I had a run-in with two brands this weekend, and was of course reminded of everyone's favorite empty box, the Atari VCS* ...
GenX people on this board would remember the dorky canvas sneakers with a little blue rubber license plate on the heels. When we were kids, they were, along with Converse All-Stars, the cheap, old-fashioned, no-frills option you'd buy if you didn't have much money and didn't care about style. They were everywhere, but they were far from cool.
Yesterday, we saw some at the thrift store and thought they'd be a fun, cute throwback for our tween daughter. We were surprised to see them priced at ten bucks a pair, and thought maybe that was a mistake, that they should be just a dollar or two instead. Nope! Turns out they're trendy now, and a new pair of Keds can cost up to eighty dollars.
Apparently the Keds
mark has been purchased and passed around over the years, and has become a "lifestyle brand." Obviously, "Atari" aspires to be like this.
So later on, we saw a crazy car we'd never seen before. It looked like a modern Aston Martin but had an unusual marque, quiet like a Tesla but styled like a Maserati.
It's a Karma. These are exceedingly rare. The style looks like the Aston Martin because it shares the original designer, the founder of the eponymous Fisker Automotive, bought up by Chinese investors at fire sale prices after their bankruptcy
. From what I've read about it, the Karma seems inferior to the Tesla in every possible way, but costs a bit more. It sounds like a real piece of crap that doesn't need to exist.
Some quotes from Dont Buy a Karma Revero, Buy a Tesla Instead. Or Anything Else. ... (the rest of the review is interesting, too)
Early reviews had critics thrilled the car worked. That this is the base line for evaluating a vehicle in the modern age is terrible. Being happy with a car simply because it works? For $130,000$140,000 with all of the optionsI expect it to do a lot more than that.
Doesn't that sound like something that Rob "Hands Down Trousers" Wyatt would say in one of his fabulous "updates
? Or the faint praise from the backers who just want something with the "Atari" name on their shelves, regardless of quality, value, or timeliness of delivery?
Multiple times yesterday, to multiple Karma employees, I asked: Who will buy this car?
We have some good prospects from people who loved Fisker, (30 percent of Fisker owners have come back to the brand, they report) and It will be people who want to stand out, they said. (Ill give them the latter.)
The customers who buy this are OK being noticed, Taylor told me. We have a lot of interest from current Tesla owners. For a lot of them, its My car isnt interesting anymore, he said.
Not unlike Atari claiming they're not competing with Microsoft or Sony, but are doing their own thing. Or Tommy wanting something other than his "boring" Playstation, Xbox, or Switch. Something unusual or rare, built on loyalty to the brand more than anything else.
What does it do well? Nothing much ...
But I can see how this is a difficult question. Taylor said the Karma is not set up to go to the airport and pick up a bunch of luggage, but on the other hand, its not meant to be a rocket ship or even, amusingly, to replace your Maserati. What are we talking about again?
This is not meant to be a testosterone car, Taylor said. If you want a zero-to-60-mph car, go get that one.
So if its not a practical daily driver and its not a sporty scream machine, then what is it? Its like the GT touring cars, he said. This is a third or fourth car that you take up the highway on a drive. Youre not going anywhere, youre just driving.
No. Thats like having a restaurant you opened to serve people who arent hungry, and the worst thing about the joint is the food.
Or Michael "Empty Box" Arzt, who can't articulate a good reason to buy the Atari VCS* other than an easy way for Mom to find Netflix.
Why does it even exist? They're not selling very many. Is it for money laundering, somebody's ego trip, or what?
OK. At any rate, Karma has eight dealers in the U.S. and two in Canada processing a total of 100 orders for the car, so far. It has licensing in China to manufacture cars there in the distant future, after this first generation runs its course and if things go very well. But when asked when Gen 2 might appear, Taylor said he didnt know.
Again like Atari VCS*, the showrunners don't know, and don't care. This is the kind of racket that "Atari" currently resembles.
The author of that Bloomberg review compares the Karma to Florence Foster Jenkins
, the socialite who bought herself into a famously bad singing gig. David Bowie said it was one of his favorite records. "She had and was blissfully unaware of, the worst set of pipes in the world of music Be afraid, be very afraid
. This is the feeling I get whenever "Atari" posts an update about this thing; it's so hilariously bad, I love it.
*the shitty one, not the real Atari 2600.