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Fisker Automotive Unveils the Karma Luxury Plug-in Series Hybrid

The Fisker Karma.

Fisker Automotive, Inc., the joint venture between Fisker Coachbuild and Quantum Techologies (earlier post) unveiled its first production car, the Fisker Karma plug-in series hybrid, at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.

The Karma features a drive system—“Q Drive”—developed by Quantum Technologies exclusively for Fisker Automotive. The Karma’s Q Drive configuration consists of a small gasoline engine driving a generator as a range-extender for the lithium-ion battery pack. The rear-wheel drive Karma has a battery-only range of up to 50 miles, according to the company.

The Karma accelerates from 0-60 mph in less than six seconds, and has a top speed of 125 mph. The company is not yet releasing additional details on the powertrain.

The car offers two user-selectable driving modes. The first mode is Stealth Drive, which is the quiet economy mode for optimal relaxed and efficient driving. Sport Drive will access the full power of the vehicle.

The Fisker Karma will offer partly self-contained climate control, as consumers will have the option to purchase a full length solar roof that will help charge the car and provide cooling for the interior cabin while the car is parked. Additionally, Fisker Automotive will offer consumers an option to purchase a set of solar panels for their roofs or garages where they can generate electricity during the day to charge the car overnight.

Fisker Automotive says that the Q Drive technology will provide a base for all future derivatives from Fisker Automotive.

The four-door plug-in hybrid premium sports sedan will have a starting price of $80,000. Initial deliveries of the Karma will commence in the 4th quarter of 2009 with annual production projected to reach 15,000 cars.

Concurrent with the unveiling of the Karma, Fisker Automotive announced that venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers made a “multi-million dollar” investment in the company, building on the original venture capital funding from Palo Alto Investors.



The referenced web site is light on technical specifics. Has any reader of GCC given Fisker a down payment?


There is a presentation video at http://www.fiskerautomotive.com/ where Fisker reveals a little about the so called “small gasoline engine driving a generator”. He says it is turned on in the Sports Drive mode and he said it sounds like starting a jet engine. He also reveals that he was given more freedom from a design point of view because the drive train is smaller in the Carma than in a similar power conventional sports car. I speculate that it must be a multi-fuel micro turbine. What else sounds like a jet engine and is smaller for similar power? Fisker is a bit nervous during his presentation but he clearly loosens up at the point where he begins to talk about the car’s design. Anyway I think this car is cool beyond imagination. Their website has more pictures but really nothing else is revealed about the range-extender or the Q-drive.


I find it very interesting that Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is behind both this company and EEStor. If the EEStor works as advertised you imagine the synergy.

Beautiful vehicle.


80.000 is too much for me,

this car for 40.000km would cost me roughly 15.000 a year if not more ...

and at the moment i gain ~35.000 a year, thats not enough ...

maybe guys with a net income over 45.000 can buy this car


i am so depressed


"The Karma’s Q Drive configuration consists of a small gasoline engine driving a generator as a range-extender for the lithium-ion battery pack..."

It sounds like a gasoline engine, they are very vague on specifics. Perhaps the selling of Tesla's initial production brought investors around to looking at this one.

It sounds like they are putting the batteries down the middle, like the Volt for better weight distribution. The "jet" sound may just be the electric motor. If you have seen any other EV videos with sound, like the one from AFS, you notice the sound of the electric drive is somewhat "jet like".


SJC I think you are right and I was wrong. I watched the presentation once again and at one point Fisker actually say the range extender is a small 4 cylinder gas engine.


Someone should alert Clooney and Leno...


If they want to sell 15,000 units, they will need more than a few celebrities :)

The Saturn Flextreme and others seem to have settled on a small 4 cylinder engine and enough batteries to do the job. Defining the job of the batteries is important.

If you are set on providing round trip commutes on electric, the batteries will cost. If you can settle for a smaller pack and do the engine trick on 50% duty cycle, you might get a product out sooner at lower cost.


This car is sexy as hell and Fisker is also selling solar panels to go on it or with it on your garage. Yeah, the price is high, but it always is with cutting edge technology. It takes leaders like Fisker to create business models so that the mass producers can follow precedent. I don't think anyone is selling solar panels for the car or garage yet. I can't wait to see one of these on the road, and maybe someday own one myself.


Yeah 80,000 is quite high. Also, GM announced that the Volt will be much closer to 40K than 30K. So I guess the Genset's won't be for the middle class for a long time.

Most depressing.


The more I see and read about this, the more I like it. Here is some more info and photos from the show floor.


Sorry for the long link, I have not learned to do the HTML thing yet. Down the page, they show an interior shot that you can click and zoom. They did a heck of a good job for a one off proto.


They (thecarconnection.com) say that the first deliveries should be in 2009 Q4. Sounds very optimistic judging by the examples of Tesla and Phoenix.


Judging from some of the firings at Tesla, it looks like things did not happen soon enough to suit powerful investors. Start up company investors can expect wonderful results in a short time and that might not be realistic. They used to say that there is a need for "patient capital". which may be a contradiction in terms.


80 000$ for this ugly car, the design is all about excessiveness. Unbalanced shape, disproportionated hood,pretentious and truly decadent.


There are many more pictures of the car and its interior here http://www.fiskerautomotive.com/vehicles/features/#
Click gallery. I agree they did a really good job on this demo model. It seems to be entirely done. However, I guess it can take a year at least to test run the car to be sure it is durable enough in all its components and to have it crass tested and approved by the proper authorities. Furthermore, they need to plan and set up production carefully to be sure they will make money on each vehicle sold. Fisker has been through this process many times before with conventional ICE based cars so when they say they will start delivery in Q4 2009 I believe it. However, with such a fundamentally new drive train technology it must be very challenging to get the job done.


They can probably start some delivery as quoted. I think the lower cost model would be of more interest to more people...obviously. I doubt the annual production of 15,000. They may be able to build that many, but can they sell than many at $80k+ ?


"crass tested" that's funny, Henrik....
And treehugger was just writing about how ugly it was...

Robert Marston

Nice! Now I have something to save my money for!


Does anyone know how much range a full work day's charge from the solar cells would provide? Estimates I've read on-line suggest that a solar charge could add a few to several km, though on cloudy days I doubt the solar charge would be enough to get the car out of the parking lot. Given how few parking lots have infrastructure for charging outlets, car solar roofs are one of the few ways that solar power could directly offset petroleum usage in a way that other electrical sources can't.

Noeal Sean

Driver Education Online course is state and DMV-approved teaches you strategies for safe driving, defensive driving techniques and state specific rules and regulations that are necessary to qualify for your DMV Learners Permit.

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