Bad Karma: Part II

Long, but not on production numbers.

Long, but not on production numbers.

In my first post on this blog, I “reviewed” the Fisker Karma, a Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV). The post, while recognizing some unique design and build features, was largely bearish on the car; citing the exorbitant cost and limited electric range among other things, that make the car a poor ambassador for electrified vehicles.

It’s maybe no coincidence that today’s Wall Street Journal has an article detailing Fisker’s hunt for a partner in order to avoid Chapter 11 and continue production, after selling only 2,000 units (the Nissan Leaf averages close to 2,000 units per month).According to the article, the Fisker is looking for partners to lower production costs and to help launch the Atlantic, a more affordable PHEV that they hope to produce at increased volumes.

It’s great that Fisker finally realized that a $100,000 PHEV with a range of 32 electric miles is not going to make for a sustainable car company, but they are still on the wrong track. Any potential partner would be delusional to to think continued production of the Karma, or even the Atlantic, is wise.

It’s not entirely the Karma’s fault. There’s little market (long-term) for PHEVs. Chevy Volt, the most successful among them, is again seeing idled production thanks to high inventory levels, and as pure EVs like the Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus EV continue to come down in price while increasing range, ultra-low range PHEVs will become even less justifiable, at any cost.

It’s true that there were and are quality issues associated with the Karma, including battery maker A123 Systems battery units, but it’s deeper than that. If you’re going to ask someone to spend $100,000 plus on an electrified car, it better compete with gas-powered  cars costing six figures.

In the end, sub-compact comparable cargo space combined with a 6 second 0-60 time just isn’t going to cut it. Fisker might want to take a drive to north to Fremont, California if they want to learn how to build a true electrified super-car.

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