Tag: “hybrid plug-in”

Fisker Karma: The World’s Most Interesting Car

February 27, 2012 lacarguy Fisker Tags: , , , , , , , 0 Comments

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.

Electric Car Charging Goes Wireless

December 15, 2011 lacarguy HybridCars.com Tags: , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

By Jim Motavalli HybridCars.com

Inductive EV charging—look, ma, no wires!—is gaining momentum, with Daimler testing concepts for the new battery version of the B-Class Mercedes and Nissan actively contemplating making it an option on the 2014 LEAF. Wireless charging leader Evatran will sell wireless kits for the LEAF and Chevy Volt next year, and it’s even hooking up with Sears Home Services to bring its Plugless Power to the masses.

The basic technology is familiar from wireless phone charging and the electric toothbrush. There are a few basic obstacles to creating larger versions for cars: high cost; the 10 percent average energy loss today when transferring power from a floor-mounted transmitter to a car-based receiver; and a start-from-scratch regulatory climate. But there’s no question that wireless charging, which creates a magnetic field to pass an electric charge from one coil to another, is on the ascendancy. It certainly addresses anxiety over having to learn a new way to fill your car up with energy—all you have to do is park, and these automated systems will do the rest for you.

Technology on the Move

It’s far too early to tell if wireless technology will eventually triumph over the wall-mounted home charging system, and no automakers have formally adopted it. “All we have done is shown this technology,” says Nissan’s Steve Oldham. “We haven’t confirmed anything. The stuff that is out there is speculation.” But Popular Mechanics claims that wireless will be an add-on for the luxury Infiniti version of the LEAF in 2014. The Rolls-Royce 102 EX Phantom, which I recently test drove in New York, is also set up to use a wireless charger from HaloIPT.

In the system that Nissan demonstrated, drivers simply align their vehicle over an inductive charging mat. A dashboard-based navigation system uses sensors to guide the rear wheels into place. The touchscreen hosts buttons to start and stop a charging session.

In Alignment

Daimler has teamed up with Conductix-Wampfler on plug-free charging for the Mercedes E-Cell. According to Conductix, one big hurdle is the need for exact alignment between the charger and the vehicle. The signal can travel only six inches or so, so the driver is likely to need an automatic parking system to ensure a good lock-in.

Major auto supplier Delphi and wireless leader WiTricity have their own system under development, using technology invented at MIT. Randy Sumner, a spokesman for Delphi Packard Electrical/Electronic Architecture, told me that automakers have shown considerable interest in wireless charging, which could accompany the second-generation EVs coming out in the 2014-2015 time frame.

Priced Like Navigation?

Wireless chargers have definitely gotten smaller and more efficient. Dave Schatz of WiTricity told me he expects consumer systems to eventually cost no more than car-based GPS navigation. Evatran’s Plugless Power floor-based unit is now the size of a small hubcap, with up to 97 percent efficiency between the charger and the car. It’s also more forgiving of poor alignment. Evatran is testing the system on a fleet of a dozen Chevy Volts. But it’s still far too expensive, at $5,000 for an all-in system in 2012.

The General Electric wall-mount WattStation is now available at Amazon.com for $1,099 (none used yet), so Evatran’s Sears play makes sense. According to co-founder Rebecca Hough, Evatran will make its wireless hardware kit (for the Volt and LEAF) available in 2012 for approximately $2,500, with installation (unpriced so far) extra. The basic installation is for people who are lucky enough to have dedicated 240-volt lines in their garages; the standard install includes that line.

Some regulatory and safety issues have yet to be worked out. Underwriters Laboratory (UL) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) are set to introduce standards for wireless in the second quarter of next year (fast for SAE), and waiting for that has hindered plans for commercial and public wireless charging. Obviously, you’d want this at Starbucks and the big-box stores, but companies aren’t likely to go ahead without the standards in place.

The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) issues standards for the strengths of magnetic fields, and Hough says that Evatran has no trouble meeting them. She also says that wireless will incorporate many of the safety provisions built into SAE’s J1772 standard, including safety interconnects and shutoffs.

