Death by Car

capitalism's drive to carmageddon: news & comments

External Combustion

Fisker Karma, the world’s most expensive tinderbox:

The story.

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Karma, Indeed

This Fisker Karma may be the most aptly-named automobile ever. First, it became the only car ever to fail Consumer Reports‘ pre-test drive.

Now, like the Chevy Volt before it, it is apparently spontaneously combusting:

fisker_fire

This thing does seem to have inherited something of the sins of its forebears.

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Remember when the Chevy Volt was going to be an “electric” car, meaning one powered (confining one’s attention to the car itself) only by a battery? Remember how that worked out? Yep, a crappy, overpriced hybrid car with a gasoline-burning engine.

Remember, too, when Fisker Automotive was the cutting-edge “electric car” manufacturer that was going to put GM to shame with its sleek, truly high-tech products? Guess what’s happened to that publicly-subsidized promise? Yep, it, too, is vaporware. The next wave of Fisker products is going to have gasoline-burning engines.

Neither that fact, nor the laughable business performance of Fisker stops it from blowing massive smoke up the public’s backside. The model name for its (supposedly) forthcoming over-priced, gas-burning hybrid? The Fisker Nina. That’s right, Nina — as in the ship from the mini-armada that launched the Columbian Conquest/Columbian Exchange, a transition rightly described as the most significant event in human history since the rise of agriculture.

That’s about as subtle as a rock, and 100 percent pure baloney to boot.

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Place Your Wagers!

Bridge-to-NowhereWanna bet?:

LOS ANGELES — All Henrik Fisker wants is to build his plug-in hybrid cars and deliver them to customers — some of whom have been waiting three years since plunking down $5,000 deposits.

Instead, he has been fending off criticisms aimed at his green-car company as shipments of his $103,000 Karma plug-in hybrid sedan have been delayed by cash flow troubles, regulatory snarls and a recall.

But when a startup such as Fisker Automotive accepts a Department of Energy loan in a down economy, having the company tossed around like a political football comes with the territory. Fisker describes launching his first car in this environment as “running over fire while people are whipping you.”

It clearly hasn’t been easy. Supplier relations are frayed, and Fisker Automotive’s image has taken some hits in Congress and the news media. But the company is forging ahead toward big goals: delivering about 2,500 ordered Finnish-built Karma sedans by the end of the second quarter.  [Automotive News]

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$102,000 for Electrical Fires?

electric fire Apparently, the Chevy Volt’s tendency to burst into flames isn’t just a GM problem. The same issue — failure of battery cooling systems — exists in the IQ-test-for-rich-people known as the Fisker Karma:

Dec. 23 (Bloomberg) — A123 Systems Inc., the maker of batteries for electric vehicles, said it found a “potential safety issue” in batteries it supplies to Fisker Automotive Inc.

A123, which also sells batteries to automakers such as General Motors Co. and Daimler AG, said hose clamps that are part of the internal cooling system of its batteries supplied to Fisker were “misaligned” and may cause coolant to leak. Such a leak could lead to an electrical short circuit, David Vieau, chief executive officer, wrote in a memo on Waltham, Massachusetts-based A123’s investor-relations website.

One wonders how the car’s means of preventing electrical fires is going to perform after collisions, given that misalignment in manufacturing is a problem. Maybe Fisker will have its own battery shut-down squads roving the nation and swooping in after every crash. Or maybe not.

That’s the problem with increased complexity: It tends to create more ways for things to fail.

Of course, so long as we let capitalists dictate how we conduct our lives, they are going to continue insisting that we butter our toast with these profit-maximizing chainsaws.

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