Home » The Time I Was Blamed For Destroying A Car Company

The Time I Was Blamed For Destroying A Car Company

Tmd Top Fisker Matt Killed Ts
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As a journalist, if you do your job you’ll end up having some uncomfortable conversations. My favorite line from an old editor is that, at its core, reporting is just “professionalized rudeness.” That doesn’t mean you should be a jerk, it really means the opposite. If you’re asking a tough question it’s on you, as the reporter, to be as polite as possible both for tactical and purely human reasons.

In covering young companies there’s always a tough reality you have to contend with as a reporter: Young companies screw up. They all do. Even if they’re just making pretzels. Cars are more complicated than pretzels, so young car companies are always screwing up.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Probably because of this, young car companies are always extra super sensitive. This happened with Tesla and Top Gear with the Tesla Roadster. Oftentimes, the reaction just makes the screw-up seem bigger and worse.

I mention all of this because the current version of Fisker has had a month and is struggling with both the reality of some software issues and with the way those issues are being magnified by the press and the non-press. So, I wanna go back to a time when a different company (also named Fisker) got upset with me.

Also, while we’re at it, there’s a timely piece out about how automakers are struggling with the era of “software-defined vehicles” and even the FCC is having to figure out how to make sure people can’t stalk owners of “connected vehicles.” Also, VW decided it isn’t going to do an IPO for its battery company anytime soon because IPOs are hard.

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The Failure Of Nuance

Fisker Karma Concept

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but one of the hardest things I had to learn as an editor was the power that I possessed. For years, especially at the old site, the assumption was that we were the dorky outsiders firing shots at the established old guard who held the “real” power.

That attitude was true for the first few years, but it slowly started to dawn on us that that relationship was changing. I won’t get into the details, but we wrote about an established “buff book” magazine and what they were doing and it was kinda mean. When someone from that publication complained I pointed out that we were just “punching up,” as was our mandate.

This person rightly pointed out that I couldn’t simultaneously go on Twitter and Facebook and brag that we were bigger than them and also claim to be punching up. This interaction left me feeling pretty awful. As did the growing awareness that, as a blog designed by a company to maximize online attention, we could sometimes carelessly hurt people even when telling the truth. Our defense was always “but it’s true.” But not all truth deserves equal attention. If a car company is cheating its emissions testing, everyone should know; if that same company’s HR person cheats at their weekly bridge game that’s not really anyone’s business outside of that bridge game.

Another way I learned this was by dealing with the older Fisker company. This was the company that made the plug-in hybrid Fisker Karma (see above), which is a vehicle that was ahead of its time in many ways.

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Cars are hard, and the Karmas had an issue where they kept catching on fire. When it happened I wrote about it and, because I was good at the Internet, our story was probably the most read version and ranked highly in Google searches.

From that point on, when a Fisker would catch on fire someone would email me and I’d call Fisker PR. They clearly began to dread these calls and would react with increasing grumpiness, eventually pointing out that I didn’t call GM every time a Silverado caught on fire.

Ultimately, Fisker did issue a recall over the fires, which turned out to be from a cooling fan from the gas motor (a 2.0-liter turbo Ecotec motor from GM). This would have probably all gone away over time, but then Hurricane Sandy hit and a large number of Fiskers that were in port in New Jersey caught on fire. Only one person knew and, I can’t divulge how this person knew, but when they got photos they sent them to me.

Why? Because I was the one getting all the attention for it, so I wrote it up and called Fisker PR. To say the person on the other end of the phone was mad would be an understatement. I tried to be polite and assumed the company had some sort of prepared response.

Naively, I hadn’t taken into account that the company had no idea it had lost a lot of its inventory and, not just that, lost it in a way that would only continue to support the narrative about its cars being fire hazards.

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The beleaguered press person expressed surprise, admitted he had no idea what happened, and accused me of effectively destroying the company before saying they’d get me a statement eventually. Soon after the company stopped making cars, and that PR person and, pretty much everyone else, was laid off.

