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US publication Consumer Reports, which tests all kinds of retail products from cars to toasters, found itself without wheels this week when its Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid test car died during speedometer calibration testing.

Consumer Reports is unique in that it purchases all test products at retail level, as was the case with the Fisker Karma it was evaluating.

It had owned the US$107,850 ($101,200) car for just two days when a warning message flashed on the dashboard indicating a major fault. Consumer Reports’ technician managed to get the car off the track and into Park while trawling through the owner’s manual for a solution to the problem. At that point the Karma’s transmission failed to engage any gear except Park and Neutral, effectively dying.

The car was apparently left standing for an hour or so, before restarting and being able to select Drive mode. After moving forward only a few feet, the same ‘major fault’ message reappeared with the driver unable to engage of the gears except Park. Consumer Reports called the dealer who sent out a flatbed truck and the broken Fisker Karma was hauled away.

Consumer Reports says that it buys 80 cars a year and insists this is the first time a test car has broken down prior to completing the evaluation process.

All cars break down, even Rolls-Royces, but you probably wouldn’t expect a brand new Fisker Karma to shut down after just two days into ownership.

No doubt, it’s disappointing news for Fisker Automotive management, but launching an all-new car company from the ground up that uses an innovative drivetrain is huge endeavour and one that is bound to suffer teething problems.




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