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My Neighbor has a Karma

I'm eagerly awaiting the Delivery of my Model S P85 sometime this month. As I was finishing the installation of my solar array I see the very recognizable "smiley face" grill of a Fisker Karma turning down my street. I live in Eunice, a small oil town in SE NM. EVs are not popular here and Romney won this county by 40 points. Still in shock that my Model S will be next door to a Fisker Karma in a town of <5000. Neighbors apparently won it in Las Vegas so they aren't "EV people"... just hope they plug it in!

Did anyone seriously consider the Karma? I almost feel sorry for Fisker since it gets to roundly destroyed by the Model S. I doesn't go as far, even with gas. It's almost half as efficient, even on electric. It's less powerful than a P85, even with two motors. It's also more expensive. Has less room; etc, etc. Elon was dead on when he called it a "mediocre product at a higher price"

Thank you for adding substance to my suspicions on the engineering side. Tesla used the Roadster to learn the hard lessons and I have faith we MS owners will reap the benefits.


You're Welcome.

I can't look at the front of a Karma without immediately thinking of the movie Killer Klowns From Outer Space. How could they have designed that grill without a single person saying... "hey Bob, does this like like a maniacal clown face to you?"


Interesting observation, I get exactly what you are talking about in the pictures. When I first saw "wild" photos of the Karma I too thought that the grill was a bit too much. After seeing the Karma in person I think that the front end looks far less ostentatious. Is your observation based on seeing the car in the flesh or just in pictures?

The Fisker Karma comes with free maintenance during the warranty period. This makes it unlikely that you will need to carry oil cans, spark plugs or any other items associated with maintenance. When the warranty is up on the Fisker all the ICE maintenance can be done by an independent shop. A friend of mine has a Chevrolet Volt that just hit 25k miles. He has done 0 maintenance on that car thus far. When my Model S hits 25k miles it is likely that I would have spent $1200 in maintenance at that point.

Timo | DECEMBER 18, 2012
@Superliner, Volt is not pure serial hybrid (it can connect ICE to drivetrain directly), neither is it pure parallel hybrid (it can run ICE as generator without connection to drivetrain directly). And it has big enough battery that it can work as BEV without ICE at all in short distances.

It is hybrid hybrid :-P

Yes, I'm aware that it is not a "pure" series hybrid as the ICE CAN under certain conditions (above 70 mph.) add it's torque to the driveline. But it is as close as is available. The Karma is the only available 100% series hybrid. Just felt nothing was to be gained by arguing the point, figured if "they" = anyone really wanted to know they could look it up themselves. I did when the car was introduced.

I drove a Volt today actually. It's nicely done, has ample power etc. My only complaint is that it has a "slightly" quirky looking exterior design. Much better than the Butt Ugly Nissan Leaf

The New 2013 Ford Fusions appear similar to a Model S from a rear 3/4 view and the Aston Martin - ish grille opening is indeed appearing on all kinds of veh's Model S included, So as was written elsewhere in this thread ... The Model S is looking dated already. Model S without the class leading powertrain / range and HUGE touch screen controls is pretty ordinary styling wise, Not that it it unattractive just ordinary. That said that might be a good thing! All one need do is look at a LEAF for proof of that lol!!

As for the Karma the grille most reminds me if of Packards of the early to mid 50's only difference is the Karmas is split.

@SMOP, you complained that Model S doesn't behave well in corners and Karma is actually better. I have hard time believing that considering lighter weight and much lower CoG. Maybe Model S just feels rougher and you translate that as "bad behavior"?

@timo every major magazine that has reviewed the Fisker Karma has its skidpad numbers higher than the Model S...For example Road & Track has the Karma Skidpad at .91G and 0-60 of 5.9 Sec

The best skidpad numbers that I have seen for the Model S are all less than .89g?

The Model S feels sloppy compared to the Fisker Karma. The Karma feels a lot more sportier and composed. Many have postulate that this may be due to the air suspension on the Model S. I own several Ferrari's, Lambos and other high end sports cars. I am well aware of what a great handling car feels like. I do not think that the Model S is duping me with regards to its handling characteristics.

@SMOP That's sounds bad. Model S should be better so there is something that has been done "wrong" in it. Maybe we see numbers from someone without air suspension soon. Or maybe air suspension just smart enough for really good handling and that could be fixed with some firmware upgrade (I hope).

@Timo I am equally as surprised; for the past few years I have watched several videos where Tesla employees have spoken about the low COG of the Model S and how the Model S is one of the greatest handling cars in the world. The former Tesla employee Peter Rawlinson is the most vibrant video memory I have of a Tesla employee explaining the incredible handling nature of the Model S. I was very surprised to find that the Model S felt so sloppy. Maybe my expectations were unrealistic after I test drove the Karma? The Karma is a best of a vehicle and significantly heavier than the Model S (and wider). The steering feel from that vehicle is oh so sweet. So weird?

