A life lesson that most auto buffs learned from their parents is never buy a first-release vehicle, especially if it is bearing new technology. It is bound to have tons of bugs that will drive you insane. Well, when you dump $100K on a new car, you kind of expect it to be about as bug-free as possible. In the last year, we have seen two new cars come out bearing very new technologies, the Fisker Karma and Tesla Model S .
The Model S has moved along relatively unscathed with only minor complaints here and there. The Karma, on the other hand, has had a slew of issues and complaints. Oh, and this nasty little habit of spontaneously combusting when it’s parked.
Some of these bugs are being addressed in a very lukewarm sort of way, via a Fisker -created document called the “Customer Town Hall FAQ.” Some of the highlights include Fisker admitting that its navigation system pretty much stinks and they will “investigate ways to improve system performance” and Fisker realizing that they forgot to include a mute feature for the oft-error-filled navigation system. So, not only do you have a navi system that’s incorrect, but one that constantly blurts out “Left turn ahead” in the wrong places without the ability to mute it... Hmmm.
An odd one is a complaint that the engine still comes on when the car is in “Stealth” mode — a mode where it’s supposed to be noiseless. Fisker answered this by basically saying “the engine needs lubed,” “the emissions system runs with the fuel door open,” and “the high-voltage battery may ask for a charge when it really doesn’t need one.”
The biggest FAQ is when asked about software upgrades becoming free, Fisker simply says only warranty items will be free; anything that improves the functionality of existing will always carry a fee. Nearly every other car manufacturer performs these types of upgrades free of charge, what makes Fisker think they don’t need to? If GM will update my sister’s 160,000-mile Saturn’s computer for free (done a few weeks ago), why won’t Fisker update its year-old Karma’s unsatisfactory systems?
We guess Fisker needs a few more investors before they can afford that.
Click past the jump to read the entire “Customer Town Hall FAQ.”
gallery: Fisker Karma
Q. Are there any plans to improve the Command Center functionality and interface?
A. Yes, we are currently working on improving the command center functionality and interface on all current Karmas.
Q. Will the daytime/nighttime screens come back (White/Black background)?
A. Yes, we are planning to implement Day/Night modes (White/Black contrast) in the next model year. This update will be available to all current Karmas.
Q. I have 615 so why do I still get a blue screen during some reverse efforts?
A. In rare occurrences, a blue screen may briefly appear when transitioning from Reverse to Drive.
Q. Is there any possibility the command center hardware will be replaced/upgraded in the future?
A. Fisker Automotive will continue to research ways to improve performance and responsiveness. There are no plans for hardware upgrades for existing Karmas.
Q. Why is the Command Center slow and unresponsive?
A. Similar to your desktop or laptop, your Karma possesses its own computer, the Command Center. This system needs to fully boot-up before any actions are taken. If the system does not fully load before you begin using the system, you may experience delays. For example, if the “Agree” button is pressed as soon as the vehicle is turned on, this command may not register until the screen has fully loaded. Please wait at least 5 seconds for the system to process your selection.
Also, when selecting other screens such as Audio, Phone, Navigation, or System there may be a slight delay in the initial actions. However, once all of the programs have loaded, you can toggle between different screens quickly.
Q. Are there plans to update or overhaul the Navigation system?
A. Currently, we do not have any plans to update the Navigation System. We will continue to investigate ways to improve system performance.
Q. Is there any way to mute the Navigation voice guidance?
A. Currently there is no option to mute the voice guidance on Navigation.
Q. Will software updates be provided to existing customers free of charge?
A. Specific warranty issues that require flash updates will be performed under the normal terms of the Fisker warranty. We strive to continuously improve our product features. In the future, software upgrades which improve functionality, navigation or other features may be made available and can be installed at the request of an owner by an authorized Fisker Retailer for a fee.
Gas Engine in Stealth Mode
Q. While driving in Stealth mode, the engine has twice turned on by itself, even though the car shows Stealth. Why did this this happen and is this common? It did not turn off even after hitting Sport and Stealth again.
A. It is normal operation for the gasoline engine to run when the vehicle is in Stealth Mode. There are 3 conditions when the engine will operate in Stealth Mode:
1.Anytime the vehicle is re-fueled or the fuel door button is pressed, the engine will run to perform a fuel-evaporation emissions test.
2.The engine will run at set intervals to keep all internal engine parts lubricated.
3.The engine will run anytime the high voltage battery requests a charge. Even with plenty of battery power remaining, the high voltage battery may need a specific cell charged to balance the pack so it will engage the internal combustion engine. This is a normal function of the Power Management System.
Q. When will the Solar Animation Screen become functional?
A. The solar panel animation screen in the Command Center is still being developed. Due to the graphics interface and the amount of CIU resources it required, we are redesigning how this information is displayed in the future.
Q. Is it possible to remove the “Agree” screen altogether? Other vehicles just show a warning screen, but do not require the customer to click “agree”?
A. No, we are legally obligated to display this disclaimer. We are exploring options to automatically advance through this disclaimer.
Q. The Bluetooth connectivity is noisy and the performance is very poor. When will the Bluetooth sound quality improve?
A. We are investigating the issues which are causing poor Bluetooth performance.
Q. Would a new software update allow the display of songs that are playing on the Bluetooth interface?
A. New software would not add this functionality as the limitation is with the Bluetooth protocol stack.
Cooling Fan Runs During Charging
Q. Can I plug in the Fisker Karma while the fan is still running?
A. The recommended practice is to let the car go to sleep (wait 2 minutes, PRND light turns off) before plugging in to the charger. Plugging in to charger while the fan is running will prolong the fan running time and reduce the efficiency of the charging cycle but will not harm any components.
Q. Why does the fan turn on while my vehicle is charging?
A. This is normal operation and is required to keep electronic components at an optimal temperature during charging.
Q. Does the cooling fan run off the 12 volt battery or the High Voltage Battery?
A. The cooling fan is powered by the 12 volt battery. If the 12 volt battery falls below a certain threshold, then the Intelligent Battery Sensor will active the Auxiliary Power Module . This module takes voltage from the high voltage battery and steps down the voltage to charge the 12 volt battery.
Charge High Voltage Battery in Sport Mode
Q. Does Fisker plan on giving users the ability to ‘recharge’ the battery while driving in Sport like we experienced in the Road Show?
A. Our Fisker engineering team deemed it more efficient for the high voltage battery to be charged via a charge station rather than being charged by the gasoline engine/Sport Mode. When the HV Battery was being charged in Sport Mode the engine was required to operate at a higher RPM which decreased fuel economy and increased emissions. The current program allows for higher operating efficiency and lower emissions while still allowing the vehicle to extend its range.
Q. My side view mirrors have been replaced twice and they tried to fix it a third time. They will not retract or deploy manually or automatically. When will this be resolved?
A. The issue with the mirrors burning out and having to be replaced has been resolved in the 6.28 software upgrade.
A123 Battery Exchange
Q. What is the status of the battery exchange program?
A. The program is on track to begin in Q4 of 2012 once supplies of new battery packs are available.
Q. How do I know if my battery is affected, and when will it be replaced?
A. We are in the process of determining the specific VINs that are affected by the A123 battery exchange program. We will be proactively replacing all battery packs throughout the year. You will be notified later this year if your vehicle is affected.