Delivery of the first Fisker Karma, the radical range-extended four-door performance car, is set for later this month. So far, the company has received 3,000 pre-orders. Henrik Fisker, a former designer for Aston Martin, developed the Mercedes CLS-sized Karma. It was based on the bespoke aluminum spaceframe chassis.
The powertrain includes a mid-mounted battery pack and twin rear-mounted electric motors. And when the electric power runs out, a 260bhp 2.0-litre turbo four acts as a generator. There are several high-profile buyers for this vehicle.
The first production car will be delivered to actor Leonardo di Caprio while other customers include Al Gore and Colin Powell. The Valmet plant in Finland currently has a production rate of five cars a week but starting November, this will increase to 300 cars a week.
In Fisker’s estimation, the car is sold out until early 2012. This car costs $100,000 but has a price tag of about £95,000 in the UK after taxes. Fisker said that half of its sales are by early-adopting car enthusiasts while the other half is by total non-car enthusiasts who want to buy this “totally new” car.
He said that these customers realize that the infrastructure for electric cars isn’t there yet and so the company is offering a “stylish, stress-free alternative with no range compromises." Later on, the Karma will be produced in saloon, convertible and shooting-brake models.
Fisker will display the shooting-brake version at the Frankfurt motor show in September. In 2013, Fisker will introduce a smaller, four-door range-extended car that will rival the BMW 3-series. This vehicle is presently known as Project Nina. It will be available in three bodystyles and it has a starting price of $50,000. But unlike the Karma, it will be sold in both left and right-hand drive.
The Fisker Karma's body design is like a smoothly moulded sculpture with compelling proportions that remain faithful to the company’s signature style. The broad, low stance and relatively high front fenders provide a distinctive styling touch. Compared to the Fisker Karma prototype, the upper grill has been modified and the lower intake is now larger to optimise airflow. An aerodynamic diffuser has now been installed under the rear fender, providing additional cooling for the electric drivetrain. Of course, the Karma’s biggest distinguishing feature is the roof completely covered by the glass solar panel, which is the largest on any car, an industry first and a standard on every Fisker Karma unit.
Henrik Fisker, Fisker Automotive, Inc. CEO, said that from conceptualisation to production, the Karma’s development aimed to maintain the Fisker design philosophy consistent with the prototype exteriorly and interiorly, and that the dramatic proportions of its finely sculptured design made from environment-friendly materials distinguish the Karma from all others. Fisker adds that another vital key was to make the Karma inspiring to drive, with the hope that it will pioneer a new green transportation segment and become the market’s most sought-after plug-in hybrid sports sedan.
Like every other desirable car, the Fisker Karma has an interior design that inspires and excites, especially the cockpit. The company’s interior designers concentrated on sustainable green concepts and were inspired by classic styles and the enduring beauty of nature. In light of the Karma's Sustainable and Accountable Design, technologically innovated reusable materials were utilised, such as the wood trim that actually comes from non-living trees, like ‘fallen trees” due to old age, ‘rescued trees’ from forest fires or ‘sunken trees’ from the bottoms of American rivers or lakes.
The controls, instruments and meters of the Fisker Karma are intuitively usable. Layered EcoGlass covers the centre console, a 10.2-inch touch screen where the HVAC, audio and various vehicle systems are controlled. Behind the steering wheel, LCD gauges show important readings including speed and battery charge.
Henrik Fisker said that in terms of the material philosophy, the Karma equally combines “sensuality and accountability." Great effort has been made to exclusively use environment-friendly classic materials and remain true to the company’s eco dedication. As Fisker said, they are aiming to “inspire change for the better."
Interested Fisker Karma buyers have three optional trim levels: EcoBase, EcoSport and EcoChic. The EcoChic series uses the latest sustainable materials and is totally animal-free while still offering the utmost luxury. 100% Bamboo Viscose, a soft-feeling hand textile substitutes for leather. EcoGlass is used to frame real fossilized leaves. The EcoSport series retains the use of leather, but it’s of the hand-wrapped premium leather variety from a 100% sustainable manufacturing methodology that requires the least number of hides possible and notably shows its natural markings.