Detroit Auto Show: Fisker Karma Sedan production version

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 29, 2009

A production version of the plug-in Karma hybrid was revealed by the California-based Fisker Automotive today at the Detroit Auto Show after existing as a concept for just twelve months previously. The production Karma has only minor external design improvements compared to the original concept. The CEO of Fisker, Henrik Fisker, is pleased to announce that the eco-friendly Karma is sold out until the middle of 2010.

Pre-orders are set to be delivered beginning November this year with a basic price of $87,900. The Karma comes with a 'Q-Drive' powertrain that can reach 50 miles on an all-electric power from its lithium-ion battery after which a 2.0-liter turbocharged direct-injection GM Ecotec engine kicks in to charge the battery.

With the combination of electric and gasoline driving, it is estimated that users who travel less than 50 miles per day will be able to attain fuel economy of 100mpg (2.4L/100km) annually. An additional charge capacity of 0.5kWh per day is provided by a solar panel mounted on the roof of the car that comes with three modes of auto, climate and charging.

In Climate mode the energy generated from the sun is directly channeled to the climate control system, while Charging mode brings the energy directly to the batteries, and Auto mode permits the computer to decide which is optimal based on current power utilization levels.

The vehicle is propelled by two electric motors generating a combined power yield of 408hp (300kW) and an enormous amount of torque at 959ft-lb (1,200Nm) which is sufficient to help the car reach a maximum speed of 125mph and an acceleration rate from 0-60mph of only 5.8 seconds.

These ratings are remarkable considering the curb weight of the vehicle at 4,560lb (2,070kg). The Karma comes with two driving modes: stealth and sport. In stealth mode, which is actually another designation for an all-electric mode, the Karma has a maximum speed of 95mph, while in sport mode the gasoline powerplant combines with the electric motors to produce a top speed reaching 125mph.

A further driving mode called HEV, short for hybrid electric vehicle, cuts the engine during deceleration, shuts the engine at stop, and uses auto-start and electric take-off characteristics. On the exterior, the Karma production model will highlight the following: a modified upper grill that is a bit bigger towards its outer ends, a bigger air vent which was enlarged to permit more airflow, a dynamic diffuser which incorporates a cooling cover for the electric motor and a complete flush B-pillar.

Improved cooling and aero dynamics are achieved by rerouting the exhaust pipe from the gasoline engine straight toward the back of the front wheels and a small side vent releases the hot air when the engine is activated.

The Karma also comes with a spaceframe in aluminum and its exterior body is a combination of aluminum and composite panels. The expected yearly production output will be 15,000 units all assemble in Finland by Valmet and half of which will be sold in Europe with first deliveries coming in November. Pricing for the European Karma will be made available by March at the Geneva Motor Show while in the meantime Fisker is seeking a series of 40 dealerships by October half of which will be announced in January.

Press Release

Fisker Karma

Fisker Automotive, Inc., the new American manufacturer of premium green automobiles, unveiled its first production car - the 2010 Fisker Karma - at the 2009 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. With a starting price of $87,900 ($80,400 after US government tax credits), 1,000 orders for the 100 mile-per-gallon luxury plug-in hybrid have been received since the prototype debuted at the 2008 NAIAS. Fisker Karma deliveries are scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of 2009 through the Fisker Automotive Retail network.

The four-door, four-seat Fisker Karma fuses the traditional and timeless styling of veteran auto designer and Fisker Automotive CEO Henrik Fisker, with Quantum Technologies' clean Q-DRIVE® plug-in hybrid powertrain to become the world's first luxury plug-in hybrid car.

Q-DRIVE®: POWERFUL TECHNOLOGY

Exclusive to Fisker Automotive, Q-DRIVE® provides the best combination of power, efficiency and low emissions. The system is comprised of two 201hp electric motors powered by an advanced lithium-ion technology battery pack. A generator attached to a 260hp turbocharged 2.0-liter Ecotec® direct injection (D1) gasoline engine provides extended range capabilities.

"More than 60 percent of America's 200 million drivers travel less than 50 miles per day. With Q-DRIVE®, the Fisker Karma can do that without using a drop of gas. This proprietary powertrain will provide a base for all future model derivatives from Fisker Automotive." said Alan Niedzwiecki, CEO Quantum Technologies.

