Friday, April 27, 2012

A day later

The Red Carmeleon (I won't call it "Infernal" despite the official name of the exterior colour!) has had its first overnight charge and got me to work for the first time today.  I noticed that the battery charge was not quite indicated as 100% when I got to the vehicle in the morning (after roughly 10.5 hours of charging overnight as I was using the vehicle until about 10pm).  The battery was about half-full when I plugged it in, so I'm curious about that last indicated 2% or so of charge.  Maybe that last capacity is obtained by the tail-end 'trickle' charging as the battery approaches being full.  

Electrons only... leave those nuclei in the rocks

I'm still fiddling with my preferred driving position and of course am suffering from the usual anxieties about the size and position of the vehicle on the road (and for parking).  The Karma has ultrasonic parking assist (proximity sensors) front and back, but doesn't have a visual display of the sensor signals that some cars do, including the Audi R8.  It's interesting that I rarely looked at this display in the Audi, having learnt to trust the calibration of that system and its audio feedback, but in a new situation you find yourself wondering "Just how close am I to the wall when I hear various tones and how is that changing as I creep forward?".  Of course a display only moderately helps with this, and is still subject to calibration and interpretation, but it's an extra cue.

The rear (reversing) camera on the Karma is clear and large, but is lacking some of the annotations that are presented on some other vehicles (again, including the R8).  In the latest Acura MDX that I also own the rear view has a fixed 'perspective ladder' superimposed as a rough scale guide.  In the R8, an overlaid scale graphic is also dynamically drawn to indicate the approximate vehicle track according to the position of the steering.  I have always found that to be quite useful, particularly as an aid to reversing down a narrow track, but also when street parking.  That might be a nice touch for a future software update if the Karma platform records the steering input as a digital metric.

The car is definitely turning heads, and I'm getting even more requests to take a look at it than the R8 did. In fact I had not driven more that two blocks after taking delivery when, stopped at some traffic lights I noticed the passenger in the car behind had taken out his mobile phone and was snapping pictures on the Karma from the rear.

This evening, I spent some more time in the car and managed to configure some more preferences, including:

  • Setting the home location in the GPS
  • Naming the key fobs
  • Setting up the bluetooth connection with my iPhone
  • Storing my preferred seat and mirror positions, registered to my key fob
  • Setting "Easy entry/exit" mode.  This retracts the steering wheel and reverses/lowers the seat when the car is turned off (i.e. 'ignition' off).  I'm fairly short and like a fairly upright, high and forward driving position so this may help me swing around for entry/exit.  I'm not sure how much it wears the seat motors but I'll try it for a bit anyway.  Also, it does seem to retract the seat to the fully rear/down position, which seems a bit excessive and I wonder what's like if you have a rear passenger behind!
  • Setting auto-mirror fold mode (I have yet to see this work, though the manual button works fine). 
  • Setting up the FM stations (auto tune and store)
I also tried to register the vehicle's Sirius radio ID with my Sirius account (used in the R8), but couldn't find a way to swap the current (R8) ESN on my account with the new Karma one via the Sirius online account management tools.  I guess they want you to call customer support for this so that will have to wait until 'office hours' as Sirius doesn't offer 24h support - at least not in Canada.

Getting in to the car for this configuration in Accessory Mode I noticed a couple of curiosities.  The first is documented in one of the "Fisker Flash" news/tip sheets that I was given in a little portfolio on delivery of the car.  This pertains to the fact that the software of the onboard computer system (at least the touch screen controls and displays) takes a while to boot up.  The lawyer/disclaimer screen comes up pretty fast when you power up (ignition to Acc or On) and invites you to touch a button to accept and continue.  However, the initialization of all the software modules takes a good 20s or so, and even if you get past the welcome screen, the system will be very sluggish until everything is resident in memory and initialized.  As a computer guy, I get this (though it would be nice to have feedback to indicate when the system is actually ready for use, rather than accepting my input but offering a derated experience).  I'm hoping the 'normal' computer-like behaviour here bodes well for future feature enhancements as not everything is 'baked-in' like other automotive control systems, but I guess we'll see.

...and now a word from our lawyers

The second observed oddity pertains to the display of gas range in Accessory mode (perhaps while the vehicle is plugged into charge, as it was?).  I noticed that the refuel warning icon appeared on the dash, and the range gauge only showed 50km for both battery and total, even though I still have a full tank.  Clearly this is far from a big deal and I guess it's simply the case that accessory mode doesn't energise the gas level sensor circuit.

Looks like the Karma can't determine the gas range when in Acc mode (Battery=Total)

I introduced the car to one of the company sales guys today who's also a bit of a car fanatic.  He absolutely loved it, took lots of pictures and said he might pay the dealership a visit over the weekend.  Clearly the Karma sells itself.

Centre console between rear seats, from above.  The style accents are wonderful.

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