I never reported anything that wasn’t the truth, and the cars, in fact, did have an issue that required a recall. The cars also caught on fire in the port (as did some other, non-Karmas). I don’t think that I caused the company to fall apart, as it was probably headed that way already. In fact, many years later I broke bread with that same PR person (who has a new job and is doing fine) and we quickly buried the hatchet and are on friendly terms.

Though what I wrote was truthful, I didn’t fully grasp at the time the echo that was created because of the prominence of my stories and how that ultimately impacted perception.

I say all of this because Marques Brownlee, aka MKBHD, an extremely popular tech review/influencer/journalist reviewed the Fisker Ocean, made by a new company named Fisker, under the headline “The worst car I’ve ever reviewed.”

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I’m a fan of Marques, and I think this review, if you watch all of it, does live up to the headline. I think for a software-focused, HMI-intensive reviewer who mostly focuses on electric cars this is probably the worst car he‘s reviewed.

I do think the title of the video undercuts the actual review, though, which is fairly close to what David experienced when driving Beau’s Fisker (Beau is also an investor in Fisker, which makes all of this interesting for us). According to David (and also others), it’s an attractive car with a lot of clever features and good range that has software issues that impact usability.

These issues seem more minor than, say, the issues with VinFast when it launched its vehicles. In fact, none of these appear as bad as when I drove the Lucid Air Grand Touring and it temporarily stranded me at a toll booth. Software-defined vehicles, especially new ones, have these issues. The Blazer EV, made by GM, is currently having these issues.

For all of the credit Tesla gets for OTA updates to its cars, what people tend to ignore is that part of the reason why Tesla has OTA updates is that it’s absolutely necessary to update these cars constantly. I’ve had EVs from other automakers that needed updating in the short time I had them. You can’t expect your car to be like your iPhone and not, you know, need updates all the time like your iPhone does.

Marques is one of the smartest people making reviews right now. Three people got early Cybertruck reviews (Jason Camissa, Top Gear, and Marques) and I think the review that Marques did was the most critical. And that’s a good thing.

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The challenge Marques faces in this particular instance is that he is bigger than Fisker. His criticism carries more value and more weight than any defense Fisker might make. The title of his video, then, has a huge impact because, even though many people have watched the video, many will also skim or draw conclusions and miss the nuance of what he’s saying.

But Marques is smart and he knows that if he titles a video “The worst car I’ve ever reviewed” many people will watch it and, ultimately, views are the most important measure of success on YouTube. I think the title is accurate, but the impact is profound.

And to prove this, look at what happened next:

@georgejsaliba

MKBHD reviews the fisker we have in our iventory and tears it apart! Calls it the worst car hes ever reviewed! In this video i get a call from fiskers senior engineer to come and fix the car. #fisker #tesla #mkbhd

♬ original sound – George Saliba

This is George J. Saliba, a car broker who specializes in EVs and whose whole deal, like a lot of people trying to make money off of social media, appears to be maximizing attention. The thumbnail for this TikTok video, which has been viewed 2.4 million times, is “MKHBD DESTROYS FISKER”:

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Screen Shot 2024 03 04 At 9.10.28 Am
Screenshot: GeorgeJSaliba/TikTok

Mr. Saliba claims he’s the one who provided the car to Marques for the review, because Fisker didn’t want to get a car to Marques until the company had one with the 2.0 version of the software installed. Is that fair? The point made in the review is that many owners are living with cars sans updates, and I think that’s mostly fair. Also, Mr. Saliba sells EVs and uses social media to gain attention for his business, so he’s clearly incentivized to share the car as-is. Marques has a huge platform.

The call in the video above itself is slightly mundane. It is set up like this is a PR person calling to find out info on Marques but, actually, it’s a field service engineer calling to try and get the car fixed. Once the engineer finds out the car doesn’t belong to the reviewer he says getting the contact info is a “moot” point and works to try and get Mr. Saliba’s car fixed.

