanks for playing.

  12. @Dude - "acting like your an expert that's just ignorant" - Acting? Who's acting? But maybe next time I'll visit the Planet of Made-Up Numbers like some of the other posters here and I can drag back something that meets your approval.

  13. Greg completely agree with you. Norm is not a Karma buyer today or tomorrow even if Fisker revives. He is simply a person with a negative bias who does not want to be educated. Norm your negative views are amusing at best!

  14. There are more comments in this thread
  15. Paul you clearly have no idea what you're talking about lol. It was not the first car in the world to allow the driver to switch from gas to electric -Mr. Li's Volt was lmao- As for your wife's 7 series it pulls 0.88g on the skidpad a Volt is capable of 0.083g and your Karma 0.87g. Aside from your aluminum frame NOTHING in your post has been accurate. Stats from Car&Driver btw. The car was crap, every time it's been compared to the Volt the Karma is called an overpriced underpowered cheaply built fat Volt and that's why the company is now BANKRUPT. You should have preordered a Model-S and waited or bought an EREV.

  16. Steven, Paul is actually right. I also am an owner and love my car. My husband and I researched several cars and found the Karma to have many great technology features and superb handling. None of us customers based our opinion on magazine reviews and made our own independent decision. We have seen how the engineers at Fisker worked so hard and also how our local dealer put in so much effort and resources. The company is still alive. I am confused why you would mislead people on this post or want Americans to loose their jobs? Are you an American?

  17. Mr Bowen your data is misleading to the forum. The Karma was time magazine 2011 top 50 inventions and 2012 Top Gear Luxury Car of the Year. The company is alive and all the customers are praying for its success.

  18. A note from the author of this article: Is it fair to assume, then, that few of the Fisker owners who have commented on this thread would be interested in swapping out their range-extended electric powertrain for the Destino V-8 system?

    Leave me your thoughts here. Curious to get a reading from those who have commented.

  19. @John Voelcker
    The only people interested in converting to the Destino are people that bought the car for its looks. That is a good enough reason to buy one for many people. Some people that own the Fisker NEVER plug it in and are just fine getting 20MPG because they would still be getting that or less in many of its competitors. It was named Karma because what you put into it is what you will get out of it. The Fisker looks that good and the driving/ownership experience is 2nd to none. People that own other exotics that cost much more prefer to drive the Fisker because of the instant torque, well balanced handling and attention you get while driving it. It has been out for 19 months now and people are still amazed at it when you driveby.

  20. Cause a TV show is a big award to achieve. The same people who had a lawsuit filed against them by Tesla. Yes, they're very credible. How is it a new invention when GM had already released the same type of EREV platform a year prior? Cause it's bigger and has eco interior? what a joke. The company is dead and not even Justin Beiber can save it lmao. The only person stupid enough to continue investing in a company that was a failure from the start.

  21. There are more comments in this thread
  22. Mr Bowen according to Motor Trend's test the Fisker Karma has a lateral G of 0.92G, which is better than the BMW 7 series, Audi A8 and S class. The karma handles far better than the 7 series, that's why I drive my car everyday.

  23. There are more comments in this thread
  24. OK.. now what.. Hi Paul.. I have a fisker.. What is killing me is that our dealers repair guys cant even log into the cars computers because access to fiskers website is needed for this to happen.. I COULD FIX IT IF I COULD GET INTO THE COMPUTER SYSTEM..

  25. There are more comments in this thread
  26. Retrofitting V-8's into Karmas is a giant step backward in the march towards a future in which the electric car is the new standard. Let us hope a white knight steps up with big bucks and fixes what ails the Karma, It deserves a future, even though it is out of my price range.

  27. Mr Bowen, you obviously love your Volt, that's great. BUT to compare a $40K car with a $100K car because of similar drivetrains, does not make any sense. Like nobody compares a $30K V8 with a $100K V8. People who drive $100,000 cars have several cars and can afford to buy a car for a specific purpose and enjoy that benefit. In regards to fires, that you mention, your Chevy Volt is the only battery electric car on the market today that had a battery related fire within 3 weeks after a crash test. The other battery fire that happened was from Tesla roadster. Fisker had one incidence of a fire related to an automotive fan. Regarding poor design, your Volt was recalled to get its body strengthened due to poor initial crash test results!

