In the global car business, the forces of homogenization (fuel economy and crash tests, aerodynamics, limited supplier base, materials costs) are almost irresistible. And this is particularly so in the premium luxury segment. That’s right, BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Lexus have great full-size sedans and four-door coupes, but they are for the most part, interchangeable.
Let us introduce you to the world’s most interesting car. Every square inch of the Fisker Karma underscores clarity and design intent and vested individuality and a scorn for convention. Which is to say that the Karma is unlike any other car. This is a car so far outside the mainstream that it was clearly born out of a grand vision.
That grand vision, and the confidence to make it a reality, belongs to Henrik Fisher, ex-Ford and -BMW designer (Aston Martin D89, BMW Z8), who with former BMW executive Bernard Koehler started Fisker Automotive in Anaheim, California in 2007. Their thesis was simple: Money is easily bored and there are sufficient numbers of carbon-conscious high-end consumers to support a luxury-EV company.
So what makes the Karma so interesting? Where do we begin. How about the gearshift, comprised of a symmetrically reflecting dihedral group of acrylic switches in a pentagonal projection in the center console. You don’t see that every day. The EcoSport package uses veneer from rare hardwoods, salvaged from the bottom of Lake Michigan where they sank while being floated down from the logging camps a century ago. The leather is Bridge of Weir Low Carbon Leather, sourced from ranchers who observe the Five Freedoms of animal welfare. The Lucite panels (100% recycled, of course) in the doors and console have magnolia leaves embedded in them. These many textures provide something the luxury car market sorely lacks: cars with a definitive narrative. We tell stories about our cars because they tell stories about us.
To alert pedestrians of its presence, the Karma emits a ghostly, electronic thrum, almost a “Tron-like” sound, as engineers call it, that reverberates from loudspeakers concealed in the front and rear bumpers. The rear speakers are located behind chrome alloy diamonds where one would expect to find the exhaust pipes. So where are the exhaust pipes? The turbocharged 2.0-liter, 260 horsepower four cylinder engine/generator under the hood actually exhausts through small ports behind the front wheels.
In all electric Stealth mode–with a full charge, a range between 32 miles (according to EPA) and 50 miles (according to Fisker)–the Karma accelerates to 60 in 7.9 seconds on its leisurely way to a 95-mph top speed. Pull the left-hand paddle behind the steering wheel and the car goes in to Sport mode, bringing the output of the battery (20 kWh/180kW max discharge) and the generator (175 kWh) online to energize the two 201-hp electric motors in the rear. In Sport, the car hits 60 in 6.3 seconds which is a mere half second slower than the Porsche Panamera S Hybrid.
Overall, the Karma is a fascinating and compelling automobile, an arty dreadnought of a car that gets an honest 52 mpg-e (or better, says Fisker) and, for most drivers on most days, uses zero gas. Will the Karma save the planet? Maybe, may be not, but the world is definitely a more interesting place for it.
+ KARMA CONTINUES TO WIN AWARDS
Henrik Fisker, CEO, and executive design director, says he is “happy, humbled and very proud” of the number of international awards the Karma has continued to receive in its debut sales year. In recent weeks, this has included Top Gear’s Luxury Car of the Year, Automobile’s Design of the Year Award, listing in TIME Magazine’s Top 50 Innovations of 2012, a Global Green Design Award, and noted Swiss magazine Schweizer Illustrierte named the Karma their Most Stylish Car of 2012. Commenting on the success, Henrik Fisker said, “We have always had a great deal of faith in the appeal of the cars we create, but to have that recognized by critics so early on in the Karma’s lifespan is really fantastic.”
+ WIND TURBINE CHARGES KARMA AT ILLINOIS ECO RESTAURANT
Savvy Karma owners eating out at The Great Escape restaurant in Shiller Park, Illinois, have been able to charge-up their luxury plug-in hybrids for free and with zero environmental impact, after the restaurant fitted EV charging stations to a giant wind turbine. Keen to do their bit for the environment and to reduce dependence of foreign oil, the restaurant owners erected the 112-foot wind turbine in 2009, providing well over 50-70 percent of their energy needs in a sustainable way – and leaving plenty of energy over to charge up a few Karmas during lunchtime.
+ FISKER DOES DEALERSHIPS DIFFERENTLY
Fisker dealerships are emerging worldwide, with 45 already up and running in the US alone. In keeping with Fisker Automotive’s philosophy of utilizing existing resources wherever possible, the company has tried to avoid building new facilities from the ground up. Instead, Fisker is recycling previously occupied car showrooms and transforming them into new environmentally friendly ones with showrooms furnished with environmentally responsible furniture. This means using sustainable materials in construction, such as reclaimed wood flooring and color and materials containing glass and reclaimed wood veneers. Technology tables with touch-screen functionality allow consumers to configure and order their
Karma while cutting out the use of traditional paper sales materials. Fisker retailers are also installing the first ever solar-powered dealership signs, designed specifically for Fisker Automotive, which contain recycled components, are low maintenance and operate on cloudy days with less than two amps of power. These signs reflect the overall mission of Fisker Automotive, which is Uncompromised Responsible Luxury.