I'm going to have to side with the "not so great" guys on the MS handling.

I was a bit surprised on the test drive under first lateral load. The car felt like it was pushing through the contact patch and not trying to roll it over. The only other time I have felt this is in a purpose built race car where the crankshaft has been lowered and the gearbox is fed by drop gears which actually raise the rotation centerline up from the crankshaft for the gear stack. It was a very odd feeling to have in a car. I tried to upset the car while under lateral load by lifting to see how the car would react. I was unable to learn much given the limitations of having my minder in the right seat.

Overall, the MB air suspension SUCKS when it comes to handling. I am, of course, assuming Tesla is using the MB air suspension. I've done lowering modules for the MB and VAG vehicles and thus have a ton of experience with the air suspension. I was beyond happy when MB used coil overs on the C63 as they finally built a car that felt good (like an M5 :).

I was hoping that the MS would handle like my old RS6. It does not. That's ok for me as it is an A8 sized four door sedan and I typically do not throw these things around corners.

SMOP - We've got the correct tools when it comes time to throw stuff around corners....

S MOP and lolachampca

"The Model S feels sloppy compared to the Fisker Karma" and "Overall, the MB air suspension SUCKS when it comes to handling"
While I respect your opinion(s), I couldn't disagree more. Although I've only test driven the MS, I thought it handled exceptionally well. Additionally, I've owned several BMWs (one while living in Spain) so I also know a thing or two about handling dynamics and performance driving. Lastly, Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima, one of the most decorated and accomplished professional drivers ever proclaimed the car’s handling as “really incredible.”
To each his (or her) own, but I feel your assessment of the MS’s handling characteristics overly harsh and unfounded.

I'm not a "high-end" car guy. I'm stepping up to the MS from a Jetta TDI. As such I don't feel qualified to comment on the MS handling in comparison to similarly priced cars.

However, even if it is true that the Karma has an edge here I'm still curious as to how Fisker failed to badly in terms of efficiency... 54mpge? really?

SMOP. Forgive my lack of clarity. My remarks were directed towards nwdriver93 not the Karma owner. His neighbors (not the Karma owner) may enjoy having the oil, filters, etc. It will also help the other neighbors see some of the extra benefits of the “S.”

Personally, I want Fisker to be successful, there is room for both.

@SMOP: I see about 1 Karma a week in Silicon Valley (saw one today in fact), the sides and rear look fantastic but I still can't get over how the grill looks clownish.

If you haven't see it yet, you also have to see a photo of this purple Karma:

PS: I really wish this forum was threaded to make it easier to reply to specific posts

@sanjosedriver That's a great looking car if you are The Joker.

I guess I should have read the article before making that joke. sigh.

Not only is the Fisker Karma poorly built and engineered, It's built in Finland. Teslas are built in the USA by Americans. I have always owned Japanese or German cars. I have never owned an American car until the Tesla. I plan on buying the Model X and probably three of the 4th generation Teslas for my children.

There is something so satisfying about driving Motor Trends 2013 COTY, helping the economy by buying American, going stupid fast, saving the planet, saving money for every mile I drive, telling the arabs to sell their oil to somebody else, saving the planet, and, finally, watching the envious stares of everyone I pass.

Talk about killing a bunch of birds with one stone.


@nwdiver93 However, even if it is true that the Karma has an edge here I'm still curious as to how Fisker failed to badly in terms of efficiency... 54mpge? really?

Huge weight, bad aerodynamics, bad rolling resistance. Probably also weak engineering in drivetrain. Fisker is designer, not engineer, so he has quite a different approach to cars than Elon (both head of the companies they represent).


To be fair the rolling chassis of the Roadster was built in England. Also the parts content of domestic parts in the Model S is only 10% higher than the Fisker.

@timo The Karma weighs more than a Mercedes GL, its a heavy car. Henrik Fisker is no longer the head of Fisker Auto. Are you currently daily driving a Model S? The range is not up to par (at least on my car) in a standard more charge I get 208-212 miles. If you are an owner what is the mileage you are getting?

I get the feeling that some of the negative comments, especially the ones that seem incongruent, may not be from real Tesla owners. We all know that Tesla has been heavily shorted and with the recent runup in share price there is the worry of an impending short squeeze.


Many people on this board, on TMC etc can vouch that I am a real Tesla owner. Tin foil hat?

tranhv68, if I were shorting TSLA, of all places I wouldn't waste my time in the Tesla forums trying to break bad news to people who are wearing rose tinted glasses all day... Doesn't seem a good way to make any difference in the stock price. There are certainly some stock holders here, but the total of stock held by guys like you and me is negligible in the grand scheme of things. And those who hold massive TSLA don't spend their day sifting though these forums, I bet.

Thanks to the guys that tell it like they see it.... SMOP. Tesla needs good pointers of where to improve to make a better product. If it was up to us happy Tesla grinning folks the car would never change.