  28. Well, both Karma and Volt are considered as "EREV" so it is natural to compare the two. Nobody really compares Fisker Karma b/c there is nothing to compare since it sucks.

    As far as the fire is concerned on the Volt, maybe you should learn few facts first. Fisker Karma is NOT even tested by NHTSA yet. Why bother with crash testing if you can't even get it started (like what consumer report found out)? Or why bother with the work if it will just die on its own since most people isn't crazy enough to buy it.

    Also, comparing it to other large luxury car is stupid since Fisker Karma is so cramped inside. I guess it only works if you are as skinny as Justin B. Oh, didn't he even upgrade to Tesla? I would call that ouch!

  29. ^ I'd have expected this kind of vitriolic, myopic, anti-hybrid/anti-EV tirades on some conservatives forums, not here.

    All manufacturers of plug-in hybrids and EVs fell short of their sales target last year in the US. Maybe one effect they didn't anticipate is this constant, gratuitous bashing of their products, with the uninformed masses finding comfort or satisfaction echoing every possible misconception ever spread about them.

    People don't criticize films they haven't seen, restaurants they haven't gone to. But cars they haven't driven? Somehow everything goes. Sad.

    America badly needs more plug-ins and EVs, and the Karma is by far the best-looking so far. I really hope the company survives -- jobs are nice to have too after all..

  30. @Xiaolong: This is your friendly site moderator, reminding you (once again) to keep it POLITE. Please avoid the use of the word "sucks".

    There are plenty of ways to argue the merits of your case, using facts and statistics, without appearing to be quite so rude. Thank you.

  31. Oh, another reason that Karma sucks: it has given plenty of bad names to electric cars so it should just die quickly so we can all move on.

    As far as so called "superior technology" goes, what is superior again? Aluminum space frame has been used in other luxury cars for years. Double Wishbone suspension has been on the Honda Accord for years. Whatelse is there? Oh, the so called "beauty". You know the "joker face" grill? But I will let that one go since beauty is in the eye of beholder. That still go nothing to do with technology. EREV technology? Volt had it and cars from 1970s had it too.

    In fact, Karma can't even do its max power/speed in EV only (sports mode) where Volt can. So, how can you even call yourself EREV.

  32. Mr Li, please make an educated and professional argument. You are way too emotional and personal in your use of words. Consumers should able to make their choices based on personal decisions. You have in your post insulted the Karma drivers, the company workers, the car. And that is why no one believes, because your arguments are not logical and purely emotional.

  33. Educated? Those are facts. Look it up. Which one of them is NOT true? The alumium Space frame or the Double wishbone suspension or that Volt being the first EREV?

    Get over it. Apparently most the buyers of plugin has proven that Karma is NOT nearly as desirable as you think. Else, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

    But feel free to love it. It is your car and your choice.

  34. "You have in your post insulted the Karma drivers, the company workers, the car"

    Karma drivers? Why? b/c they made their choices? No, I insulted the car and design.

    There are people buying Yugo or Prius, or Lexus or Chevy for whatever reason. Sucky car is a sucky car.

    Company workers? well, sure. If they designed a car with a bad quality, then it is their fault. They should take price in the product that they work on. If there are quality issues, then it is workers fault, from CEO down to the assembly workers.

    I don't need you to believe anything. You already proved your capability here.

  35. Mr. Li (ar): you can't tell a mis-truth if you don't even know the truth. It is called ignorance. Your lack of information about how an electric motor runs and runs powerfully keeps you from understanding the comic books you read from....... give up trying please. You have deminstrated that you are not educable.

  36. Let us look at Karma's major tech contribution,

    Engine: GM, 2.0L turbo DI, used to be used on the Pontiac Solstices and Saturn Sky, both got discontinued.
    Twin Electric motors: Off the shelf.
    Battery: Supplied by A123.
    Charging rate: 3.3KW, the same as every other plugin cars out there.
    EPA interior space: 95 cu ft. Less than a Prius
    EV range among plugin: less than Volt.
    0-60mph compare to Tesla: Karma is slower

    EV mode efficiency is worse than Model S and EV range is worse than the Volt and gas efficiency is worse than a BMW 7-series with much more room.