Henrik Fisker and the Fisker Automotive Team are definitely taking home quite the list of awards this year–and their pile might just be complete with the latest accolade. The UK’s immensely popular Top Gear TV show host James May has just named the Fisker Karma his “Car of the Year” and Top Gear Magazine named the extended range vehicle “Luxury Car of the Year”–an award that has previously been graced upon high-end vehicles as the Mercedes-Benz CLS Coupe, the Jaguar XJ and the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe.
One of the biggest fans of the Fisker Karma is one of the brightest stars in Hollywood himself, Leonardo DiCaprio. So fitting is the Karma with DiCaprio’s lifestyle and beliefs, it would be tempting to say that he was the inspiration for the Karma. It would also be the truth. Henrik Fisher says that seeing Leo get out of a Prius at the Oscars in 2007 gave him the idea for starting Fisker Automotive. “He [DiCaprio] could have bought any car in the world,” he says. “And I remember seeing that on television and thinking to myself, you know, when you’ve got a guy who could buy any Ferrari or Rolls-Royce and he’s buying a Prius, you know something is changing dramatically.”
Since Leo ordered his Karma, there have been a number of updates and tests made on the vehicle. Top of this list the exhaust system. One of only two blemishes on the concept Karma’s record was the fact that the generator would butt in at the most inappropriate moments, like a loudmouth drunk at a cocktail party. One moment, you’re sitting in the cabin mesmerized but the quiet hum and the Karma’s sophistication, then, mid-bend, the shocking sound of flatulent elephants fill the cabin, shocking you out from the spell. But that’s all fixed now, thanks to a new resonator in the exhaust, known in-house by the very technical term, The Pizza Box, and some remapped software that controls when the 20W battery pack is charged. All that is audible now are a few soft clicks and whirrs as the drivetrain goes about its business, just as it should be.
The other key change is to the steering weight, which was perfect once the car got going but rather too heavy at parking speed. Some reprogramming of the steering pump has completely solved this, so now the Karma is as easy to park as it is to fling through a corner. Both these updates have been made to Leo’s silver car. DiCaprio is an environmentalist and a strong supporter of animal rights. One of his latest Tweets restated his support for the end of the ivory trade. This explains his choice of the Eco-Chic interior in his Fisker. It’s the top-of-the-line that features no leather, just textiles and reclaimed wood. All the while, managing to look, feel, and smell premium without any cow peel in it at all.
In response to the awards, Henrik Fisker said, “It is fantastic news that the Karma has won two awards from Top Gear. We realize that we are at the beginning of our journey and awards like this remind us we are on the right road–building enticing green cars that people actually want to own.” Fisker added that he was especially excited that this was a European award for an American-made car, “it’s a triumph that American engineers have designed and engineered this ground breaking car at our global headquarters in Anaheim, CA and that there is now a new American car option that is bold, beautiful, smart and environmentally responsible.”
According to independent testing by the Technischer Ueberwachungs Verein (TUV), Europe’s recognized automotive certification agency, the Fisker Karma Vehicle with extended range achieves 112 mpg (2.1 L/100km) combined fuel economy and emits just 51 g/km CO2. TUV tests also validated the Karma’s all-electric range at 51.6 miles (83 km.)
In separate testing, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has rated the Karma a 10 out of 10 for fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions, while the California Air Resource Board (CARB) recently offered its certification, making the Karma emissions compliant in all 50 states.
With 400 horsepower, the Karma is capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 6.1 seconds and is the most efficient, lowest emission automobile available despite its size, performance, and design. All this is achievable due to the Karma’s cutting-edge EVer™ (Electric Vehicle extended range) powertrain technology, which combines the zero-emissions and efficiency of electric drive with the range and freedom of petrol-powered cars.
Unlike pure electric vehicles, the Karma can travel long distances without range anxiety or long recharge times. And as a series plug-in hybrid, the Karma gives drivers the ability to run emission free on-demand. While the Karma can run on all-electric power in Stealth mode for 51.6 miles, it has a total range of up to 300 miles (483 km) before a stop for gas or recharge is required. When driven in charge-sustaining Sport mode, the Karma achieves 26 mpg (9.2 L/100 km) combined fuel economy in TUV tests, the best of any full size, US-market luxury car.
“We are naturally very pleased with the TUV results, which show we have delivered better than our anticipated fuel efficiency figures,” said CEO and co-founder Henrik Fisker. “We believe the Karma is a car well-suited to the lifestyles of many people, and these results only reinforce that position.”
|CO2||58 g/km||47 g/km||51 g/km|
|Fuel Consumption||98 mpg(2.4 L/100 km)||118 mpg(2.0 L/100 km)||112 mpg(2.1 L/100 km)|
|Electric Range||51.6 mi(83 km)|
By Zack McDonald from HybridCars.com
The Fisker Karma has faced some tough press lately, including a brief, misinformed outrage surrounding the fact that the car will be manufactured in Finland despite the Fisker’s receipt of a $529 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. As those who have followed the company over the years know, Fisker intended to build the Karma in Finland long before it received any federal loan guarantees, and still plans to manufacture its next vehicle at a factory in Delaware.