Q-DRIVE® features two operating modes: Stealth Mode and Sport Mode. In electric-only Stealth Mode, drivers can travel emission free for up to 50 miles on a full charge from any 110-, 220- or 240-volt electric outlet. A total range of up to 300 miles is estimated in Sport Mode, which utilizes the efficient Ecotec® gasoline engine to turn a generator that powers two electric motors on the rear differential. A fully charged Fisker Karma can achieve an annual average of more than 100 miles per gallon.

With a top speed of 125 mph and a 0-60 mph time of 5.8 seconds, the Fisker Karma is the world's first true premium plug-in hybrid sports sedan. The Karma's low center of gravity and performance oriented, A-arm suspension system offer a world class driving experience. Tall, wide tires deliver immense lateral grip while electrohydaulic disc brakes provide effortless stopping power.

LUXURY AND STYLE

Fisker Karma's exterior design features the continual flow of sculpture and dramatic proportion that is signature Fisker style. A low, wide stance and raised front fenders offer the driver a unique view of the car's design. Modest changes from the original Fisker Karma prototype include an enhanced upper grill and an enlarged lower intake for improved airflow. A new aerodynamic diffuser under the rear bumper helps cool the electric drivetrain. Instantly recognizable, the Fisker Karma also benefits from having the world's largest continuously formed glass solar panel roof on a car - an industry first and a standard feature on all Fisker Karma sedans.

"From initial concept to final production, it is important for Fisker to maintain a singular design language and to keep the integrity of the original design, inside and out. Extreme proportions, beautiful sculpture and earth-friendly materials are key elements that set the Fisker Karma apart," said Fisker Automotive, Inc. CEO Henrik Fisker. "An inspiring drive is also an important and crucial element. Our hope is that the Fisker Karma will create a new segment of eco-friendly transportation and will become the most desirable plug-in hybrid sports sedan available."

A desirable car of any kind requires an inviting cockpit. Fisker's interior design team focused on sustainable design held accountable to the environment. Inspiration from nature's timeless beauty and the quality of classic design composition provided immense inspiration. Fisker Karma's Sustainable and Accountable Design is reflected in the use of reusable materials enhanced with modern technology. For example, wood trim is sourced from non-living trees: 'Fallen Trees' that have succumbed to age; 'Rescued Trees' burned in forest fires; and 'Sunken Trees' lying in American lake bottoms.

Fisker Karma's instrumentation and controls focus on ease of use. Embedded in the layered EcoGlass™ center console is a 10.2-inch touch sensitive screen controlling HVAC, audio and other vehicle systems. LCD gauges behind the steering wheel provide display critical information like battery charge and vehicle speed.

"The Fisker Karma's material philosophy balances sensuality and accountability," said Fisker. "We have gone to great lengths to use only environmentally conscious, classic automotive materials that support a commitment to our eco initiatives. At Fisker Automotive we are trying to inspire change for the better."

Fisker Karma buyers will choose from three trim levels: EcoBase™, EcoSport™ and EcoChic™. The most advanced sustainable material series, EcoChic™, is based on an animal-free approach that still offers a luxurious environment. Leather is replaced by 100% Bamboo Viscose, a soft hand textile, while EcoGlass™ trim frames authentic fossilized leaves. Karma's EcoSport™ series incorporates hand-wrapped premium leather using a 100% sustainable manufacturing strategy, which minimizes the number of hides required and highlights natural markings.

KARMA PRODUCTION AND DELIVERY

To meet production goals, Fisker turned to specialty builder Valmet Automotive in Finland. Delivery of the more than 1,000 pre-ordered Karmas will begin this year. To commemorate initial production, the first 99 examples will be trimmed to match both interior and exterior specifications of the Fisker Karma prototype originally showcased at the 2008 NAIAS. Each will feature a personalized plaque with a designated car number and signature from Henrik Fisker

Also at the heart of defining the future is Fisker's retail network. A selective process to support initial deliveries is underway and interest from established dealers is high. Customers can expect a high level of service from retail partners that share their environmental and energy values.

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