The framing of this call, the way Mr. Saliba almost luridly pulls the mic to the phone and looks at the camera (he appears to be in New Jersey, which is a one-party consent state for phone recording), and the way he highlights the video afterwards gives a different impression of the actual context of the call. But that’s his job. He’s not a journalist, he seems to want attention and he’s definitely getting it.

But then things get really gross. I came across this video because it was shared on Twitter by one of many attention-hungry, blue-check “tech influencer” bros. Here’s what he wrote:

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“Marques ended Fisker, the whole company is in panic mode [skull emoji]”

That isn’t what’s happening in the recorded call, and this isn’t the voice of a person in panic, but rather of a person whose boss told him to make sure this car gets fixed ASAP. The situation is a little weird, and I’d be peeved if my update was delayed so this guy’s car could get fixed, but the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Why is this Rjey person seemingly misleading people? I don’t know, but I do know that this is a surefire way to get attention on Twitter.

This is the power that Marques has, whether he realizes it or not. The careful nuance of his headline can metastasize into a weird, unnuanced service call blowing up on TikTok and then spreading to be something even further from reality on Twitter/X (owned by, hilariously, Elon Musk — who runs a Fisker competitor).

I don’t know what the solution is here, and I’m not suggesting I would have done anything differently. It’s probably better to live in a world where the individual voice has more power than the corporate one, which is the opposite of what normally happens, but it’s hard to ignore that the medium itself naturally disincentives the responsibility one is supposed to assume with that power.

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[Ed Note: As someone who reviewed the car, I am amazed by how public perception is being changed by this single video title, which led to that recording, which led to that tweet, which is being spread all over to mislead people into thinking it’s a recording from a Fisker that is actively freaking the hell out (again, the recording was just a field tech trying to fix a car). The Ocean is actually good! But alas, nuance is dead, and I say this as someone who also writes (accurate) headlines for clicks. -DT].

The Struggle Of Software-Defined Vehicles

Renault 5 E Tech Electric (b1316)

Still with me? Ok, I’m gonna do the rest of these real quick. Here’s a really apt story from Automotive News today titled: “Why creating software-defined vehicles is ‘costly, painful and intense'”

ORLY?

There’s a lot here about why this is so hard and you should read the whole thing, but I think this part is key:

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“Customers have an expectation in terms of what a consumer product is because they hold a smartphone or a tablet in their hand all the time,” Qualcomm head of automotive Nakul Duggal said during a Jan. 25 roundtable discussion led by the Financial Times.

Today, the value of a smartphone’s hardware is secondary to the value it generates from delivering software-based services via apps. However, the way the smartphone and automotive industries capture value is very different. Automakers still primarily make money by charging customers for hardware features.

“The history of the automotive industry is that the value addition has been in the plumbing of the car,” Duggal said. “You do not change things that are foundational to the plumbing.”

And this is where, to some degree, my bias comes in. When I review a car I probably care more about handling, steering feel, et cetera than a more tech-focused journalist might [Ed Note: Hence why my review title was so different than Marques’. -DT]. As with car companies, I probably care more about the hardware than the software. That doesn’t make my take on a car better or worse, but it’s something to consider when reading a review.

FCC Looking At Regulating Connected Cars To Help Curb Stalking And Domestic Abuse

Renault 5 E Tech Electric (b1316)

Old movies and TV shows made a big deal of attaching these huge tracking devices to cars in order to be able to follow them. While this was still not great from a privacy perspective, there’s almost a quant fairness of having a big box with a blinking red light on a car. At least it gives you a chance.

New cars are so connected now that, frankly, the little box you attach to the car is no longer necessary. The whole car is the blinking red light.

This comes with its own issues.

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Per The AP:

Nearly all new vehicles have convenience features that use telecommunications to find cars in parking lots, start the engine remotely, and even connect with emergency responders. But those features can also let abusers track the whereabouts of their victims.

Last year Congress instructed the FCC to implement the “Safe Connections Act,” which gives the agency the authority to help abused partners. Early rules passed by the agency required cell service providers to separate phone lines linked to family plans if an abuser is on the account.

