19 Months After its Unveiling, Fisker Karma to Make its Public Driving Debut

fisker karma plug-in hybrid photo

Photo: Fisker Automotive
We Finally Get to See it in Action
Fisker has just announced that its Karma plug-in hybrid (similar in many ways to the Chevy Volt) will make its public driving debut at the Monterey Historic Automobile Races on Saturday, August 15. That's 19 months after the car was introduced at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show. The Karma Sunset hardtop convertible will again be on display at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Sunday, August 16.
fisker karma plug-in hybrid photo

Photo: Fisker Automotive

For those who haven't been paying attention in the past 19 months, here's Fisker's description of the Karma:

The Fisker Karma PHEV represents a paradigm shift in alternatively-powered transportation. A full-size luxury sedan with seating for four, the Karma has a range of 50 emission-free miles on a full charge of its Lithium-ion battery, and a total range of 300 miles thanks to an on-board generator turned by traditional but efficient 260hp Ecotec engine. Two 201.5hp electric motors send enough traction through a single-speed differential to reach 60mph in about six seconds and a top speed of 125mph. Together, these components make up the Q-DRIVE® powertrain exclusive to all Fisker automobiles. Q-DRIVE® delivers not only performance, but can average more than 100mpg with a lower carbon output than current hybrids.

Basically, the main benefit is that the gasoline engine only kicks in after the battery is depleted (which should be after 50 miles), so for most people on most days, the gasoline engine might never turn on, functionally making the Karma an electric car on those days. But when you want to drive for more than 50 miles, the gas engine extends the range.

The downsides are weight and complexity. A battery electric car has a more limited range, but it doesn't have to lug a gas engine around, there are fewer moving parts that can fail, and the battery gets cycled less often, extending its life.

The good news is that improvements in battery technology (energy density and cost) will benefit both battery electric cars and plug-in hybrids.

Via Fisker

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