    Please spare me with the "fake MPG" numbers. Those electric included mileages are meaning less. miles/KWh and extended range MPG are all that matters.

    All that for $100k.

  37. You sound like an angry man. Please keep emotions out. Maybe one day you will be able to afford a 100k dollar. Here in America we believe in being positive and supporting our innovation, and not using an agenda to write hate blogs.

  38. Those are facts. Prove me wrong if you think so.

    No, I don't have $100k to spend on a "junk" (in my opinion) car. I have said that many times, for the money, I could have bought a Tesla S and with money left over for BMW or a Volt.

  39. Its a pity your employer Mr Elon Musk did not offer you a Tesla or offer its employees the fabulous financing offer...instead hired you as a blogger to fake it on websites?

  40. Your logic is as twisted as your car purchase.

    Telsa doesn't need me to blog about how good it is. Every person who saw it want it. Just about every plugin owners at my work place want it.

    Nobody at my work place wants Fisker Karma.

    What the Fisker Re-org group is hiring you to convience the world how good that overpriced car is?

    I don't need to say anything more. The CR review has said plenty.

  41. More wild assumptions as the Fisker owners try desperately to defend their poor purchase decisions. I understand you're upset Laura that your now stuck trying to maintain a $100k failure and that soon it may become a worthless paperweight but accusing Li of being a Tesla employee or hired blogger is just pathetic.

  42. Mr Li has listed facts. If you interpret them as emotional that's you're own personal problem. I do however see a personal attack in your post that is hardly warranted. There was nothing innovative about the Karma. They took what Chevy had already put into production, made a more expensive and less efficient copy and they paid for it with the failure of their company.

  43. There are more comments in this thread
  44. "The Karma was time magazine 2011 top 50 inventions and 2012 Top Gear Luxury Car of the Year"

    When does Time magzine know for its "technology capability"?

    Also, Top Gear is a joke, it is NOTHING more than a TV show. They even admit it themselvs in court.

    You got to do better than that.

  45. Wow! U have a real ace to grind with Fisker. Tesla should have known before suing Top Gear and loosing to Top Gear that they are a comedy show!!! Now you think Time Magazine has no credibility!!! Seriously you have some serious views with no basis to them.

  46. I do since Fisker has given the Plugin/EV community so many black eyes. From poor quality to bad CR reviews, from terrible gas mpg to cramped space. Now, it is begging the Chinese investor for a "bailout"... That is why.

    Also, I have predicated its demise last year. I actually give it to 2014 before it is completely belly up.

    IMHO, Fisker and CODA should be both gone ASAP...

  47. "Fisker has given the Plugin/EV community so many black eyes" THIS is exactly why I hoped for years that Fisker would go under and disappear. The company has caused so much damage to something the rest of us have worked so hard to promote.

  48. "it has many advanced technology features such as being the first car in the world to allow the driver to switch from gas to electric and back. "

    Wrong. Volt was the first.

    "This is a major breakthrough giving consumers the power to go as green as they want to be. American engineering at its best! "

    Wrong! Tesla S is. And Tesla S is lighter, faster and more spacious. Not to mention that Tesla S is more efficient AND charges faster. Did I mention that it also cost less? Not to mention that Tesla S has more award in 1 year than Fisker Karma ever got in its life (which is about to end soon).

    Sorry that you have chosen "poorly". But that is okay. It is your car. Drive what you love. Just don't make the Karma a plugin "icon".

  49. Mr Li I think you do not drive a volt but are actually a Teala employee!

  50. Hahahha.

    You just proved that you have no clue on what you are talking about. It is a reflection of the car that you bought...

  51. Mr Li: 1. You have a vested interest to bash Fisker hence a biased opinion. 2. You are not a Volt driver as you wrongly write that the Volt allows the consumer to switch between gas and electric manually forth and back. If you drove a Volt, you would know that. 3. You are a Tesla employee faking your profile on this forum.

  52. You have proven again that you don't know much about cars, especially on Volt.

    Let me explain it a bit to you.