The FCC is now trying to figure out if it can apply those same rules to automakers, which makes a lot of sense.

VW Is Not Going To IPO Its PowerCo Battery Unit

17695 2024id.4 Large

For all of the huge positive swings in the stock market, non-Tesla EV stocks have taken a bath the last year or so (and Tesla itself is down 24% year-to-date).

To wit, Reuters is reporting that Volkswagen is now considering not doing an IPO for its PowerCo subsidiary in the near future:

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Volkswagen will not consider a stock market listing for its battery unit until its factories are up and running and its unified battery cell is in use, the division’s boss told Reuters, essentially ruling out a possible IPO before 2026.

Thomas Schmall’s comments provide the best indication so far for when Europe’s top carmaker may float its PowerCo battery business on the stock exchange, as a follow-up to bringing in an outside investor or entering strategic partnerships with other cell manufacturers.

Seems smart.

What I’m Listening To While Writing TMD

Charli XCX has a new single out, but I just went back to her latest album “Crash” because I needed something pumpy to get me through a quick 2,500-word morning.

The Big Question

Where do you get your reviews from? YouTube? Twitter? The written word? Car magazines?

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Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
29 days ago
Myk El
Myk El
1 month ago

I get my reviews everywhere. If it’s a car I’m interested in, I try to find as many as I can get my hands on. Often there’s a general consensus, but different eyes may notice different little things.

Fourmotioneer
Fourmotioneer
1 month ago

Matt – really enjoyed this and having you on the site. In a way, these pieces seem like the perhaps less profitable LC500 to the Corolla Cross “I broke my Jeep and due to hubris, lack of organization, and poor time management getting it repaired in time will be tough” pieces that I enjoy equally.

In general, it’s very interesting how much power a blogger can wield with very little experience. The jump that DT made from FCA to Jalopnik is substantial – he now interviews people that he would have previously had to go through his senior manager to speak to. That’s not lost on the engineers here.

I’m still sort of bummed by how The Autopian handled the 27North breakdown. The company was not the topic of any conversation – and had a small target audience – and suddenly it was under fire for its poor PR skills and questionable root cause analysis skills. It’s not punching up when you work for Beau. The reporting was fair to the letter of the law but the story really arose from the owner’s poor choice to comment about a development vehicle breaking. OEMs break development vehicles all of the time without commenting

Speaking of Beau, sort of surprised that you all entered the Fisker conversation to begin with. Feels like an unmanageable conflict of interest (much like the Lotus pieces and really all of the Ford and Porsche pieces). I’m not necessarily “correct” in saying this, and don’t support the Bark M view on this, but will say that DT reviews are sort of tainted by his public pigpen persona and to begin with, so the “it’s not so bad” take on the Ocean would be tough to take seriously to begin with. I don’t mean that to disparage DT, and think that his persona is what makes his Jeep misadventures so uniquely entertaining (it’s never about the Jeeps. People read those to exhale and remind themselves that as stressful as their life is, they could be DT…). So, add the financial interest to DTs perspective and the fact that no automaker would avoid the temptation to deliver an investor such as Beau a ringer – extra quality control and inspection – and you have done nothing unethical by reviewing the Ocean, but it’s tough to take the review seriously.

While I’m at it, I am far from Mr Columbus Day, but I notice that when given the opportunity to promote stereotypes about Italian automakers, which really stem from Italian-American stereotypes, which stem from Hollywood portrayal of Italian Americans as buffoons and goons, which stems from US response to southern Italian immigration to the US…the site chooses the super Mario portrayal. Alfas are fair game for scrutiny, but there’s a generalization that doesn’t exist when reviewing every German car. Germany, recall, produced the V10 Toureag, not to mention the 1.8T. Point being, let the facts speaks for themselves but I think the Autopian has the power to stop attributing corporate failures to cultural generalizations

Guillaume Maurice
Guillaume Maurice
1 month ago

I see your ORLY and I raise it by which Terminal or whichTrain Station ?