By the way, claims for inductive charging are somewhat confusing, because there’s a difference between the efficiency measured charger-to-car and the overall system. Evatran boasts an only three percent communications loss, but the overall system is currently at 91 percent. Company engineers think that 93 or 94 percent system efficiency is doable relatively soon, but going beyond 95 percent is a long-term prospect. Would we be happy with a gas station that spilled five percent of the gas on the ground?

John Gartner, a senior analyst at Pike Research, says that widespread will take years to roll out. “It’s of interest to most top automakers, many of which have internal programs in development. The consumer market is still years away. There’s still no common SAE standard, and you don’t want vehicles tied to charging docks, and the cost ($500 per car) is too steep to include on vehicles that aren’t going to use it all of the time. The technologies are all pretty different, so unlike cabled charging, some companies would be left out of any standard that is eventually passed. Qualcomm surprisingly is going after the market in a big way with its recent acquisition of HaloIPT.”

Still, wireless is probably here to stay, but it will take time to develop. “Pike Research sees the market growing slowly from 2013 ($26 million globally) to $233 million globally by 2017,” Gartner said. “Fleets that can share charging docks are the mostly likely early adopters.”

The bottom line here is that inductive charging, which appeared to be abandoned from the last generation of EVs, is now looking more and more practical as a long-term solution. Even if wireless does eventually triumph, however, wired charging is still likely to dominate the early EV years simply because the units will be in place and working. But there’s no reason they can’t happily co-exist.

Fisker Karma Named 2011 Top Gear Magazine Luxury Car of the Year

December 5, 2011 lacarguy Electric Vehicle Extended Range, Fisker Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

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.”

Fisker Karma Achieves Outstanding Results in Fuel Efficiency & Emission Outputs

November 28, 2011 lacarguy Electric Vehicle Extended Range, Electric Vehicles, Fisker Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

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.”

TUV Results

  Urban Extra urban Combined
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)

Fisker Karma Named Automobile Magazine's 2012 'Design of the Year'

November 10, 2011 lacarguy Electric Vehicle Extended Range, Fisker, Green Auto Technology, High MPG Vehicles Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

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.

Fisker Karma Proves 51 Mile Electric Range In TÜV Tests

November 3, 2011 lacarguy Electric Vehicles, Fisker, Plugin Hybrid Vehicles Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

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.

To stay on top of all the news and information about Fisker, make sure that you “Like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Fisker Karma To Make Debut On Tonights Two And A Half Men

September 26, 2011 lacarguy Fisker, Fisker Santa Monica Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

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.

Make sure that you watch or DVR tonights show, then share your feedback with us on our Facebook page, or on Twitter.

Fisker Surf Unveiled At The Frankfurt Autoshow

September 21, 2011 lacarguy Electric Vehicle Extended Range, Fisker, Green Articles, Plugin Hybrid Vehicles Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

A stunning new version of the Fisker Karma was turning heads at Fisker Automotive’s booth at the Frankfurt Autoshow. The brand new Fisker Surf delivers on Fisker’s promise of Pure Driving Passion and Uncompromised Responsible Luxury.

The new Fisker Surf is the world’s first electric luxury/sports automobile for an active and eco-friendly lifestyle. The Fisker Surf builds on the success of the ground-breaking Karma Electric Vehicle with extended range (EVer™). Along with its own independent, spirited attitude, it brings additional, flexible load-carrying capacity. The Fisker Surf combines performance, luxury, style, utility, and economy with an enduring concern for the sustainable use of resources and respect for the environment. The Surf is Fisker’s version of a crossover between the sports car and the station wagon. The addition of the Surf exemplifies how Fisker is expanding its Karma platform rapidly with models that create a new market niche.

“The Surf is a first-of-its-kind eco-friendly lifestyle vehicle that offers space, performance, and luxury design for people who live an active, environmentally conscious lifestyle and like to drive beautiful cars,” Henrik Fisker, CEO/Executive Design Director, Fisker Automotive.

Fisker Automotive also announced its partnership with BMW who will now cover the supply of engines and other components for future Fisker models. BMW will supply a four-cylinder turbocharged engine for the next generation of Fisker cars, code named ‘Project Nina,’ which are scheduled to go into production at the re-commissioned GM plant in Wilmington, Delaware. Production will begin by the end of 2012 and cars will hit showrooms globally in 2013. The first Project Nina production will be a mid-sized premium sedan that will utilize Fisker’s EVer™ technology to deliver on Fisker’s corporate vision of Uncompromised Responsible Luxury.

