The Fisker Karma is a lovely car. It's long, low, striking, and sort of looks like a couple of mermaids going at it in a sleeping bag. It also costs over $100 grand, and has certainly had its share of little annoyances. Like fires and such.
So when you combine an exclusive, expensive car with recurring issues, you'd think the company would be absolutely bending over backwards to make their customers wildly happy in every way they can. Especially considering the large amount of government funding at play. Well, luckily for those of us not fortunate enough to have a hundred large to throw around, that doesn't seem to be the case.
Jalopnik has come into possession of a document sent to some, but not all, Fisker Karma owners. The document, engagingly titled Customer Town Hall FAQs, has also found its way into Fisker forums, and reveals a number of disappointments for Karma owners.
For example, the navigation UI and operation have been a source of much complaint; our source expressed a lot of frustration with the current system. The document acknowledges the poor performance, and does suggest that software upgrades will be coming to fix some issues — at a price. You'd think if you pay the cost of roughly four FR-Ses for a car they can throw the damn updates in for free. Hell, even Apple gives bug fixes for free. I can't imagine the revenue stream is that great from software updates, so this move seems ill-advised, and will probably just annoy owners.
There's also a nice little bit of schadenfreude for those of us driving crappy old cars without nav systems at all. It seems there's no way to shut the voice off on the nav system. This brings up a fascinating philosophical question: is it better to have no nav system at all, or a nav system where you can never stop the damn robot lady from asking you to make a U-Turn every 500 feet? I suspect there will be a number of Karmas brought in to dealers in the future with fist damage to the nav screen.
There's other questionable things, like the change so the battery is not charged while in 'sport mode', which differs from cars that were shown to potential customers, and a 'stealth' mode where the gas engine can still come on. That sort of defeats the point of 'stealth' mode, right? I mean, how are you supposed to quietly drive by the pool or bathroom windows of your stalkees if the damn engine's going to kick on?
None of these issues is particularly damning, by itself, but one would think that a car company with the goals and ambitions of Fisker would be trying a bit harder to keep their normally pampered clientele happy. I know it's not easy, but they knew what they were getting into. So come on, guys. Have some pity on the poor rich bastards who drive your cars, and get the nav robot to shut up.
UPDATE: Fisker provided the following statement:
At Fisker Automotive we believe that we are being innovative and customer focused by holding regular Town Halls and getting feedback and a dialogue started with our first owners. We believe that this is something that no other OEM has ever attempted and will enable us to continuously develop and improve the Karma. Many customers have become vocal Fisker advocates because of the way that we have approached and tackled some of our initial software issues.
Our company is built on a culture of design, quality, safety, and our customers. While we admit we are not perfect, we are listening to our customers and improving our products together with that input. We believe in open 2-way dialog with our owners as they are our ambassadors and deserve to know where we are in our business and quality improvements. Furthermore, we feel honesty is the best policy, and encourage the facts, not the fiction to go on record.
Furthermore, we agree bug fixing and other necessary updates will be necessary as the product improves throughout its life cycle. These updates will always be performed without a charge to our customers. However, not unlike other manufacturers, when new operating systems are available or virus updates are published, these non-mandatory or cosmetic updates will be up to the owners to decide and potentially purchase. A clear example would be a design change to instrumentation which just adds a different look or arrangement say in a model year change.