[ just to clarify Orly is a town in southern Paris suburb that hosts the ORLY Airport (ORY) and two suburban trains (and whole bunch of roads & motorways) : https://www.google.com/maps/@48.7330694,2.3399809,13.63z?entry=ttu ]

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
1 month ago

I got that reference

Silent But Deadly
Silent But Deadly
1 month ago

This is why there’s an unwritten and therefore little followed rule from the early days of the Internet which is “If you can’t say anything nice then you should shut the fuck up.”.

This was the exact statement given to myself and my colleagues by the company librarian in the early 90s regarding the use of ‘chatrooms’. Generally, I’ve found this rule useful and a delectable challenge over the last thirty years.

Noodles Gargamel
Noodles Gargamel
1 month ago

TL:DR

Clickbait headlines = bad.

Highland Green Miata
Highland Green Miata
1 month ago

The software is not the car. However, shipping a car with software that is still what we in the software biz call “minimum viable product” (MVP) is a recipe for exactly what we’re seeing in these reviews– buggy software in a 2+ ton vehicle that can kill the occupant or passerby in the event of a failure is simply a bad idea (see: GM Cruise & Tesla “Full Self Driving”).

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 month ago

I’m not in the market, so I don’t search out reviews
That said, I want to say I rarely see so many thoughtful & cogent comments on a single page anywhere. You people are smart & thorough and I’m glad I get to hang out here

CuppaJoe
CuppaJoe
1 month ago

FCC Looking At Regulating Connected Cars – Did consumers ever actually say they want all that connected shit in modern cars? Same as all the screens and loss of physical buttons? Were people asking for any of that?

For privacy reasons, there really should be a way to switch it all off, or opt out.

Dangerous_Daveo
Dangerous_Daveo
1 month ago
Reply to  CuppaJoe

Well yes and no right. Some people probably asked for remote start, for SOS call stuff, or to help find their car, or even track their trips for tax return reasons, with that the car companies had to find a way to make that happen.

Also, car companies need to keep adding stuff to cars to sell them, and lets be fair, probably about 10 years ago, they really ran out of genuine new ideas, 15 years ago useful new ideas… If nothing was new, we’d only be replacing cars when they were completely stuffed. A shiny new thing isn’t that special when the only difference from your old one is it is shiny and new again, most people would want some cool new toys to play with, especially if the thing costs 20% more than the old one.

Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
1 month ago
Reply to  CuppaJoe

To answer that, you need to re-evaluate who is the ‘consumer’ and what is the ‘product’ in 2024.

Car companies have discovered that data is one way they can shed some old-world heavy industry baggage and scale (and profit) like tech companies. Because disrupting mobility, etc.

The gigabytes of data that you generate driving a modern car can be sliced, diced, packaged, and monetized better than a hog in a Chicago stockyard. And in that sense, you ARE the product, and the manufacturer is A consumer.

So, why would they want to turn that off? Because you might have a more visceral, private, pure driving experience? And maybe buy one more of their cars in a few years? The economics just don’t align and probably 90% of the motoring public (the same ones who are willing to share all their social media behavior) doesn’t care.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
1 month ago
Reply to  CuppaJoe

It all depends on how the question is worded. If they ask “do you want your car to recognize and protect you”, most consumers would say yes. I’d say no, but perhaps that is only because of the benefit of hindsight.

AlterId
AlterId
1 month ago

I have a slightly different take that, because it is mine, is undoubtedly correct. Had Matt not destroyed the first iteration of Fisker, it would have been a viable competitor of Tesla. Both companies would have been forced to innovate further. Elon Muscatel would have had to put more money and more mental energy into Tesla, which would have kept him from buying Twitter and cut back on airtime for the viewpoints that have been on the wrong side of the conflict in Gaza no matter who you support and even creeped out the cave those Thai kids were trapped in. He also may have paused his breeding cycle and kept his offspring count to date under seven or so. The pressure of competition would have sped up the pace of progress across the entire automotive industry, and we now would have autonomous flying cars that actually sequester excess carbon dioxide. Also – while COVID would have happened, it would have been easily cured by the consumption of one inexpensively-manufactured chewable tablet available in a wide array of tasty flavors and nobody would have died from it at all.