I still haven't found any reviews of the Karma that would make me want one. Even the Karma fan boys cut the car down in too many places for me to be interested in it. Maybe in a couple of years when they iron out the problems but by them I'll have my S.

@smoothoperator, for standard mode charging that range is quite normal. Lowish but normal. EPA 265 mile range for Model S is with range mode. 300 mile "ideal" is with constant 55mph in ideal conditions.

Model S range depends greatly about how you drive it, over 400miles is possible, but also less than 200 is possible (even in range mode).

If you get poor range just slow down. Speed is what kills the range in BEV. You would see it in ICE car too if they wouldn't have so crappy efficiency at slow speeds and city traffic.

smop - I still don't get it.

You extolled the virtues of the Fisker, but you bought the Tesla.

If the Fisker is the better car, why do you own a Tesla, but not a Fisker?

With your stable of Ferraris and Lamborghinis you could own both a Fisker and an S, but you passed on the Fisker.


The Fisker shipped before the S, and you had a chance to test drive the S before closing the deal. Why did you go through with it if the S compares unfavorably?

TM did ship more cars in two months than Fisker has sold in 2 years. That seems to say something a out what most people think.

Here's a bet for you: which company is more likely to disappear, Tesla or Fisker?

The market seems to have called that one already, and I'm not inclined to put money on Fisker.

We all have our personal preferences, and that's cool. But what you are saying seems out of synch with what you are doing. That's the part I don't understand.

Mark K

Thank you for your questions it would be my pleasure to explain my situation.

2010: Purchased first Roadster and was told that Tesla would give us a 10k discount on the Model S Sig if we put a deposit down on that car. We did a bit of research and found that we liked the Model S in its 2009 iteration (the one shown at Space X) The interior we beautiful (very Karma like with nice padding/materials and luxurious appointments), touch screen IC and a bunch of other higher end appointments that we definitely liked. At this point it was not even on our radar to purchase the Model S. We were looking at buying the Fisker Karma, but with the 10k discount it made sense to go for the Model S.

2011: Purchased two more Tesla Roadsters, enjoy these cars more than I thought.

2012: We got our first hand look at the Model S and it was way different than what we thought. By the time we got to look at the Model S "in the flesh" our deposit had already gone "non-refundable" i.e. you lose 10k if you ask for a refund. We thought the materials looked cheap and the touch screen implementation looked nothing like what was shown in 2009. We were able to drive the car without limit (friend of ours works at Tesla) and found that the handling was not as crisp as the Karma. In fact the Model S we drove and our current Model S feel quite unstable.

Today: So now we have the Model S (which can only get better). We are not upset with the decision but it just sort of turned out this way.

The Model S is a less expensive car than the Fisker and more practical (from a usability standpoint). The Karma is more akin to an exotic "halo" car where as the Model S is not of this stature (that was the Roadster). I hope Fisker survives, I think Tesla Motors is on the right path. Hopefully demand stays hot for the Model S. Let me know if you have any questions or comments and I can break down our situation further.

S Mop

OK, now I get it. Initially, I couldn't understand your overly (and in my opinion) unfounded harsh criticism of the Model S. Again, I've owned several BMWs (including one while living in Spain) so I also know a thing or two about handling dynamics and performance driving.

I've also driven the Model S and to me, it handled phenomenally. Besides you and lolachampca, I have yet to find anyone or any publication (which did an actual review) describing the Model S handling as "unstable" or "sloppy". Sure, they pointed to areas needing improvement but nothing close to your assessment. But that's beside the point. Again, to each his own... However, to me it is clear your disappointment over what you consider a lack of/sub-standard luxury features in the final product combined with a non-refundable 10K (which forced you into this purchase) clearly caused you some resentment towards Tesla which appears to have tainted your judgement of the Model S in other areas.

My advise - sell the Tesla (you'd probably make money) and purchase the car you really want - the Fisker. Although I strongly feel the Fisker is too slow, poorly engineered/constructed (plus it uses gas) and looks too much like a cartoon for my taste, it certainly looks fast and the cramped interior is appealing.


There are several people who have commented on the handling of the Model S and its unstable characteristics. Doug, AnOutsider and some others from the other boards have also commented on this. They think it is probably due to the air suspension design.

I am very familiar with TM and their cars, hopefully the next iteration offers more creature comforts and higher quality materials. I do not want to deal with the hassle of selling the car and possibly losing my rebates and all that stuff. If you want to make me an offer on the car I would be happy to listen. I keep hearing about me making money on the car but no one is opening up their purse strings to make an offer.

S mop

Never heard of Doug, AnOutsider but I stand by my statement that credible reviews don't share your view, including Monster Tajima. (FYI -Tajima has racked up nine wins at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, including six consecutive victories earned from 2006 through 2011.
He was also the first man to break the 10:00 barrier for the run in 2011.)

Clearly you want to part with yours. May I suggest Ebay or Autotrader. As for me, my delivery is scheduled for Feb 2013.


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