Who doesn’t love a big car launch? It brings all of the enormous promises, the celebrity owners and promises of reinventing transportation as we know it. The hype, for lack of a better term, around new car reveals can be incredible — automakers swearing that this will be the next big thing, and that everyone needs to pay attention. But what happens when none of it pans out?
Today, we’re talking about the biggest flops in automotive history. The cars and carmakers that set huge expectations for themselves, made big promises, but never quite managed to actually live up to their own standards. Like a baseball swing, launching a new car is all about the follow through.
To be clear, a flop here means a vehicle that doesn’t live up to its own standards. You can’t say that the Ram TRX is a flop due to its fuel economy, because it never made promises about that — it’s a supercharged pickup truck, not a fuel-sipping economy car. Likewise, a Nissan Versa isn’t a flop for lapping the Nürburgring more slowly than a Porsche. This is about the expectations set by the car and its maker, not by armchair enthusiasts online.
With that in mind, my pick for the biggest automotive flop would be the original Fisker Karma. It debuted to the promise of eco-friendly luxury, a stunningly sleek design that ferried celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio to high-dollar Hollywood events. The Karma was going to make green cars cool, and cool cars green — and then it all came tumbling down. Issues at Fisker’s battery supplier led to recall after recall, and the company went under in short order. The Karma survived, but its momentum was severely dulled.
That’s one pick for the biggest automotive flop, but what’s yours? A “track-ready” car that blows its engine on track, or an “off-road” truck that can’t handle trails? Give us your best picks in the comments, and we’ll choose a few of our favorites tomorrow.