Fisker Automotive has had a torrid time in the months following the launch of the 2012 Fisker Karma.
Facing recalls, software upgrades and the news that a car died in the hands of Consumer Reports, an ex-employee of a Fisker retailer has now claimed that Fisker pushed the Karma to the market before it was ready, in order to meet government milestones for Department of Energy loans.
According to Gigaom, the former Fisker salesperson employee, who now works for a Coda retailer, left the company partly because of the amount of vehicles having technical issues.
[UPDATE: Fisker issued a statement late this afternoon addressing the controversy, which we have provided in full on the second page of this article.]
The claim would certainly explain some of the quality issues we found when driving the Karma a few months back, including electrical issues, poor fit and finish, and body panel gaps that would be unacceptable on the cheapest cars in the market.
Gigaom contacted Fisker, who returned the following statement:
“Quality and customer satisfaction are the top priority for Fisker Automotive. With any new technology there will be unanticipated bugs and we have demonstrated the ability to quickly resolve them on a case-by-case basis" adding that Fisker also has a 24-hour VIP call center and comprehensive warranty, for customers' peace of mind.
So was the 2012 Fisker Karma allowed onto the market before development was complete, or are its early problems simply inevitable teething issues associated with a startup automaker releasing a high-technology vehicle?
It's hard to judge at such an early stage, but the issues Fisker is experiencing need to be resolved quickly to preserve the company's reputation - if Fisker is to survive its early years.
2012 Fisker Karma during road test, Los Angeles, Feb 2012
On the afternoon of Thursday, March 15, Fisker distributed the following statement addressing the controversy. We have added links and done minor copy editing.
FISKER AUTOMOTIVE STATEMENT
FALSE AND MISLEADING INFORMATION ALLEGATIONS THAT FISKER RUSHED THE KARMA SEDAN TO MARKET
A number of blogs and media websites have recently published (and repeated) several false and misleading statements and allegations that Fisker Automotive rushed its Karma sedan to market even though it was not properly developed in order to meet certain milestones related to Fisker’s Department of Energy loan. Those allegations are absolutely untrue.
The San Francisco Chronicle identified the source of this information as John Hoffman, the store manager for Coda of Silicon Valley. Other sites, such as GigaOm, identified the source only as a former Fisker employee that now works for Coda. Given that Mr. Hoffman formerly worked at a Fisker retailer and now works at a Coda dealership and because the timing and nature of these statements are similar to those made in the San Francisco Chronicle article, we believe that the unidentified “insider” quoted by GigaOm and other sites is, in fact, Mr. Hoffman.
To be clear, Mr. Hoffman has never been employed by Fisker Automotive. He was briefly employed by a Fisker retailer. In any case, Mr. Hoffman was not privy to any business information from Fisker concerning the development of the Karma sedan and/or Fisker’s financing. Accordingly, Mr. Hoffman has no basis for his false and misleading claims.
These false published statements by Mr. Hoffman are having a negative impact on Fisker. Fisker is ready to take appropriate legal steps to protect its interests if necessary. However, at this point, we are in the process of contacting Mr. Hoffman and Coda of Silicon Valley and hope that they will cooperate to set the record straight.