Recently though, the headlines have begun to tilt in the Karma’s favor. On Wednesday, it was announced that Automobile magazine had named the car “Design of the Year” for 2012, calling it “a beautiful and highly dramatic automobile, unlike anything else on the road today and yet very much like dozens of the most beloved sports cars of the past.”
The accolade underscores an important point about the Karma that tends to get lost in a flood of often politically-tinged reactions: the Karma is a $96,000 luxury sports sedan and as such, it deserves to be evaluated on different terms from the Chevy Volt or Toyota Prius Plug-in. Emissions-conscious purchasers of luxury performance vehicles haven’t traditionally had many offerings to choose from. The Karma gives this relatively untested market a new option, and according to Automobile magazine-and nearly everyone else who’s driven and reviewed the vehicle-it’s a pretty impressive one at that.
Over in Europe, the Karma got some more good news last week from independent fuel efficiency tests carried out by the German regulatory body Technischer Überwachungs Verein (TÜV). The results of those tests prove that the Fisker Karma is one of the most capable—at least among plug-in hybrid vehicles—electric-only-mode performers in the world. The TÜV’s thorough “real-world urban” tests show that the plug-in returned an impressive 51.6-mile range in electric-only mode. This figure beats the Karma’s official EPA rating by a substantial 19.6 miles.
Of the results, Henrik Fisker, chief executive officer of Fisker Automotive, stated, “We are delighted that the TÜV has confirmed that most owners will achieve a 50-mile range running purely on electric during their daily commute.”
The 2012 Fisker Karma is currently on sale in the US, though production volume is extremely limited and all Karmas to be sold in 2011 have already been spoken for. Come next year, Fisker aims to ramp up production and sell approximately 15,000 Karmas in the US and Europe.
The Fisker Karma has achieved 83 km/51.6 miles running in silence on electric-only mode during independent fuel efficiency tests carried out by Europe’s regulatory body, the Technischer Ueberwachungs Verein (TUV).
Founded in 1871, TÜV Rheinland is a global leader in independent testing, inspection, certification, and consulting services. The company inspects technical equipment, products and services; oversees projects; and helps to shape processes for U.S. companies seeking entry to worldwide markets.
The TUV have carried out the most thorough tests yet of the Karma’s real-world urban performance. This is an independent process that measures every element of the Fisker Karma luxury plug-in hybrid’s performance.
“We are delighted that the TUV has confirmed that most owners will achieve a 50 mile range running purely on electric during their daily commute,” said Fisker Automotive CEO and co-founder Henrik Fisker.
The Karma has already been awarded the highest possible score of 10 out of 10 for fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions on its label from the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Sunday was National Plug-in Day (October 16, 2011), with over 200 EV drivers taking part in a parade of electric vehicles in Santa Monica, California over the weekend and LAcarGUY was there with Mike Sullivan driving the Prius Plugin and Kelly Sullivan driving the Fisker Karma! Congresswoman Janice Hahn of California along with California state Senator Fran Pavley, Chris Paine and actor Ed Bedgley Jr. were just a few of the other well known people who drove their personal EV’s in the parade.
With 200+ vehicles participating this years event was the largest-ever plug-in vehicle parade and biggest grassroots EV event, the parade in Santa Monica was mirrored by similar displays in 20 cities across the US.
Organised by not-for-profit EV advocate group Plug-in America, the day saw new and legacy plug-in vehicles from the likes of GM, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Toyota, smart, Ford, Tesla and Coda take part in the flagship parade through downtown Santa Monica.
“Only a few years ago, major automakers were literally crushing electric cars. Today, virtually every auto company in the world is selling or developing a plug-in car, and consumers are snapping up each and every one, stimulating our economy while helping the environment,” said Plug In America co-founder Paul Scott.
You can see all of the pictures we took from the event on out Flickr page, just click this link to take you there.
This event provides one of the most extensive presentations of Alternative technology vehicles and transportation, infrastructure, renewable energies, energy efficiency and urban planning found worldwide.
There will also be world renowned experts speaking to consumers and professionals about what is possible in todays world and the differences we all can make.
LAcarGUY will be out in force, we will have Volkswagen Santa Monica bringing the Golf TDI, Touareg TDI and the all new 2012 Passat TDI, Lexus Santa Monica will be bringing the Lexus HS 250h and the CT 200h, Toyota Santa Monica is bringing two Prius Hybrid and 5 Prius plug-ins for the ride and drive as well as the 2012 Camry and 2012 Rav 4 and Rav EV on Display. Fisker Santa Monica will have a booth with the Karma on display.
Admission is free, we hope to see you there.
What kind of car does an internet billionaire, living in a house on the beach in Malibu drive? A Fisker Karma of course! On tonights Two And A Half Men, Ashton Kutcher‘s character Walden Schmidt will be driving the car during the show, and the Fisker Karma will be seen all year on the show as well!
With Two And A Half Men being one of the most watched comedies on television, the Fisker Karma will be exposed to an even larger audience, more people will get to see what all the hype is about with the Karma. The Karma is much more than just a car, it is art, it is environmental, it is the future.