With Fisker Automotive Inc.’s move to intensify the deliveries of $102,000 Karma sedans in the U.S., it hopes that the scrutiny over a federal loan to assemble rechargeable vehicles will already end. A California-based producer of plug-in hybrid sports cars, Fisker has started to ship Karmas. So far, 225 units have been delivered to dealers and 1,200 units are in the pipeline.
This year, Congress criticized the $529 million low-interest loan that Fisker received in 2009 after the collapse of Solyndra LLC, a solar panel maker that had received a U.S. Energy Department loan guarantee.
CEO Henrik Fisker said in an interview that the company has “moved on from that." He said that the company is “here to make cars, not politics.” He emphasized that it has used in the U.S. all the DOE money that had been drawn down.
In addition, it has led to the creation of many jobs in the U.S. Just like Tesla Motors Inc. (a California start-up and loan recipient), Fisker aims to create a luxury car market that use very little gasoline, or none at all, depending instead on lithium-ion battery packs for propulsion.
When Karma sales started, it was already behind schedule due to U.S. certification delays. This makes it unlikely that Fisker can achieve a target set earlier to deliver 3,000 units this year. While the Karma was being assembled under contract in Finland, Fisker got its loan to develop and build the Nina, a lower-priced model, at a Delaware plant.
Loans were granted by the Energy Department to Fisker, Tesla, Ford Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. for the development and production of rechargeable cars at U.S. plants. Among its many critics is Republican U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney who said that the loans are wasteful and are motivated by politics.
The Fisker Karma's exterior features the carmaker's signature design. This design showcases a continuously flowing sculpture and a dramatic proportion. It can also be noted that the new car carries modest changes from Fisker’s original Karma prototype, including an enhanced upper grille as well as an enlarged lower intake that promotes better airflow. There’s also a new aerodynamic diffuser found under the rear bumper that helps cool the car’s electric drivetrain.
You will also immediately recognize the Karma’s glass solar panel roof, which is the largest in the world and is a first in the industry. This continuous glass solar panel roof is a standard feature in all Karma sedans.
Fisker Automotive, Inc. Chief Executive Officer Henrik Fisker says that it is important for the automotive company to maintain a singular design language as well as to keep the original design’s integrity inside and out throughout the entire process, from the initial conceptualization to the final production. According to him, extreme proportions, earth-friendly materials, and beautiful aesthetic and form are the key elements that set the Karma apart from other vehicles, adding that an inspiring drive is a crucial element, too.
It goes without saying that an inviting cockpit is another requirement for any desirable car. And Fisker’s interior design team put emphasis on a sustainable design that values accountability to the environment and that derives inspiration from the timelessness of nature’s beauty and from the superior quality of classic design. This sustainable and accountable design is also reflected in Fisker’s use of reusable materials that is further enhanced by modern technology. What does this mean? The Karma’s wood trim, for instance, is sourced from fallen old trees, rescued trees that have been burned in forest fires, and sunken trees lying in lake bottoms. In other words, it does not cut down and use live trees.
What’s more, Fisker Karma focuses its instrumentation and controls on ease of use. This is evident in its 10.2-inch touchscreen, which is embedded in the car’s layered EcoGlass center console. This screen controls the audio system, the HVAC, and other vehicle systems. What’s more, LCD gauges found behind the steering wheel display critical information such as battery status and vehicle speed.