The first Fisker Karma electric saloons have rolled off the production line
By Gavin Conway on July 27, 2011 4:15 PM
The first Fisker Karma electric saloons have rolled off the production line with Ray Lane, a senior member of the venture capital firm that helped get Fisker Automotive off the ground, happy to pose for cameras as one of the first proud owners. But Reuters news agency has reported that film star Leonardo Di Caprio was in fact the very first man to pick up a Karma, only he didn’t stick around to speak to reporters.
The extended-range Karma is a luxury four-door EV with sportscar performance – 0-60mph comes up in just 5.9secs and the car can hit 143mph in short bursts.
There have been a number of delays in getting the Karma to production, but it seems as though the company has finally made it to market. Fisker Automotive says they already have pre-orders for 3000 cars. The Karma is built at the Valmet facility in Finland, alongside the Porsche Boxster and Cayman – that’s pretty good company to keep.
Like the Chevrolet Volt, the Karma’s wheels are always driven by electric motors, in this case two 150kW units that generate a huge 403hp between them. When the battery is low, a 260hp turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine comes online to power a generator, which maintains a minimum charge level for the batteries. The 20kWh battery is lithium ion with an iron phosphate composition, which is more stable than conventional lithium ion batteries.
Fisker claims a pure-electric range of 50 miles for the Karma, after which the petrol engine cuts in to power the generator that keeps the batteries alive. That should deliver another 250 miles, giving a total range of 300 miles – if you were to use all of that at once, fuel consumption would be a bit less than 38mpg. However, if you use the car the way Fisker anticipates – a combination of pure electric commuting with the occasional longer petrol-assisted drive, the company claims you can get up to 100mpg overall.
All this wrapped up in one of the most gorgeous automotive forms we’ve seen in years. That’s hardly surprising as one of the company founders, Henrik Fisker, was design chief at Aston Martin (hardly known for minging motors).
The very luxuriously equipped Karma costs around $100,000 (about £61,000 at time of press). In the UK, that would put the Karma in Mercedes Benz S-class territory. We’ve a pretty good idea where our money would be going.