So thanks for that, Matt.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
1 month ago
Reply to  AlterId

> I have a slightly different take that, because it is mine, is undoubtedly correct

Hey Adrian, how’s it going?

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
1 month ago

The air is great up here on my high horse.

MAX FRESH OFF
MAX FRESH OFF
1 month ago

I hate the Wall Street Journal, but after they hired Dan Neil from the LA Times I started to read it for his reviews.

Cerberus
Cerberus
1 month ago

Written reviews. I used to read AutoWeek, Automobile, Car, Classic & Sports Car and another similar-titled magazine; Performance Car, Sport Compact Car, Grassroots Motorsports, Racecar Engineering pretty regularly; and any number of oddballs depending on features that month. That was up to about 20 years ago.

There are a small number of people I’ll watch a video from and they’re almost all vintage focused and technical. If they do mix in new cars, I usually skip those reviews. Most content creators push some immitation personality that feels as if they’re screaming like a carnival barker even when they’re speaking normally, they drag things out through way too much talking about themselves, repetition, or lame jokes/skits, and their scope of knowledge or interest is often lacking. Pretty much if there’s a thumbnail of a clown making some overly dramatic face like they’re trying out for a high school musical part they’re overacting too much to get or they have a clickbait headline, I avoid them, ruling out about 99.9% of content creators.

Peter d
Peter d
1 month ago
Reply to  Cerberus

I miss Autoweek 🙁

Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
1 month ago
Reply to  Cerberus

“Pretty much if there’s a thumbnail of a clown making some overly dramatic face like they’re trying out for a high school musical part they’re overacting too much to get or they have a clickbait headline, I avoid them, ruling out about 99.9% of content creators.”

Couldn’t have said it better. I’m also apparently an old man and just prefer print content anyway. I don’t want to sit through a 20 minute video when I could have read an article in 5 minutes.

I also don’t know these “content creators” from anyone. The barrier to entry is basically zero, short of getting your hands on a car. If someone was hired to review cars at Car & Driver or Motor Trend, you knew they had credibility of some kind.

Younork
Younork
1 month ago
Reply to  Vic Vinegar

There seems to be this new trend of “Reviewers” who just show the car and how nice it is. They also never seem to drive the cars in the videos. If you were a car company and could loan your car for a week to a proper media outlet to get critiqued, or loan it for half a day to some influencer who wouldn’t dare say anything negative, who would you choose? The automotive journalism industry is on life support before our eyes.

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
1 month ago
Reply to  Vic Vinegar

It used to take the respect of your educated peers to get a job reviewing, in the form of a journalism or engineering degree and some strong background in the other. And then there was a series of job interviews where you had to prove your respectability again, directly to the gatekeepers of the jobs.

These days, anyone can post anything, and we all compete for attention. Because facts don’t matter anymore, opinion rules, and the rules for citation and reference have been almost completely discarded. The biggest problems of today’s societies stem from the fact that average people simply aren’t good at determining fact from fiction, yet they all think they’re great at it.

The gatekeepers are gone. Chaos rules. And most Anarchists don’t have any clue whatsoever about how much they’ve won lately.

Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
1 month ago

I wonder if there is any effort made to educate students on discriminating sources anymore.

I know there was “in my day”. I remember finding some nut job website I used for reference in a paper I wrote in like 8th grade. The teacher didn’t penalize me for using it, I cited where I got the information, but made a point to say a few things about considering your source.

Up through college it was repeatedly noted – consider your sources when using the internet. Don’t just “find a website” and run with it. I mean it isn’t just young people doing that today, so I guess the internet has just eroded people’s ability (or desire in some cases) to scratch anything but the surface.

Younork
Younork
1 month ago
Reply to  Cerberus

The part about being yelled at by a carnival barker is an all too valid point. I don’t know if you watch any Doug Demuro, but recently he seems to be trending in the loud, over-the-top, direction, which is the exact opposite reason I, and, I assume, many others started watching. Jason Camisa’s stuff on Hagerty, on the other hand, is certainly worth the click.

Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
1 month ago
Reply to  Younork

IMO, he has been unbearable since he switched to video. Used to enjoy his written work.

Younork
Younork
1 month ago
Reply to  Vic Vinegar

Disagree, but I only found him once he was doing video.

Cerberus
Cerberus
1 month ago
Reply to  Younork

I’m not a Doug fan, though I wouldn’t put him in that category of the carnival barker (unless that’s what he’s become lately). I’m not sure what it is about him, but he irritates me almost instantly. There are some reasons I could mention for it, but they’re ultimately a justification for a gut reaction I have to him. Not to say I think he’s secretly skinning people in a basement well where he’s stuffed an old Range Rover (“It puts the lotion in the quirky dashboard pocket. It does this whenever it’s told.”), just that some people hit the wrong way and there might not be a good reason for it. I’m sure there’s plenty of people that feel the same about me.

Camisa’s not bad, but not a regular watch for me. I’m a boring guy in my older age, so I like dry old nerd stuff like Tyrrell’s Classic Garage.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 month ago

Regarding the Failure of Nuance and Fisker Karmas catching fire… two thoughts pop in my head. First… much of the time, the truth isn’t nice and is hard to take. They had a fire issue that needed resolving.

Second, I don’t think you or the rest of the staff unfairly picked on Fisker. After all, you also reported on Tesla Model S and Chevy Volt fires.

“Where do you get your reviews from?”

From a number of places.

“YouTube?”

Yes

“Twitter?”

Hell no!

“The written word?”

Yes… such as the reviews here and The Other Place.

“Car magazines?”

Online ones.. such as Consumer Reports.

I also used to regularly read reviews in the Toronto Star Wheels section… but that’s mostly dead now.

Also it’s important to note that I’ll still watch Motorweek reviews as well… and those can either be on TV (PBS) or through their youtube channel.

Last edited 1 month ago by Manwich Sandwich
Scone Muncher
Scone Muncher
16 days ago

The Toronto Star is a shadow of its heyday, never mind the dead Wheels section.

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
1 month ago

One of the things I appreciate(s) about The Autopian is how the team works to demystify the sausage-making on this site, beyond just TFTS. Hardigree’s reflection on the unintended consequences of having a platform is insightful and should be included in j-school curricula.

As for reviews: it was C/D for a long time, starting with the end of the David E. era … and then it was Top Gear until Clarkson punched a producer (as a broadcast producer, I’ve a zero-tolerance policy toward that cr*p) … and now it’s a mix of Consumer Reports (which does the best job of assessing what a car is like to actually live with) and this site.

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 month ago

Ultimately, Fisker has a Fisker problem. The genius designer is writing checks that his engineering team cannot cash. He fell in love with his own ideas, many of which are innovative and would look great in a top spec Mercedes but are overkill in a mid-size SUV. Did the Ocean need a rotating tablet, a tiny tray table, a weird solar roof, or rear seat popout A/C controls? Of course not but he insisted on them which distracted focus from the fundamentals of delivering a rock-solid car.

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 month ago

MKBHD wrote a hit piece. First, he criticized many of the quirky (innovative?) features that make the Ocean interesting and different like the tray tables, the split visors, and the driving modes. That is a matter of taste. He compliments the vehicle on its driving, ride, range, and ergonomics which, at least to me, are the most important things a vehicle is supposed to do. As a tech reviewer and someone who purports to be pulling for Fisker, Marques had no empathy for a startup trying to figure out complex issues while managing global software teams and a contract manufacturer. The customer may not care either but at least you could mention their situation so that customers can understand the tradeoff when selecting the vehicle.

He rightly criticizes the vehicle for being rushed to market with buggy and incomplete software. That is an entirely valid criticism but is not at all unique to Fisker. Almost every major manufacturer has suffered from harsh reviews and ratings because new cars compete on shiny bells and whistles rather than reliability, performance, or ease of ownership.

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