Fisker Karma, A Luxurious Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle
By J D Johnston
The Fisker Karma is the most luxurious and high end PHEV available for sale in the United States. Electric cars haven't always been the most comfortable vehicles to drive, but Fisker Automotive is changing that with the Fisker Karma. People who crave luxurious cars can finally have the best of both worlds; the green energy of an electric auto and the magnificent driving experience they want.
Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are rolling off an assembly line in Finland.
Former Aston Martin designer Henrik Fisker proudly unveiled his original Karma PHEV at the 2008 North American International Auto Show. It was an exciting concept, and it set the bar for other manufacturers. Going into 2012, the Karma is ready for full production, and it promises to be a very exciting year.
Valmet Automotive, current manufacturer of the Porsche Cayman and the Porsche Boxster sports cars, will be proudly assembling the Karma Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle. Buyers can rest assured that their cars have been assembled by teams of highly skilled and professional artisans who have years of experience behind them.
Funding rescheduling forced Fisker Automotive to delay the release date of the Karma by two years. Originally slated to hit showroom floors in late 2009, the company now has initial deliveries scheduled for March 2011. President Obama has a clear goal of seeing one million electric vehicles on the roads by the end of his administration. Together with Gov. Jack Markell, Fisker Automotive was lent $550 million to help them get the cars into showrooms. The Karma sports sedan retails at $96,000 and has already rolled off Finland assembly line. The company's goal is to produce 115,000 cars over the next few years, and experts question if that goal is perhaps a little too aggressive.
Fisker Automotive, however, is undeterred. Not only did they roll out the Karma S convertible, a hardtop and stylish two door convertible, at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, they are also planning another luxurious green auto called the Nina. The Nina Fisker will be a modestly priced $50,000 sedan and the Boxwood Road plant will have the honor of producing it. The company is also planning on releasing an SUB and a coupe in the next few model years.
These are all lofty goals for a company that is essentially brand new and just getting started. Even wit the government assistance being provided and the incredibly exciting cars they are going to offer, it is still a challenge. The technology is revolutionary, and not yet fully embraced. Some analysts feel that the venture is doomed to failure, given the high price tags and the lack of public awareness about what these cars can really do.
The Karma is a brilliant electric luxury car, and it needs brilliant marketing to get the target audience into the showrooms. It's important that Fisker Automotive review the fate of the Smart Fortwo vehicle. A great design, the marketing was not effective and the sales proved to be lower than anticipated.
Three long years have passed since Henrik Fisker lent his experience designing Aston Martins to creating a luxurious plug-in electric hybrid vehicle. The road has been long and challenging, and it would be truly tragic to see it dead-end in failure due to ineffective marketing. The Karma features a 2.0-litre direct-injection and turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine that is actually produced by GM. The power is a strong 257bhp and the engine is designed to run at maximum efficiency as much as possible. The combustion engine actually works to feed a generator which then power the two drive motors.
Each drive motor creates 105kW of energy. The primary power source is the 20kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which consumes the aluminum backbone chassis. Plugging in the battery for an eight hour charge cycle will create enough stored energy for drivers to run about 300 miles, more than enough to run their errands the next day. Charging the hybrid to full power will cost about $3.00 each time.
Unlike other electric cars that are weak on power, the Karma can hit 60 mph in an impressive 4.6 seconds. The top speed is 125 mph, but there is a 90-second over-boost that will allow the driver to go up to 143 mph. The early figures on fuel consumption show that the vehicle will travel anywhere from 81 to 118 miles on a single gallon of gas. Naturally, how aggressive you are with the accelerator determines how far that gallon of gas will take you, and how often you will need to visit the corner gas station.
Those people who are striving to conserve as much power as possible can also choose the truly eco-friendly 'Stealth-mode'. When this is used, the electric luxury car will require about 6.5 seconds to reach sixty miles per hour, and the top speed will be a still-impressive 95 mph. The Karma can go fifty miles before producing any emissions when driven in ideal circumstances. This mode also prevents the engine from turning on at all unless the batteries are low and it is truly needed.
There are some other interesting aspects of this fine sedan. When batteries are fully charged, and it is coasting down a hill in regeneration mode, there is nowhere for the surplus energy to actually go. Therefore it goes to work turning the engine at a very low rpm. The vehicle is a lightweight 959 pounds, but getting that metal to move still requires a bit of power. To prevent the tires from squealing and twisting, the ESP switches to overload, helping to save the tires and extend their life. The ESP calibration is being fine-tuned, but this is a fine feature that is very exciting and revolutionary.
The Karma also has double-wishbone suspension in both the front and rear with self-leveling dampers in the back of the vehicle. The sub-frames are isolated and the tires are specifically made for these vehicles. They have taller sidewalls, creating a softer, more luxurious ride. Rack-and-pinion hydraulic steering with power assist makes it easy to maneuver. From lock to lock on the steering wheel is 2.7 turns, making the car fun and exciting to handle. The braking systems have been reviewed and are found to be fantastic at getting the car to stop smartly and safely.
The Fisker Karma has been much anticipated. Three years of waiting is finally nearing an end, and this luxurious and environmentally friendly sedan will be hitting showroom floors. Inexpensive to drive, with impressive range and a truly luxurious feel, this auto will be exciting to drive. With more exciting models being released, including the Nina Fisker and the Karma S convertible, there is a lot to be excited about. Owners are sure to ride in them proudly and often. It is the perfect vehicle for any lover of luxury automobiles who also cares about protecting the environment.
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