2009 Fisker Karma

2009 Fisker Karma

When you think of startup companies planning to build luxury sedans with advanced electric powertrains, one name springs instantly to mind: Tesla Motors.

Among the executive battles, government loans, and launch hoopla around the electric 2012 Tesla Model S sports sedan, the company gets rafts of attention--not all of it good.

But another company, Fisker Auto, has been quietly beavering away out there. Under former BMW designer Henrik Fisker, the copmany has created a low, sleek, luxury sports sedan with a plug-in hybrid powertrain.

And, remarkably, 18 months after unveiling their Karma concept at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, Fisker appears to be on track to build the first ones by the end of this year and deliver customer cars by next May or June.

The 2010 Fisker Karma will offer 400 horsepower of peak power, for a 0-to-60-mph time of less than 6 seconds, and it will retail for $87,000.

The Karma's small 2.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine will be sourced from General Motors; the 22-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack comes from Canada’s Advanced Lithium Power.

The Karma, in fact, uses a similar series hybrid architecture to the 2011 Chevrolet Volt: It operates exclusively on electricity for up to 50 miles, depending on how aggressively it's driven, and then the gasoline engine generates enough electricity to run 250 more miles.

As always, the proof is in the pudding. When we get behind the wheel of a working 2010 Fisker Karma--which no journalist has yet done--then we'll be able to assess whether the car is a viable product.

And when we see the first customers driving away in their Fisker Karmas, we'll be convinced the company is actually real. But the company says it has 1,400 deposits, which

But there's something to be said for a privately funded company that appears to operate without government loans grants and pretty much keeps to its deadlines. Tesla, are you listening?

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[GreenTechMedia via EVworld]