When the Fisker Karma debuted in 2008, its stunning design and innovative plug-in hybrid drivetrain were heralded as the future of America’s automotive industry. Today, the company is on the brink of bankruptcy after selling fewer than 2,000 cars worldwide.
Last week, Fisker missed a $10-million loan payment to the U.S. government—it had been approved for a $529-million loan in 2009, and had received $192 million before being cut off—and the company is now being held up by critics as an example of the Obama administration’s failed green policies. At a hearing before Congress, conservatives accused the administration of making a rash and risky bet on Fisker and its untested technology.
Indeed, when Karmas landed on showroom floors in 2011, they were riddled with defects, and several needed their batteries recalled. And at $100,000, they were roughly the same price as a Porsche 911, which doesn’t need to be pulled over to be recharged.