    1. 2013 Volt has an EV hold button that allow you to switch back and forth.
    2. On 2011 and 2013 models, you can use mountain mode to kick on the engine early after certain EV miles is drained (~13 miles left). Then you can switch it back to normal and the car will be in EV mode.

    3. The early 2011/2012 Ampera (European version of the Volt) already have the EV hold button.

    4. This just proved that you got no idea how Volt works.

    5. Just for your information, Volt's generator motor will spin up at 60mph to assist the main traction motor and in extended range, its gasoline motor will provide torque at 70mph+.

  53. Also, switching back and forth between EV and gas mode is no big deal. Many hybrids have some form of that capability. What is the point when both modes are inefficient relative to other plugins?

    Also, I am the person who is posting here with my name and my picture. You and the other person are posting with no name or picture verification whatsever. Who is more suspicious here? Especially considering your lack of posting record here.

    Also if you do some research, you will see that I made plenty of arguement against the Tesla S when the situation deserves it. But I don't expect you to do any real "research"...

  54. WOW you fail miserably and once again prove just how much wrong information you and Laura are willing to spew just to attempt at making an argument. I own 2 Volts. Oh crap I could've bought a Karma lmao. Volt has 4 modes that do allow choice of either generator use or battery use. Even if Li does work for Tesla, nothing he has said has been inaccurate which is far more than can be said for you two.

  55. Proof in Li's statements as of close today Tesla's stock is holding high at $92/sh. Loans are being repaid early. Fisker? Stopped producing cars last year, laid off 3/4 of its workforce, battery supplier went bankrupt, safety issues, recalls, fires, its loan was suspended in 2011 after a full YEAR of failing to meet criteria. They're the largest loss of federal loan money since Solyndra and a huge source of argument by those who want to see the end of EVs so we can just keep chugging along making investors rich off their fuel investments for the foreseeable future. Thank goodness Tesla, GM and Nissan know what they're doing or we'd be stuck thanks to Henrik Fisker and the blind fools who think the company made a great product.

  56. "Real Karma drivers are getting from 20-400+ MPG. Driver input will dictate what you will get"

    Well, that is the only case if you don't understand MPG. MPG is a measurement of efficiency. Energy consumption per distance. Of course, you can always manage to ONLY include gas consumed per mile. But that is BS MPG anyway.

  57. Discounted to $80,000? Why would anyone pay 85k for a car without any manufacturer support when they could buy a new Tesla for around the same price?

  58. Because we don't want range anxiety! Or have Tesla employees forcing the car down our throat.

  59. Listen to Laura: She knows what she is talking about. I have owned a Tesla and now have a much loved Fisker. Range anxiety is real and can't be easily ignored. Fisker has it all and can switch to the 20MPG mode if needed. Beats being left 20 miles to destination and nobody to bring you a gallon of electricity.

  60. Should have had a V8... Really Bob? How retro... What next? Hair die, gold chains, and spandex jogging suits? But I digress...

    It is obvious that most of you denizens of the basement have little or no knowledge of the internal workings of the Karma, Atlantic, Volt, or plug in technology in general.

    The Karma is technologically on par with the volt but with performance. The Technology required to execute Plug-in technology requires significantly more expertise and IP than an EV. After all electric vehicles were available and on the road in 1994 with induction machine and inverter technology. I.e the EV1. In addition, high power charging (50kW) was first tested and trial implemented in 1996 by GM.

    Enough for now.

  61. Mr Voelcker I respect you and your editorial. However, I am dissapointed that Tesla employees have overtaken your articles and are using it to insult and be rude to other readers trying to express their views. I'm afraid this is not appropriate and I urge to look further into some of the inappropriate comments being posted. We expect freedom of speech without insulting and being insulted or being pushed into buying a Tesla car or being solicited into buying Tesla stock!

  62. @Paul: Some of the comments here are certainly strong, and I'm sorry you feel insulted. I read all comments, and routinely drop notes to those who violate our Terms of Use (see link below every comment box).

    I also don't believe that these are Tesla employees making these comments. I rather suspect they are, instead, dedicated fans of the car. Just as Fisker has its fans, so too does Tesla.

    Frankly, the whole discussion is starting to remind me of debates between partisans of different pro sports teams.

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