Having unveiled the Fisker Karma at NAIAS 2008, Fisker Automotive had originally intended to begin sales of the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) in late 2009, but funding setbacks saw the car's launch date delayed several times. With the first deliveries to fulfill early customer orders taking place in late July this year, the wait is now finally over for U.S. retail customers with the 2012 model year Karma sedan hitting showroom floors after the vehicle received certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week.
Along with the Chevy Volt, the Karma sedan is one of the world's first true electric vehicles (EV) with extended range, and the first luxury sedan on the market with a range-extended powertrain. Unlike hybrid vehicles that run on just the electric motor or the combustion engine or a combination of both, the Karma's 2.0-liter internal combustion engine is never used to provide the mechanical driving force to the vehicle's wheels.
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Instead, the car's engine provides extended range of up to 230 miles (370 km) by turning a generator that is used to charge the vehicle's lithium-ion battery pack, which in turn powers two electric traction motors that drive the car. The Karma's 22 kWh battery can be recharged in less than six hours using a 240 V electrical outlet and can also be charged using a standard 110 V household outlet.
Under the EPA test criteria, the Karma's all-electric range was found to be 32 miles (51 km) and have a 52 MPG-e (miles per gallon equivalent) combined city/highway fuel economy. While this isn't as good as the Volt's 93 MPG-e or the 87 MPG-e rating of the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, neither of those vehicles can boast the sports styling or sub-six second 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) acceleration of the Karma.
"We are delighted to have EPA certification and fuel economy ratings that verify the Karma's remarkable green credentials." said Henrik Fisker, CEO and co-founder of Fisker Automotive. "As with all electric vehicles, range varies greatly on the conditions of the road and how you drive the car. We firmly believe that most owners will get up to 50 miles (80 km) of driving range on a single charge and will use our electric-only mode most of the time they drive the car, thereby running on zero emissions. Overall, we are very pleased with the results of EPA's tests. The Karma is a groundbreaking product with a unique powertrain."
Fisker Automotive is selling the Karma sedan for US$95,900 for the basic model and up to $109,850 for the top of the line model.View gallery - 21 images