Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Unfortunate Karma

A few months ago I somehow convinced my wife that for our weekend date we should go to the Motor Trend auto show that was in Salt Lake City that coming weekend.  Not surprisingly most of the big name manufacturers like Chevy, Dodge, Ford, Toyota, Honda, etc. were all there showcasing some of their newest models. Even Ferrari had a 458 there for people to “ooh” and “ahh” at. As we strolled through the show everything looked pretty familiar until we came across a Fisker Karma. What in the world is a Fisker? I feel like I’m pretty up to date on most things automotive but I had never heard of Fisker before. The weird name started to matter less and less as I walked around the car and realized how attractive it was. It had supercar looks with a hint of Aston Martin but it was a four door and it said hybrid on it. You may want to read that last line again because yes I did mention supercar, Aston Martin looks, four doors, and hybrid all in the same sentence. But how can this be?
2012 Fisker Karma rear 3/4 driving view
This looked nothing like a Toyota Prius or a Chevy Volt. It even looked more sophisticated than a Tesla. These dashing looks are attributable to the founder of the company, Henrik Fisker. Henrik was the design man behind the Aston Martin DB9 and V8 Vantage which are both stunning cars. This explains the somewhat Aston look of the Fisker Karma. Another difference between other electric cars and this one is the $100k price tag. But with the increase in price comes a substantial increase in performance making the Karma much quicker than any Prius out there. When the car is running off pure electric it gets to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds, which is decent, but when you flip on the gasoline engine which generates an additional 260 hp it propels you to 60 mph in an impressive 5.9 seconds.
2012 Fisker Karma badgeConsidering the car will get around 90 mpg running on pure electric and 35/40 city/highway with the gasoline engine running I’d say those performance numbers are something Fisker can be proud of. One of the cars biggest setbacks is its weight. With a gasoline engine in the front, a large battery pack in the middle, and two electric motors mounted to the rear axle this behemoth weighs in at well over two tons. So even with its supercar looks it may not be quite as nimble as a 911 around the track. Whatever the car lacks in handling though, it makes up in “greenness”. With an interior constructed of 100% animal free products, a solar panel roof to help power the electronics, a composite hood and plastic bumpers, this is a car that Greenpeace would be proud of. While the Karma sounds spectacular on paper it has faced multiple issues over the past couple years that have caused significant delays in production. The most recent setback occured when Consumer Reports purchased the $100k car directly from a dealership and it broke down soon thereafter during a routine test. Many believe that the problems Fisker is facing are due to the short amount of time in which the car was developed. So maybe Karma is the perfect name for this highly plagued hybrid. Hopefully they can resolve these issues soon because the more problems they face, the less demand there will be for this luxury electric car. 

2012 Fisker Karma interior


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