While Part I of the Fisker Karma story introduced the car and its tech, and Part II reviewed the interesting combination of features and design mandates which accompanied the advanced tech, Part III is the one you’ve really been waiting for.
It’s all flames, floods, and failures.
After production and design delays, the Karma factory in Finland began producing cars in July of 2011. As previously mentioned, the first two consumer deliveries took place that same month. Throughout the remainder of 2011 and most of 2012, production continued without issue, but that’s not to say there were not other issues afoot. There were plenty.
In December 2011, Fisker recalled all cars built between July and early November that year, citing a coolant leak that could cause a battery fire. Some hose clamps were positioned improperly, meaning coolant could rain down on the battery inside the car and cause a campfire. Another recall occurred in August of 2012, as 2,400 Karmas were returned to fix a cooling fan issue (pretty much every single vehicle sold in the U.S. market).
Before the recalls, there were fires reported in parked Karmas in May and August 2012. In those cases, the cars caught fire when they were not in use. And that’s before Sandy came along in October of that same year.
That’s Hurricane Sandy. Karma units had been offloaded at the port in Newark, New Jersey shortly before Sandy struck. Flooding at the port took out 346 Karmas. Sixteen of them got so soaked with water that they caught fire, and the other 330 were flooded into scrap metal.
By then the house of cards was folding. Fisker relied on a single battery provider for its operation: A123 systems. The recalls were all for components manufactured by A123, which was not kind to the company’s balance sheet. As A123 filed for bankruptcy in October 2012, it ensured Karma production ground to a halt the very next month.
There was no more money to pay workers by March of 2013, and Fisker Automotive itself fell into bankruptcy in November of that year. The U.S. Department of Energy sold the debt, which would end up in the hands of Chinese automotive company Wanxiang.
From there, history split a couple of different ways. Wanxiang started a new car company called Karma Automotive, beginning production of a revised version of the Karma called the Revero in 2016. It’s still in production presently.
Founder of Fisker Automotive, Henrik Fisker, went his own way after the bankruptcy, starting Fisker Inc. in 2016. The company got to keep the original Fisker brand logo, and is currently developing two new models. One is a sedan called the EMotion, the other is an autonomous shuttle known as Orbit.
The particular Karma we’ve been eyeing over these past three installments is located in Philadelphia. With a rebuilt title (look at the panel alignments on the trunk), it’s asking $45,000.