Print 29 comment(s) - last by PlasmaBomb.. on Feb 23 at 11:34 AM

Karma Hybrid comes with a drool worthy body and a near $100k price tag

Although many people had doubts whether Fisker's voluptuous Karma hybrid would ever make it to production, the company is making good on its promise to take on the big guns in the automotive world. To show its good faith, Fisker gave automotive publications the chance to test its first hybrid sedan.

For those that don't remember, the Karma features a turbocharged 2.0-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine (supplied by General Motors) that develops 260hp. In addition, the Karma also features two rear-mounted 201hp electric motors (402hp total) which get their power from a 21 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Like the current generation Prius (as an optional feature), there are solar panels in the roof to power interior accessories.

According to the previews, despite having a relatively complex and powerful 260hp engine on tap, it is only used as a generator. As a result, the Karma's electric motors are always providing the forward thrust for the vehicle.

Car and Driver:

Tugging the “sport” paddle to the left of the steering wheel brings additional energy to bear. When the gasoline engine kicks in to supplement the battery pack’s wattage—to trim the 0-to-60-mph run from a claimed 7.9 seconds to 5.9, or to add 250 miles to the driving range—the extra thrust is accompanied by the whistle of a turbo spooling up, the snarl of angry exhaust gas, and a resonant boom or two…

But the physics conspire against it keeping pace with other $100K sports sedans. In spite of the joys of low-rpm electric torque, the realities of a curb weight well above 4000 pounds and only one gear ratio mean that mileage is where this car excels. 

Inside Line:

All the exterior panels on the Karma are made of either aluminum — including the hood and outer door panels — or molded resin composite as on all four fender panels. The supersize 124.4-inch wheelbase (almost 10 inches longer than on a Porsche Panamera) is the exterior's most notable dimension and the 22-inch wheels bookend the look quite nicely... 

Our only gripe was that the Karma didn't feel as solid all around as its German and Japanese competitors. Wind noise and road noise, however, are very well contained overall. Some smaller wheels might help out in the ride quality department, too, but according to Fisker's engineers, a change in that direction would bring the center member of the steering mechanism a little too close to the ground. A set of 21-inch all-season tires is as small as they're willing to go. 


But the Karma has several vital factors in its favor, not least its stop-the-traffic looks, its thorough engineering, its great driving characteristics and a price that, while high, doesn’t look unrealistic against the competition. If the car makes a good start — and the 3,000 orders already held seem to promise as much — it could easily become the next must-have automobile among Hollywood’s glitterati. 

The 2012 Fisker Karma is expected to have a base price of $95,500. Conveniently, this places it in direct competition with the Porsche Panamera Hybrid S (base price $95,000). There's no question that the Karma has the Panamera beat (by far) on looks, but the Panamera has a proven family history/pedigree while the Karma is starting with a clean slate. 

With 3,000 buyers having already waiting in line to get their hands on the Karma, at least a wealthy few are willing to give the vehicle a chance.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Woooo 1/4 of HP max from roof solar panels
By superPC on 2/21/2011 8:28:37 AM , Rating: 0
worse than that. the best solar panel in production only converts 13 W per square ft or about 130 W per square meter. if there's a 3 square meter solar panel on that car it would take days to charge it.

see for yourself in wiki (i can't link the web since it said "This comment is apparently spam and we do not allow spam comments" every time i tried to)...

By theapparition on 2/21/2011 9:54:24 AM , Rating: 5
The roof panels don't attempt to charge the car. They are only to supplement accessory power only.

I believe the Prius has something similar that only uses the power to ventilate the car while parked, keeping interior temperatures down.

By Thats Mr Gopher to you on 2/21/2011 10:51:08 AM , Rating: 5
To have known that they would have had to read the article properly. Don't be silly. You know most people who comment on here only read enough to see something they can kick up some ridiculous fuss about.

Not that I'm saying the solar panels on the car are a great idea. The tiny benefit you get from them is simply not enough to warrant their expense. They are a gimmick.

RE: Woooo 1/4 of HP max from roof solar panels
By mars2k on 2/21/2011 4:05:26 PM , Rating: 2
The solar panels don't have to charge the car completely they only have to provide enough power to justify their weight + a little more. OK so if you say it would take "days" to charge the car, how many days are you talking about? 2? 3? How about putting PV on every horizontal surface? If it takes 3 days and you double the surface area and sit the car outdoors in the sun while you're inside working wouldn't that get you home at night?
My point is that any gain is good if it's a net gain and saves carbon based fuel.

By phxfreddy on 2/21/2011 4:21:51 PM , Rating: 1
And you Mr Mars2k are my point incarnate. You say "anything is a good think" at the cost of common sense and fiscal sanity.

Thank you for bringing my strawman to life. Isn't that straw poking out your pant leg itchy???

Poor libs can figure out anything for themselves. They wait till they get their marching orders from NPR and the repeat it endlessly.

By JediJeb on 2/21/2011 6:00:47 PM , Rating: 2
The solar panels would take infinite time to recharge the car since in the article it says they are only used to help run accessories. They keep the radio and fans from drawing too much power from the batteries they don't charge the battery in any way at all.

By Solandri on 2/21/2011 8:05:34 PM , Rating: 2
Pulls out favorite rhyme:

In fourteen hundred and ninety two,
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
Divide the year of his voyage by two,
and you get the number of watts in a horsepower.

Assume a 1 m^2 rooftop. 130 W peak is only 0.17 hp. If you figure the car like most needs 25 hp to maintain highway cruise, at noon the roof panel extends the car's battery range by .17/25 = 0.68%. For a 25 mile drive during a rush hour commute when the sun is not at peak, the panels are probably only providing about 0.1 miles extra range. About 500 feet.

How about saving money in terms of staving off when the gas engine will kick in? Well, the article says with the gas engine it'll get 40 mpg highway. So that extra 500 feet represents 0.0024 gallons of gas saved. At $3/gal and a 25 mile commute, that's 0.7 cents worth of gas you save per trip. 2 trips a day, 250 trips a year, that's $3.50/year in gas you save.

Now say if instead of running accessories, they had made it so the panel is used to charge the battery while the car is parked. Figure over an 8 hour work-day the roof panel generates 65 W average, that's a total of 0.52 kW-hr per day. Electricity costs about $0.11 per kW-hr, so it'll save you 5.7 cents worth of electricity per day running it. If the panels cost you $200 to install (which is a little cheaper than what you'll pay for your home), it'll take 9.6 years for them to pay for themselves. Assuming every day is sunny.

It's a marketing gimmick, nothing more. People vastly overestimate how much power you can get from solar without covering huge swaths of area with panels. There's a reason all those "cars" in those solar powered races look like little more than bicycles with a housing covered in solar panels on top of them.

By PlasmaBomb on 2/23/2011 11:34:08 AM , Rating: 2
Assuming that the solar PV cells generate as much as the Prius' cells typically do (165 W (215 Max W)), then it would take -

21kW = 21,000W / 165W = 127 days 6 hours 28 minutes 48 seconds of continuous sunlight to generate the maximum 21kW the batteries can hold...

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
Related Articles

Most Popular Articles5 Cases for iPhone 7 and 7 iPhone Plus
September 18, 2016, 10:08 AM
No More Turtlenecks - Try Snakables
September 19, 2016, 7:44 AM
ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment in Children: Problem or Paranoia?
September 19, 2016, 5:30 AM
Walmart may get "Robot Shopping Carts?"
September 17, 2016, 6:01 AM
Automaker Porsche may expand range of Panamera Coupe design.
September 18, 2016, 11:00 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki