Fisker Karma (2008): first official pictures

Published: 14 January 2008

If you can’t wait for a production Cadillac Provoq, and you’ve got a spare $80,000, the Fisker Karma may be for you. The voluptuous high-performance coupe is a plug-in hybrid designed by ex-Aston man and CEO of Fisker Automotive, Henrik Fisker.

Its ‘Quantum Drive’ hybrid system, was developed by Quantam Technologies four years ago as a confidential project for the US military’s Delta Force. The company then got together with Fisker Coachbuild, its neighbour in Irvine, California, and the pair formed a new company to raise capital for the project with Henrik Fisker as CEO. (He was even able to name-check Al Gore as a director of one of the venture finance partners).

A military-spec hybrid system, you say?

A small four-cylinder engine keeps company with a generator beneath the bonnet, while a stack of lithium-ion batteries form a transmission tunnel-style hump down the spine, as in the Volt.

Two driving modes are described as ‘stealth’ (electric power) or total power, where the motor aids the engine. In the latter case, Fisker promises 0-60mph in 5.8sec, a top speed of 125mph, and a sound ‘somewhere between an F1 car and a jet plane.’

If you’ve plugged the Karma in overnight, your first 50 miles can be in stealth mode; solar panels on the roof also top up battery power if you park in the sun, or they can be used to cool the interior.

Sounds nice, but is it going to happen?

Fisker hopes to sell 15,000 cars per a year, starting from the fourth quarter of 2009. It’s got a lot to sort out first, however, including where it will be built and who will sell it. Negotiations are also continuing with an engine supplier, and the company is working on a supercharging system.

Says Fisker: ‘As a 100% car guy, this is a car I was waiting for. The technology allows great opportunities for design. A green car can be sexier than any car in the world, why not?’

They say: This is the future
We say: The future may not be ready by 2009
Car verdict: 4/5

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