In a world where a “hybrid” car is often associated with ultra-compact, deliberately hideous hatchbacks with cheap interiors crafted from “green materials”, the upcoming Fisker Karma premium plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) sports sedan looks like a breath of fresh air with its long, beautifully sculpted body, aggressive visual accents and futuristic interior. And, judging by all the press and positive initial reviews that I have seen so far, the Karma seems to be one of the most awaited performance vehicles featuring an alternative drive system. Of course, a new set of photos is always a welcome development.
Besides the photos that you can see below, there was also revealed some new information regarding the vehicle’s projected specs. Powered by an advanced “Q DRIVE” plug-in hybrid system that was reportedly developed by a company named “Quantum Technologies” exclusively for Fisker Automotive, the car may be used as a pure electric vehicle while driving in the city cycle, and will turn on its internal combustion engine only on the highway. Seriously studied by a number of car manufacturing brands, the concept of an “extended drive” allows to combat the electric vehicle’s main problem: the relatively low range that stems from the current generation’s lithium-ion battery packs that are still not dense enough to store all the energy needed for a coast-to-coast travel.
So, pundits have found a workaround the problem: for an average ride between the office and home, you can use the vehicle’s electric drive. For an extended ride to the in-laws you will have to turn on the internal combustion (or, like it is the case with most modern PHEVs, the engine will turn on automatically and, hopefully, seamlessly at the moment when the energy stored in the battery pack reaches a level programmed in the Q Drive’s firmware.)
Equipped with a pack of lithium-ion batteries and a set of optional solar panels on its roof, the Karma will be able to travel around 50 miles (80.5 kilometers) on a single charge. Although the numbers don’t sound really impressive, these are good enough for an average daily commuter not to spend a single dime on gasoline.
For longer travels, there is a 2.0-liter Ecotec direct-injection turbo engine.
Also powering the performance-oriented 2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP and the Chevrolet HHR SS, the engine can produce about 260hp and 260lb-ft of torque making the Karma a nice sports car with a 0-60mph acceleration time below six seconds and a top speed of 125 mph (201 km/h).
If everything goes as planned (and nothing goes as planned in times like these), the Fisker Karma will be produced in Finland by Valmet Automotive that currently manufactures the Porsche Cayman and Boxster sports cars.
Fisker Automotive plans to start shipping the Karma by the end of next year although the target still seems to be sort of aggressive given that we still haven’t seen a production-ready vehicle, so to speak, in the flesh. The production-version Karma is expected to sell at a price of $87,900.
Photos: Fisker Automotive