When the EPA's official MPG figures were released for the 2012 Fisker Karma a few days ago, we can't have been the only ones a little disappointed with the 20 MPG figure on gasoline and 52 MPG equivalent in EV mode.

There were even suggestions the low 20 MPG rating on gasoline could hurt the DoE car loan program that helps fund the development of low energy vehicles.

Fisker appears to be worried potential customers would be disappointed too and has quickly responded to the sticker rating on its Facebook page.

"We do not believe that the label communicates the entire story", explains Fisker. "As Karma drivers, you can utilize our electric-only mode most of the time - especially in the city - thereby achieving a much higher MPG than suggested by the EPA fuel economy label and contributing zero emissions during day-to-day driving".

Fisker still maintains that most drivers will get up to 50 miles of all-electric driving range on a full charge, rather than the 32 miles suggested by the EPA.

The company also points out - quite rightly - that drivers who regularly do short distances will rarely need to fill up with gasoline at all. This has certainly been the case for drivers of the Chevrolet Volt, some of whom have burned barely a gallon of gas in their time with the car.

Fisker sees the Karma as an uncompromised machine - one in which you can drive to work and back without a drop of gasoline, but a car in which you can tackle longer drives too. "[Fisker drivers] do not have to choose between driving pure-electric or having unlimited range. The Karma Sedan gives you both options".

It's not the first time the EPA ratings on an electric car have failed to tell the whole story, and it points to a system that is as yet unsuitable for measuring the energy use of electric vehicles, and only serves to offer a basic comparison with regular cars.

Fisker does point to some positivity from the ratings. The Karma has a tailpipe CO2 rating of 188 g/mi, about half that of the cars Fisker sees as direct competitors and better than nearly every hybrid on the market today.

Of course, by the standards of other plug-in cars and range extended vehicles like the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, the Karma's figures are pretty awful. 20 MPG on gasoline is 17 MPG less than the Volt achieves, and many consider the Chevy's figure a little disappointing. Measured by the standards of other super sedans it's still not terrific - the 2012 BMW M5 manages 23.7 MPG combined from its twin-turbo V8. Even so, Karma owners are unlikely to care too much, and the car still has its electric range to fall back on.

We'll leave the last word to Fisker though, as it's relevant whatever car you choose to drive.

"In short, the fuel economy of your Karma Sedan will depend on how you use it."


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