Fisker Automotive faces problems ahead of Karma hybrid launch

Article by Anita Panait, on January 23, 2012

Fisker Automotive's goal to deliver its Karma plug-in hybrid sedans by the end of the second quarter of 2012 is on track. There were delays as the company faced challenges along the way. The company started taking orders three years ago, and customers have yet to receive their plug-in hybrids after making a $5,000 down payment.

Owner Henrik Fisker, a former chief designer for Ashton Martin, has been taking and fending tons of criticism for his company as well as for its start-up $103,000 Karma plug-in hybrid sedan. The company was the recipient of the Department of Energy’s loan for development of green cars, but the grant was scrutinized and Fisker was held up by cash flow problems, regulatory issues and a recall.

The company also suffered from problem with suppliers as well with the Congress and the media. Fisker even described the launching of his first car as "running over fire while people are whipping you."

Despite all that, Fisker is optimistic of the company’s future as it commences delivering 2,500 orders by the end of second quarter 2012 and then begins the prototype production of the Project Nina mid-sized sedan. "You are not a car company until you are making revenue-generating cars, and we are making $2 million a day," Fisker said. He forecasted a “tremendous growth” for the company.

For customers who want luxury cars but prefer one that reflects a responsible choice, then the ideal option would be the Karma from Fisker Automotive. Even if it is the first car from the brand, it delivers on excellent economy plus allows for emission-free driving. In creating the Karma, the brand made sure to make full use of the Sustainable and Accountable Design principle as this represents a great step forward when it comes to the auto industry.

This is because when it comes to the entire process involved in auto manufacturing, from the original development, to building the actual vehicle, the marketing, and even the disposal, it uses a large amount of resources and energy. Being a company that is making a start in the auto industry, this gives Fisker the chance to not only improve the current practice but also show the world what to expect from automakers.

Since Fisker wants to be known as an automaker committed to accountability and sustainability, it will be looking for ways to increase efficiency while lowering environmental impact, and with it the company’s carbon footprint, on the whole range. The electricity that powers the Karma is from the rechargeable lithium-ion battery. This allows the Karma to go as far as 80 km (50miles).

Any further than that and it is the task of the turbocharged direct-injection 2.0-liter gasoline engine to power the 175 kW generation which can extend the range by as extra 403 km (250 miles). Total range of the Karma is therefore 300 miles. Once officially released, the Karma will be available on a worldwide network of independent, established and authorized sellers. This will also be where future models from Fisker will be sold as well as the servicing.

For the U.S., the company has already identified 45 locations with the same number expected to be set-up for the European market. In the U.S. market, the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price is projected to be $95,900, and this is before the $7,500 federal tax incentive. For the European market, SRP is estimated at €85,500.

This means that the Karma offers more value when compared to other luxury sedans like the Audi A8 TDI, BMW 750i AcitveHybrid, Porsche Panamera S, and Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid. The Karma is even expected to deliver better value against the Maserati Quattroporte, priced at $120,000, and even the Aston Martin Rapide, valued at $200,000.

Fisker revealed that while the company is still developing its retail network in Europe, once put up it will be managed by importers in the likes of Nellemann located in Copenhagen, Denmark, Emil Frey Group of Zurich, Switzerland, Fisker Italia at Merano, Italy.

Completing the list will be BD Otomotive which is based in Istanbul, Turkey. The company also shared that a non-exclusive distribution agreement has been entered into with Shanghai-based China Grand Automotive in December 2010.

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