After a week involving fires, financial woes and recalls, it looks like things may be looking up for Fisker Automotive: its 2012 Karma plug-in hybrid is the second best-selling 4-door luxury car in the Netherlands.

As PlugInCars reports, Fisker’s founder Henrik Fisker is ecstatic.

“How many U.S. auto companies have been successful penetrating any European market?,” Henrik Fisker said. “We were the number two selling four-door luxury car in the Netherlands in the first quarter of this year. And we outsold the Maserati Quattroporte globally for the first quarter.”

That might sound impressive, but dig a little deeper, and the sales figures don’t seem quite so impressive. 

The market is small

First of all, the luxury sedan market in Europe isn’t all that large. 

2012 Fisker Karma EcoChic, New York City, Jan 2012

2012 Fisker Karma EcoChic, New York City, Jan 2012

In fact, F-Segment cars -- the term used to classify all full-size luxury cars in Europe -- is the smallest segment in the European car market. 

For reference, in 2010, F-Segment cars accounted for less than 1 percent of all new car registrations in the whole of Europe.   

That includes cars like the BMW 7-Series, Mercedes-Benz S Class, Audi A8 and Porsche Panamera. 

In other words, Fisker is celebrating being the second most-popular car in the smallest segment of the new car market.

Low production volumes

Second, we know that Fisker hasn’t made that many cars.

So far, we know that Fisker has probably built around 2,000 cars to date, but since exact sales figures have not been forthcoming, there is no way to tell for sure how many have been sold. 

Given the relative sizes of the Netherlands to the U.S., we’d be surprised if more than a few hundred cars have been sold there. 

Sales helped by incentives

2012 Fisker Karma EcoSport

2012 Fisker Karma EcoSport

Unlike the U.S., car buyers in the Netherlands are not given a government tax credit to offset the purchase of a qualifying plug-in car. 

Instead, all plug-in cars are exempt from paying any purchase tax. 

At anything up to 45 percent of the list price of the vehicle in question, the absence of purchase tax is a big incentive to make the switch to a plug-in car. 

In fact, it also explains why a large number of other electric cars -- like the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf -- have been sold in the country.

Plug-in cars are also exempt from company car tax in the Netherlands.

Normally levied against those who use a corporately-owned car as a private car, driving a plug-in car like the Fisker Karma can save its driver a lot of money. 

Real sales?

Of course, without real sales figures, it’s difficult to gauge just how popular the 2012 Fisker Karma really is. 

But we know one thing.

Being second in the smallest market segment in Europe doesn’t make it a best-selling car. 


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