2012 Tesla Model SEnlarge Photo
The last U.S. volume carmaker started from scratch by entrepreneurs whose brand is still with us was Chrysler, and that was in 1924.
But Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive are both looking to change that.
Tesla started a few years ago with its electric Roadster sports car, and is about to introduce its first mainstream model, the 2012 Model S electric sedan. Fisker just launched its first electric car, the range-extended Karma sedan.
Both are technologically advanced, but which one is better?
The Model S is an all-electric sedan with three battery pack options ranging from 40 kilowatt-hours to 85 kilowatt-hours. Tesla estimates the range of those battery packs is 160 miles and 300 miles, depending on the pack size.
With a top speed of 130 mph in some models, the Model S is truly an electric luxury sports sedan. A main feature inside the car is a 17-inch touchscreen which takes up the entire center console. With a base price of $57,400, Tesla says the first Model S cars will be delivered to customers later this year.
The 2012 Fisker Karma features a range-extended powertrain similar in nature to the Chevy Volt.
With a 20-kilowatt-hour battery pack powering twin 150-kilowatt (200-hp) electric motors, Fisker says the Karma can travel up to 50 miles in electric-only mode--though the EPA rates the electric range at 32 miles and gives it a 20-mpg rating in range-extending mode.
The generator is a 2.0-liter turbocharged Ecotec four-cylinder sourced from General Motors. The price on the 2012 Karma has jumped a few times, and it now starts at $103,000.
Both of these new vehicles are radical designs from new kinds of car companies. Whether either will succeed is yet to be seen.
Watch our video debate and let us know in the Comments below which vehicle you would choose--and why.