Fiskers Karma Plug In Hybrid Makes Public Debut at Laguna Seca Raceway

Crowds at last Saturday’s Monterey Historic Automobile Races at Laguna Seca raceway this past Saturday were treated to a demonstration of the Karma electric vehicle (EV).

With company COO Bernhard Koehler at the wheel, the Karma reached top speeds of about 100 mph as it lapped the track ahead of a group of classic Porsche 908s and 917s. Some spectators commented on the odd sensation of watching a vehicle travel at such high speeds in virtual silence.

Adding to the amazement is the fact that the performance came a little over a year and a half after the Karma made its debut at the Detroit Auto Show.

Fisker spokesman Russell Datz put the accomplishment in perspective saying, “Fisker Automotive is only 19 months old, and we’re already as far along with the Karma as General Motors is with the Volt.”

The Karma shares many of the Volt’s technologies, but the two are worlds apart when it comes to styling. Although the Volt is contemporary and sleek, the Karma takes styling to the next level; from attractive to downright sexy. Some have compared the body styling to the 2009 Maserati Quattroporte which lists for $119,750 – $125,750 and was recently voted the No.1 Exotic Car by U.S. News and World Report.

Commenting on the Karma’s distinctive styling, company founder Henrik Fisker says, “I wanted to design something that is timeless.” Fisker, who designed the Aston Martin DB9 and BMW Z8, also says, “If I designed another 7-Series, no one would buy it. I had to do something radical.”

The Karma’s interior is rich and luxurious. Designer Alexander Klatt echoed the curve of the vehicle’s hood with a feature-rich dash that features a 10.5” touch screen navigation and climate control system. Klatt cites the 3-by-4 “golden ratio” found in nature, the symmetry of the human body and Bauhaus design philosophy as influences.

The Karma is powered by a 23-kilowatt-hour lithium-manganese Enerdel battery. Under the hood, Fisker has equipped the Karma with twin electric motors that deliver 403 hp and 959 pound-feet of torque. The battery provides a 50-mile range compared to the 40-mile range Chevy claims for the Volt’s lithium-ion battery pack. As the Karma’s battery becomes depleted, a GM Ecotec, 2.4-litre, turbocharged engine powers a 175-kilowatt generator to power the engines.

The automaker claims that the Karma will deliver 100 mpg combined city / highway driving.

Fisker currently has 12 prototypes in development, and the Karma is set to begin rolling off the assembly lines in May of 2010. The company expects the base list price to be $87,900.

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