2009 Fisker Karma

2009 Fisker Karma

For next month's Detroit Auto Show, we're making our list and checking it twice.

But it turns out that one notable name in green cars is giving the country's largest auto show a miss.

Fisker Automotive confirmed to GreenCarReports yesterday that it won't be present at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show, even though its first 2011 Karma range-extended electric vehicles are scheduled to arrive at U.S. dealers in March or April.

Fisker Karma

Fisker Karma

Next up: Geneva in March

The company's next appearance, said spokesman Russell Datz, will be the Geneva Motor Show in March. Fisker had previously showed what it called the first production Karma at the Paris Motor Show, and announced the North American debut of the Karma luxury sports sedan at last month's Los Angeles Auto Show.

Datz reaffirmed the start of regular production is still "scheduled for March." And echoing his September assertion that journalists will get a chance behind the wheel before customers, he said media drives will start "very soon."

Concern: Is it real?

Concern over Fisker's future has grown louder in recent months as the production edges closer and closer without any independent third parties having driven the 2011 Karma. (Excepting His Royal Highness Frederik, Crown Prince of Denmark, who drove an early prototype Karma last December.)

On the other hand, powertrain supplier Quantum announced a $30 million order from Fisker in September, saying production was on track to ramp up next February.

Four years, unchanged

To be fair, if it did appear, Fisker would be showing a Karma that's visually unchanged for four years the fourth year in a row. The concept for the Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid was first unveiled at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, just months before the auto industry's global downturn.

[NOTE: Datz later pointed out that Fisker did not exhibit at this year's 2010 Detroit Auto Show either.]

Delays are common among startup automakers, though in Fisker's case, a last-minute switch in lithium-ion cell suppliers for the Karma's 22.6-lithium-ion kilowatt-hour battery pack certainly couldn't have helped.

While final production specs haven't been issued, Fisker has consistently said that the 2011 Karma will travel 50 miles in electric mode, using only electricity from the battery.

After the pack is depleted, a range-extending 2.0-liter direct-injected four-cylinder GM Ecotec engine switches on to power a generator that flows electricity to the drive motors for a further 250 miles of range.

Open to partnership

The Karma's rear wheels are powered by a pair of 150-kilowatt electric motors. Fisker has claimed a 0-to-62-mph time of less than 6 seconds, along with a top speed of more than 125 miles per hour.

In October, founder Henrik Fisker said the company would be open to a "strategic partnership" with another automaker--much as Tesla Motors has partnered first with Daimler, and most recently with Toyota.

The most likely candidate would seem to be General Motors, which supplies the Karma's engine and other components. Also, Fisker acquired a former GM plant in Delaware to build its next vehicle, the midsize "Nina" plug-in hybrid range.