2012 Fisker Karma Vs. 2012 Tesla Model S: Video Debate

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2012 Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S

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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.


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Comments (29)
  1. Not 32 MPG-e he meant to say, 32 miles in electric mode.

  2. 160 miles in the base Tesla model S not 180 miles.

  3. Not $40,000 down, $5000 down on the model S.

  4. $40k down for the first 500 signature editions.

  5. First 1,000 in US, +200 in Canada, +500 EU/Asia.

  6. Are you sure you will not allow us to attack the authors? sigh.

    Anyway, considering that the Model S can carry 7 passengers and has a "frunk" for storage in addition to the hatchback, versus the Fisker Karma which has no space, it would have been worth a mention.

  7. Is this really a question? Model S blows Fisker out of the water!

    Also, the deposit is $5000, $40,000 is only for the signature edition.

  8. Boys..Boys...Boys.

    Let me make this a lot more interesting. April 6th, 2012 - New York International Auto Show. Fisker will show you the "Project Nina"

    For the $ - Fisker Nina gets my vote.

  9. The Nina is a closer competitor to the Model S not the Karma. But my vote is with the Model S, it's going to be far better in every aspect. Especially if the poor packaging and poor build quality found on the Karma carries over to the Nina.

  10. Interesting discussion. Background music too loud and annoying, however.

  11. Tesla seats 5 Adults in comfort and 2 kids in the rear facing jump seat in the hatch area. As to practicality the Model S has it all. Great looks, great storage capacity great performance with the Model S sport. The Karma only has the interior room of a compact car while the Tesla Model is is a Luxury sports sedan that will seat 5 people and carry their luggage. You would be hard pressed to bring your golf clubs in the Karma. The Model S will fit a moutain bike a surfboard and a 40 inch Tv all at the same time. Fold down the rear seats and its almost minvan like in space. Hands down Tesla Model S wins.

  12. Gentlemen, the back an forth banter on the Karma and Tesla S is ridiuclous. The Karma is on the road and in the hands of more than a thousand owners. The Tesla S is smoke and mirrors, there is no car for production. All that has been shown is a preproduciotn mock-up. Then to take the attention off of that fact Tesla shows a prototype SUV. Wouldn't you think if they had a car they would show a running and driving car for pre-prduction evaluation by the press as Fisker did??? How can you talk potential numbers on performance and dirveablity when there actually is no car? Tesla's only production and sale of a car was a Lotus produced car with a Tesla E driveline, hardly a major coup in automotive inovation and design.

  13. Ok. Did you read about the October factory event in Fremont? There was press there. The car is more farther along than 'smoke and mirrors'. They are locking in the first orders now for delivery in June or July. There is a big difference between what Tesla has now and something like the Nina which no one has seen or ridden in.
    Also, which 1,000 or so Karmas have been delivered, I wouldn't exactly call it a smooth rollout and something to be proud of.

  14. Report from the future: deliveries beginning. June to a few Founders, starting on Signature buyers in July.

  15. The back and forth banter is ridiculous because these cars are NOT in the same class. It is so tiring to see the continued comparison of hybrids to all-electrics. Go ahead and compare the Karma to the Volt or the Prius...and then compare BMW's Active E (which you can only lease) to the Leaf, the Coda (really?), the Model S or even the Roadster. A more compelling review would have actually been the Leaf vs the Active E. I've been in both, and would take the Leaf over the BMW any day of the week. I've also been in the Model S (twice) as well as the Roadster (this morning :-)). And the number of incorrect facts that were presented in this video was truly disappointing.

  16. Since the Karma is a hybrid and the Model S is an all electric; the Model S is a family car, the Karma is not; the Model S has enough storage space that you can almost get a 40 foot yacht in, and you have to squeeze a match box into the Karma...I cannot see how you can compare them. The Model S is the most advanced electric car in America, so, in any contest, the Model S it will get about 400 million thumbs up.

