January 12, 2008 Fisker Automotive has just taken the wraps off the much anticipated technology demonstrator that will become the second model in its plug-in hybrid sportscar range at the 2009 NAIAS. The new two-door, four-seater, hard-top convertible joins the four-door sedan model announced at last year's show and is built on the same versatile Q-DRIVE platform on which the company's range will be based. The sedan model, which boasts a 50 mile electric-drive only range, acceleration of 0-60 in 5.8 seconds and a top speed of 125mph, remains on track for delivery later this year, while the Karma S is expected to hit showrooms in 2011.

The Q-DRIVE® system, which is designed and engineered by Quantum Technologies exclusively for Fisker Automotive, uses a lithium-ion battery pack to deliver the 50 mile emission-free range on a single charge and puts out up to 403hp from two rear-mounted, 150kW electric motors. In battery only ("Stealth mode") a top speed of 95 mph (153 km/h) is possible and when combined with the mid-mounted, 265hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter internal combustion engine ("Sport mode") this jumps to 125 mph (200 km/h). In the combined mode the range of the vehicle increases to 300 miles (483km). Given that the S being showcased in Detroit is a technology demonstrator, it is possible that modifications may be made before the 2011 release.

The Fisker Karma S also shares the aluminum spaceframe architecture of the sedan, but has a slightly shorter wheelbase. The big change is of course the hard-top convertible configuration, which means that the solar panels featured on the sedan will now be placed on the rear-deck. Because there is less surface to work with the size and output of the solar system (120W on the sedan) is expected to be reduced by half.

Fisker Automotive has opened two facilities and established 22 retailers in the US since the sedan concept was shown in Detroit last January. CEO Henrik Fisker said today that the company plans to build 15,000 of the sedans (which will retail at USD$87,900) per year and has already received pre-orders for 3,100 vehicles. No word yet on the expected price point for the Karma S model.

Noel McKeegan

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