Despite the occasional lawsuit from competitors and some fairly lofty design goals, Fisker's Karma plug-in hybrid appears to be headed smoothly toward production. In the latest round of Series C financing, Fisker Automotive has raised a total of $65 million, thanks to the contributions of a new investor. An affiliate of the Qatar Investment Authority, Qatar's government investment arm, led the way. The new money will be used to support development and production of the car by Q4 2009.
Fisker has a target of reaching 7,500 sales of its Karma plug-in hybrids by 2009, though production isn't expected to begin until the fourth quarter. Pre-orders will likely drive early demand, as the company is already taking reservations for the cars. The Karma was first intended to be sold for about $80,000, but speaking with MotorAuthority Fisker's manager of marketing and retail, Sylvia Navarro, said the price would likely have to rise somewhat, to the mid-$80,000 range. Exactly why isn't clear, but rising materials costs and a weak dollar have been affecting prices throughout the industry.
The new shot of funding and the new investor joins the previous investments that have allowed Fisker to reach the pre-production stage with a prototype car that is now undergoing testing. The series-hybrid system promises 50mi (80km) of travel in electric-only or 'stealth' mode, while power thereafter is provided by a petrol engine. Both the pre-production car and a new Karma hybrid will be unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in January, 2009. The company will not be making the Los Angeles Auto Show as it focuses its attention on developing its cars to get them ready for production next year.
The production Karma will also now include solar roof panels as standard equipment to aid in powering the auxiliary systems, such as air conditioning, stereo, and entertainment systems. Twenty-two inch alloy wheels will also be standard equipment, offering both a unique look and room for the in-wheel motors. Like most other hybrid vehicle manufacturers, Fisker is also developing a noise-making solution for the Karma to ensure it can be heard by pedestrians. Still in development, the system can't be disclosed, but the company says it will have a solution before the car reaches production.
Once production is in full swing in 2010, the company hopes to hit sales volumes of 15,000 annually.