  17. So far Tesla has delivered a few thousand really fast go-carts for rich guys. Hopefully the Model S comes to fruition. But when it comes right down to it all electric cars don't sell well. People are afraid of going on a trip, running out of juice, not being able to find a plug, and being stuck. The Karma certainly has had several minor post-launch issues - just like any other new technology. But the technology is more viable to a much broader base of potential buyers - if you run out of juice just go to the gas station. No "range anxiety." There are very experienced auto executives at Fisker who know how to make well built cars. It they can put it all together in the Nina, that one will far outsell the Model S.

  18. A gas car with a battery in it is not new tech and other manufacturers have them on the road. I really hope the Nina does well. I love the Model S and it gets my vote. I want to see all electric car companies do well. I hate GM but if they put out an all electric I will pull for them too.
    A hybrid is a hybrid, an EV is an EV, leave them in separate categories. it's simple... if gas goes in it, it's not an EV it's a hybrid.
    "Definition: A hybrid vehicle is a vehicle that uses an on-board rechargeable energy storage system (RESS) and a fuel based power source for vehicle propulsion".

    I am not condemning hybrids just pointing out the difference.

  19. Tesla S, I want a green car, not a 20mpg skateboard, better off in a Prius than the Fiskar.

  20. For "David Morse": Fisker has built about 1500 cars and delivered sold about 1,000 - all in the first 4 months of available production and delivery. Tesla has delivered 1200 cars total production of the roadster, so the compaisons there are very obvious about which is a serious car company. The Nina is not even in the ballpark yet as it is just developmental for the future. The comparison here is between the Karma and the Tesla roadster.

  21. Tesla has delivered 2500 roadsters which is small when compared to the LEAF and Volt, but significant considering the high sticker price and limited practicality.

    As for the Fisker Karma, they haven't been shipping that long but look to be on track to sell in numbers similar to the roadster at a similar price in a car that is slightly more practical but still pretty small.

    Honestly, I can see way there is so much excitement (and skepticism) about the model S. If Tesla pulls this off, on time, on price, and on quality, it will be a revolution.

  22. *why now way

  23. I'll go along with the silly comparisons, but this happens because there are so few EVs and EREVs out there.

    The proper comparison for the Fisker Karma is the Volt. The Volt is vastly superior in engineering, quality, practicality, and economy. The Karma is better looking and has marginally better acceleration.

    Comparison for the Model S gets harder as it is not in the same price bracket as the LEAF, Coda, or Focus EV. The bottom line of the Model S is just a little more than the Coda, and has similar range, but much sleeker, more room and features.

    The rational for comparing the Karma and Model S is that the top line Model S is close to the same price as the Karma. Is 300 mile range enough?

  24. That was the lamest debate I've ever seen.

  25. $40K deposit was only for the Signature version, now sold out. $5K is for all other models.

  26. It's certainly exciting to debate about cars, but we're missing the point.. and by far has anyone ever analyzed the actual expected and potential ENVIRINMENTAL impact these 2 cars (and car companies) might (or MIGHT NOT) make?!

    Both cars are both performance designed and priced out of the mainstream. By the time (if ever) enough of these cars actually replace current internal combustion engine automobiles to make a dent in the environment, it would already be too late.

    However, if this is a shot in the dark by 2 new USA DoE subsidized, would-be, global automakers.. than perhaps, those are more probable and realistic goals.

  27. The Tesla Model S is better in every area that counts at a lesser price. It is much better quality, safer, faster, more practical, more useful, more convenient, doesn't use gas-EVER, handles better, is higher tech, etc. Who in their right mind would buy a Fisker?

  28. Al Gore, but he's disqualified on the "in their right mind" part.

  29. Very unprofessional video and a waste of time. Both "talents" dress like slobs and Feder needs a shave. High Gear is stuck in low and I will NOT stay tuned. Embarrassing.

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