Fisker Automotive’s new Fisker Karma models debuted in concept car form in January of 2008, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The production Fisker Karma gasoline/electric hybrid luxury car was first shown in 2010 at the Paris Motor Show.
The new Karma models use electric motors for propulsion until the battery charge drops below a certain threshold. When that happens, the gasoline engine is ignited to generate electricity to keep the car moving. The powertrain is said to be good for 50 miles of electric-only running. The gasoline engine is capable of generating another 250 miles of propulsion, thus giving the new Karma models a theoretical range of 300 miles.
The Fisker Karma was originally slated to be launched in 2009, but production delays pushed the first deliveries to July 2011, with retail customers finally getting their hands on the new Fisker cars in November of 2011. MSRP in early 2011 was $95,000 for the basic Karma and $109,850 for the top model. These prices were increased in December of that year to $102,000 and $116,000.
Unfortunately, in December of 2011, the first cars delivered had to be called to back to correct a problem which could lead to a battery fire. In March of 2012, Consumer Reports purchased a Karma with the intention of running it through its usual testing procedures. The car broke down before it could be tested. A battery problem was diagnosed and the car was repaired within a week, but the damage to its rep was done.
Actual fires have also dogged the Karma. One Karma burned a home in Texas, another ignited in a parking lot in Woodside, Calif., and yet another was involved in a conflagration at the port during the flooding that accompanied Hurricane Sandy. An additional 300 cars were lost in that flooding as well.
All of these problems ultimately drove the company into insolvency. Fisker also had to halt the development of the Karma’s sister car, the more affordable Fisker Atlantic. The management team began to cast about for additional investors.
After disagreements with the management team over business strategies, Henrik Fisker left the company in March of 2013. Some 75 percent of Fisker Automotive employees were subsequently let go that month as well. As of this writing, the organization is down to a core group of people struggling to save the company.