While big brand automakers like Toyota and General Motors are still more than a year away from launching their respective plug-in hybrid vehicles, small start-ups such as California's Fisker Automotive intends on having its own plug-in hybrid on sale this November. The company today took a step closer to production reality of its Karma plug-in hybrid luxury saloon by signing a $10.2 million deal with Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide Inc. to supply the car's advanced plug-in hybrid system.

The deal calls for Quantum to supply its advanced Q-Drive powertrain for the Karma as well as the eventual Karma S convertible based on the concept car of the same name unveiled earlier this year. Other partners involved in the Karma's gestation include General Motors, which will supply a 260hp 2.0L Ecotec four-cylinder engine to charge up the car's batteries, as well Finland's Valmet, which is contracted to manufacture the car.

The new Q-Drive powertrain will give the Karma an all-electric range of 50 miles (80km). After the all-electric 50 miles, the petrol-powered, direct-injected Ecotec engine turns a generator to charge a lithium-ion battery. With this balance of electric and petrol power, 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.

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 the U.S. this November, with pricing starting at $87,900.