Fisker rolls out production Karma luxury plug-in hybrid saloon


The Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid will cost $87,900 and start delivery in November

The Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid will cost $87,900 and start delivery in November

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California’s Fisker Automotive has unveiled the production version of its Karma plug-in hybrid at the Detroit Auto Show today, just 12 months after the car was shown in concept form at last year’s show. With only minor design enhancements made to the exterior of the original concept, the production Karma, seen this week in production trim for the first time, retains the extreme proportions and sculptured look of the show car.

"We are very excited to be bringing the Fisker Karma back to NAIAS," said Fisker Automotive CEO Henrik Fisker. "In the year since we debuted the Karma, the reception we've received has been tremendous. I'm proud to announce at this time that we are already sold out on the car until mid-2010." With a base price of $87,900, the environmentally friendly luxury saloon is scheduled to begin delivery in November this year.

Featuring a proprietary ‘Q-Drive’ powertrain, the Karma will have an all-electric range of 50 miles (80km). After the all-electric 50 miles, a petrol-powered 2.0L turbocharged, direct-injected GM Ecotec engine turns a generator to charge a lithium-ion battery.

With this balance of electric and petrol driving, Fisker estimates that most Karma drivers who charge the vehicle overnight and commute less than 50 miles per day will be able to achieve an average fuel economy of 100mpg (2.4L/100km) per year. There is also a roof-mounted solar panel for additional charge capacity of 0.5kWh per day. That's just a drop in the bucket of the 22.6kWh battery pack that the Karma is fitted with, however. The solar panel system can operate in any of three modes: auto, climate, and charging. When in climate, the power from the solar array is directed to the climate control system. Charging mode sends the sun's power directly to the batteries, and Auto mode, which is the default setting at power-on, allows the computer to select which is optimal based on current usage.

Drive comes from two electric motors with a combined output of 408hp (300kW) and a monstrous 959ft-lb (1,300Nm) of torque, which is enough to send the vehicle to a top speed of 125mph and push it from 0-60mph in just 5.8 seconds. Those are impressive figures considering the 4,560lb (2,070kg) curb weight of the car. The vehicle also features two modes: stealth and sport. In stealth mode, which is the Fisker name for electric-only mode, the car has a max speed of 95mph, while in sport mode the car's internal combustion engine joins in and takes the top speed up to the 125mph mark. A third mode, called HEV, for hybrid electric vehicle, operates in a similar manner to a typical 'strong' hybrid: cutting the engine during deceleration, shutting the engine down at a stop, and using auto-start and electric take-off capabilities.

The production model will feature a revised upper grill that is slightly larger towards the outer corners. The lower air intake has also been enlarged to allow for more airflow and underneath the rear bumper, an aerodynamic diffuser includes the integration of a cooling cover for the electric drivetrain.

To optimize cooling and aerodynamics, the exhaust pipe from the petrol engine is routed directly out behind the front wheels. A small functional side vent will release the hot air when the engine is turned on. The production Karma also features a complete flush B-pillar.

Underneath the Karma is an all aluminum spaceframe made in cooperation with Norsk Hydro. The exterior body is a combination of aluminum panels and composite panels.

The Karma will be assembled by Valmet in Finland. Yearly volume is anticipated to reach 15,000 cars per year, with half of these expected to be sold in Europe. The first cars will be delivered to customers in November, 2009, but Fisker is working to establish a chain of 40 dealerships by next October, 20 of which will be announced in January. European pricing will be released in March, 2009 at the Geneva Motor Show.
 
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