According to Henrik Fisker, “The BMW engine was an obvious choice for us, as BMW is known for producing the best and most fuel efficient gasoline engines in the world. We are very pleased to have signed the agreement with BMW.”

In addition to growing its fleet of vehicle models, Fisker Automotive is proud to announce its RESERVE customizable options program developed in collaboration with Claus Ettensberger Corporation (CEC). This exclusive Fisker authorized accessory program will be available through Fisker retailers. The first car equipped with accessories from the program features a variety of aerodynamic components and two wheel options (forged and monoblack) for the Karma. There are a number of other new and exciting products in development.

You’ll just have to continue to follow us on Twitter and be part of our Facebook community to find out what’s released next.

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Leo DiCaprio Picks Up His Fisker Karma. Fisker Santa Monica Customers Get Their First Test Drives

August 23, 2011 lacarguy Fisker, Fisker Santa Monica Tags: , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

There was quite a buzz last week when box office star Leonardo DiCaprio was seen around town driving his new Fisker Karma. DiCaprio, a long time Prius owner and environmental activist, was pleased to be the first person to take delivery Karma and was impressed with they style and the quality of the car.

But what is it like to drive this revolutionary car? Fisker Santa Monica got together with professional driver Kyle Shields and put together a test drive video for you to enjoy. Shields describes the styling of the Karma as a “cheetah in motion”. The Karma looks like it is traveling at speed, even when it is parked. We do not doubt that some who purchase the Fisker Karma will view it as a piece of sculpture. There is no doubt that you can walk around the car for hours and admire all the different lines of the car and enjoy it’s sheer elegance.

That elegance is not not just for the exterior. The interior is designed with the highest levels of style, luxury and environmental sustainability as well. The exclusive EcoChic™ series is based on an advanced sustainable animal-free approach that replaces leather with a high-grade textile and EcoPremium Suede™ trim. Certified Rescued Wood™ trim is sourced from Walnut Burl and Red Elm trees reclaimed from forest fires in the hills of southern California.

The Fisker Karma is sexy, fun, exciting, and brings the blending of luxury, performance and environmental consciousness to the world.

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Fisker Automotive & Architectural Digest Partner to Promote Environmentally Conscious Lifestyle

August 22, 2011 lacarguy Fisker, Green Articles Tags: , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

The partnership between Fisker Automotive and Architectural Digest is a year-long, integrated print, digital, and experiential program aimed at reaching leaders in the fields of technology and design, business ethics, environmentalism, and others interested in expanding their knowledge of sustainability.

The first event, in a series of five global events, was the Aspen Ideas Festival where Henrik Fisher was the keynote speaker at a private event at The Little Nell. The festival was presented by the Aspen Institute and was a forum where thinkers and leaders from around the world gathered to discuss their ideas, work, and issues that have inspired them. The goal of the festival was dedicated to dialogue and exchange, and to bring these discussions and ideas to the public at large.

And of course, the Fisker Karma, Fisker Automotive’s first production car and the world’s first premium electric plug-in hybrid will be on display at each of these established events. As you may already know, the Fisker Karma is a design-driven, environmentally sustainable, luxury vehicle with 403 hp, and a CO2 output lower than most hybrids.

Featured alongside the Fisker Karma at these events will be a custom-created digital wall that will host original video content featuring four, 30-second pieces highlighting key innovations of the vehicle via one of the four elements: water, air, earth, and fire. Using an interactive iPad, visitors can navigate through each of the four films. The custom-created digital wall is crafted from sustainable materials, reflecting the environmentally conscious values of the Fisker Company.

“An innovative partner like Fisker Automotive continually challenges Architectural Digest to create integrated programming that is as state-of-the-art as its product,” says Giulio Capua, vice president and publisher of Architectural Digest. “We are thrilled to be standing alongside Fisker at the forefront of design and technology.”

“Architectural Digest is the ‘International Design Authority’ and there can be no more of a natural fit than the sleek Fisker Karma with its ground-breaking environmental credentials to create a partnership that is a perfect fit for our customers,” says Marti Eulberg, Fisker Automotive’s vice president global sales and marketing.