As  promised in a July announcement,  Fisker's luxury PHEV made its public driving debut at the annual Monterey Historic Automobile Races this weekend at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California.  The Karma prototype ran one demonstration lap of the track in front of thousands of spectators before returning to the infield to be surrounded by an admiring crowd.  This annual event,  frequented as it is by wealthy team owners, collectors and vintage car aficionados, was a natural for promoting what will essentially be a new brand of luxury vehicle which also happens to be a plug-in hybrid.

After the Karma's lap, company founder Henrik Fisker lingered near the vehicle taking questions from interested spectators.  According to Fisker, the car is still on track to be available for sale in May of next year, with over a thousand pre-orders allready taken.  He noted that the car is currently scheduled for official U.S. Government crash testing in the coming weeks, though official EPA fuel economy ratings may take somewhat longer.  Asked to speculate on gas mileage,  Fisker would only say that the Karma will be capable of "well over 100 mpg.", although he noted that if the same measurement protocol is used that generated the recent Chevy Volt number of 230 PMG city, the Karma would likely be rated at around 140 MPG.   It's not yet clear whether the new standard for EPA testing of plug-in hybrid vehicles will come into play before the Karma is subjected to the procedure.

Similar to the Chevy Volt in many ways (and in fact using a GM-sourced gasoline engine as it's range-extender) the Karma differs in being intended to compete for the luxury-sedan niche currently dominated by vehicles such as the BMW 7 series and Mercedes CL.  Performance should be brisk, with Fisker predicting 5.8-sec. 0 to 60 mph sprints and a 125 mph top-speed, while exterior and interior styling and appointments, as demonstrated at Monterey,  will be commensurate with it's expected price of nearly $90,000.00.  The company predicts that the car will be able to travel 50 miles on its lithium Ion batteries alone before using any gasoline, in spite of of a fairly typical luxury-sedan weight of over 5000 pounds.   Fisker has announced a production rate of 15,000 vehicles/year during the first year.

Although in the past the Karma has had to face a certain amount of skepticism from industry analysts,  public demonstration of a rolling prototype seems a welcome sign that Fisker is moving forward and may well be able to meet its ambitious goals.  

[SOURCE: Motor Trend]