There was quite a buzz around the Fisker Automotive stand as company CEO Henrik Fisker delivered a short address to the media and introduced the Karma. To much of the mainstream press, it was a first introduction to the vehicle, which we've kept you posted on since first learning of the upcoming model this past September. In October, the company released some rough details of the vehicle, but today Fisker revealed, along with a model name, some more information.
The Karma is the first (and still-under-development) product of Fisker Automotive, the new Palo Alto, California-based venture from Fisker, the Danish founder of Fisker Coachbuild. The curvaceous sedan follows an all-new, ground-up design penned entirely by Fisker, who without modesty termed it a “sexy green car” at the Detroit stand. The Karma extensively uses aluminum in its construction and is comparable in length to the Mercedes-Benz CLS and in width to the BMW 7-Series.
New plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle (PHEV) technology called Q Drive, has been developed by Quantum Technologies exclusively for Fisker Automotive. The system uses a small four-cylinder gasoline engine — specs or supplier not yet announced — that charges the lithium-ion battery pack when needed, and regenerative braking to recover some of the energy lost in stop-and-go driving. An electric motor system is the sole motive force for the vehicle, delivering power to the rear wheels.
Provided the car is charged each evening, drivers will be able to go up to 50 miles each day on battery power alone — enough to fit the daily commuting needs of more than 60 percent of Americans and Europeans, according to Fisker. Altogether, the Karma will be able to reach 60 miles per hour in less than six seconds and reach a top speed of more than 125 mph. Meanwhile it would be able to travel up to 620 miles per tank of gasoline and achieve about 100 gasoline-equivalent miles per gallon.
“We're focusing on changing the face of the automobile industry by creating a new segment of eco-friendly transportation,” said Fisker, in a release. “We like to think that with this car, we're doing our small part to help protect the environment. Allowing consumers the ability to drive emission free not only cuts down on pollution, but conceivably could reduce America's dependence on foreign oil as well.”
The Karma looks poised to provide the driving excitement to match rival luxury performance sedans as well. A low, wide stance, combined with the drivetrain configuration — with the battery pack at the center of the vehicle between the two axles, the engine in front, and the motor system in back — should help provide a near-perfect weight distribution.
Drivers will also get to choose from two different Driving Modes, or attitudes, for the Karma. In “Stealth Drive” mode, operation is optimized for relaxed and efficient driving and the vehicle operates as quietly as possible. In “Sport Drive” mode, the full power of the vehicle can be accessed, and a supplementary sound system, run by electronics, will help the Karma sound like a the performance car it is.
Inside, the Karma has four individual bucket seats, and the trunk can accommodate two golf bags plus luggage. A navigation system is included, and there's a DVD entertainment system incorporated into front seatbacks, for passengers in back.
Fisker now plans, optimistically, to sell 15,000 Karmas annually, starting at around $80,000, with first deliveries expected in the fourth quarter of 2009. The first 99 cars will be individually numbered and signed by Henrik Fisker.
In a direct aim of California rival Tesla Motors, Fisker claims that the company will be the first in the world to offer a lithium-ion battery system. The Fisker looks destined to go head-to-head with an all-electric sport sedan that's in the works from Silicon Valley automaker Tesla Motors, which has construction underway on a $35 million facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that will assemble an electric sport sedan.
Fisker also announced that the company has recently received a second round of venture capital funding, from Kleiner Perking Caufield & Byers, a firm that recently welcomed Former Vice President Al Gore as a partner. This is in addition to original venture-capital funding for Fisker Automotive from Palo Alto Investors.
Fisker Automotive has dubbed itself the 'green American premium car company,' and plans to introduce future models also using the Q Drive technology.