2008 Detroit Auto Show: 2010 Fisker Karma
Fisker turns to building a luxury plug-in hybrid sports sedan
What it is
2010 Fisker Karma Preview – 2008 Detroit Auto Show: Just this morning we attended a press conference held by a well-known Italian luxury car company, one that sells fewer than 10,000 cars annually and employs executives who tout the brand’s exclusivity. Maybe they haven’t heard about Fisker Automotive, and in particular, the 2010 Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid. Despite a projected annual production run of approximately 15,000 units, the Karma comes much closer to the true definition of exclusive thanks the plug-in’s first-to-market status, relatively affordable $80,000 base price, lithium ion battery technology, full-electric range of 50 miles, and a gas/electric fuel economy rating of 100 mpg. That kind of exclusivity will be available from Fisker in late 2009.
Why it’s Important
This debut marks the introduction of Fisker Automotive, Inc., a company that plans to offer a fleet of environmentally-friendly premium cars, starting with the Karma and following with coupe and wagon variants, not to mention a possible a small-car version in the years to come. All examples will feature exclusive Quantum Drive (Q-Drive) plug-in hybrid technology, which positions the battery pack between the axles to enhance driving dynamics and safety. A union of two companies, Fisker Coachbuild, LLC and Quantum Technologies, Fisker Automotive, Inc. arrives with a message designed to attract high-end enthusiasts – that it wants people to “drive beautiful fast cars that make environmental sense.”
Under the Hood
Behind the rear-drive Karma’s taut skin is a lightweight chassis that places the battery pack in the vehicle’s center to enhance driving dynamics and safety. Fisker says its plug-in hybrid sports sedan will hit 60 mph in 5.8 seconds and travel up to 50 miles on electric power alone; with a supplemental four-cylinder gasoline engine that powers a large generator, its range will extend to 620 miles while returning 100 mpg. When plugged into a 110-volt household outlet, the Karma fully recharges in eight hours, using a 220-volt outlet will get the job done in three hours, and a solar roof panel aids with trickle charging while the Karma is parked.
What it Looks Like
Like the Mercedes-Benz CLS and Jaguar XF, the four-passenger 2010 Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid exists as a low-slung, four-door coupe. The front end is long and sleek, the wide rear features a short overhang, and the flanks are decorated with substantial fender flares and arched wheel wells. The smooth hood is accented laterally by the curves of the raised fenders, with flowing lines gracefully curving along the sides. HID headlights with LED markers sit high atop the fascia, which includes an Aston Martin-like chrome grille dissected by a body-color centerpiece.
What Fisker Says
According to Quantum Technologies’ CEO, Alan Niedzwiecki, “Our goal here is to deliver the advancement of that Quantum Technologies has made in the area of plug-in hybrid technology. By combining our efforts with the renowned design talent of Henrik Fisker, we can produce cars that make a difference to the environment – without sacrificing the luxury that accompanies the finest vehicles.”
What We Think
Major automakers have talked about it for years, but Fisker Automotive is the first manufacturer to officially announce the production of a plug-in hybrid vehicle. That’s a monumental feat, though one that can only be enjoyed by the wealthy until the costs of production and lithium-ion battery technology decrease. But at $80,000 to start, buyers deserve something as exclusive and simply gorgeous as the Fisker Karma. Still, announcing production and actually producing are two different things, so we’ll keep one foot off the bandwagon until models start showing up in buyers’ garages.
Photo Credit: Ron Perry