Dec 21

2012 Fisker Karma review

 

 

January 2013 will mark the fifth year since the Fisker Karma concept – an evocative body encasing a relatively eco-sensible plug-in hybrid drivetrain – was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Following a 47-month blur of engineering and development by Fisker Automotive, which had been founded September 2007 in Anaheim, Calif., the production Karma launched December 2011. The company says first year sales are approaching 2,000, including from a growing network in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.

Fisker’s past couple of years have seen praise juxtaposed with controversy. The start-up was essentially born into a politicized crucible, having to handle various issues from minor to perceptibly larger. We touch on some of these in a sidebar, but for now, let’s talk about Fisker’s car.

As is true for many vehicles, the Karma is not without room for improvement, but it is surprisingly good, as evidenced also by a growing list of awards.

No Holds Barred Design Exercise

 
 

If there’s any aspect that even critics cannot easily fault, it’s that the Karma is a smashingly good looking design.

Henrik Fisker and (now) Chief Executive Officer of Europe and Middle East, Bernhard “Barny” Koehler started the product design firm Fisker Coachbuild in 2005 but the ambitious partners wanted more and founded their own auto company.

Karma_Solar_Field111

The first model for Henrik’s namesake brand was drawn to be no less convincing than efforts made when he’d been a board member and design director for Aston Martin and when he worked also for DesignworksUSA – the Southern California-based BMW subsidiary where Koehler finished a 22-year career as director of operations.

Whether the Karma outdoes conventional luxury sport competitors in every respect is questionable. Included among nitpicks, we’ve heard where examples have had poorly fitted body panels, but ours had no such issues. And given what it promises, it would be a mistake to too easily dismiss the car, as it does excel in meaningful ways.

Fisker Karma Trees

The Karma is the result of Fisker’s desire to enter the green car market with a niche product among niche products – his car would exude head-turning style, deliver respectable performance, albeit this would be “responsible luxury.”

Driving one for a week, we had opportunity to bask in an experience that’s part of why some pay for this echelon of car. In a culture where you are often perceived by what you drive, showing up in a Karma is the next best thing to being some kind of star.

We fielded questions at most places we stopped. One time an impromptu Fisker Q&A session arose when the Karma drew a small assembly of joggers, walkers, as well as a couple of single-speed bicyclists who we watched exclaim among themselves, stop and come back. On another occasion a young woman in an Audi admitted she had followed the Karma as it circled around a parking lot. She said as an auto enthusiast, she couldn’t identify this elusively exotic looking car, so had to stop to find out. She asked questions, showed iPhone photos of two other hopped-up Audi turbos, then shot pictures of the Karma.


Give it enough sunlight, and the world’s largest seamless solar glass roof can net up to 200 free miles (321 km) per year. Its dynamic splayed pattern is said to optimize efficiency and energy is also used to power the interior cooling system.

The Karma looks like it could be packing a big V12 and exudes captivating sensuality. It lets you cavalierly explain enviro-sensibility in a newly qualified meaning of the term, and if you’re open to it, it can smooth the way to meeting new people.

What fun if you’re even remotely sociable – or daunting if you’re shy. Nor can the Karma’s panache be bad for public perceptions, given electrified cars and hybrids have too often been viewed as the province of the self righteous and nerds.

Does the Karma do an 11-second quarter mile or rip to 200 mph? Not hardly, but that does not matter much to many an everyday eyewitness to its curb appeal. That it looks like it could is more than half the game.

The Only Series Hybrid Production Car

 
 

The Karma powertrain makes for a mid-range EV capable of around 25-50 miles with gasoline backup.

The Karma powertrain makes for a mid-range EV capable of around 25-50 miles with gasoline backup.

What actually propels the Karma is the for-now only series hybrid automotive powertrain that lets it function a lot like the extended-range Chevrolet Volt.

Henrik Fisker said he was inspired by a military design and adopted it for his EVer – Electric Vehicle with Extended Range.

The covered GM 2.0-liter Ecotec turbo and other hardware fill out a fairly impressive looking engine bay.

The covered GM 2.0-liter Ecotec turbo and other hardware fill out a fairly impressive looking engine bay.

The 5,300-pound car relies on two equal-power traction motors in back adding up to 403 horsepower and 959 pound-feet of torque. Full power is delivered when the engine is running to augment a liquid thermally managed 20.1-kwh A123 Systems nanophosphate lithium iron phosphate battery pack.

Fisker Karma Shifter PyramidThe engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter GM Ecotec inline-four cylinder rated for 260 crankshaft horsepower. The rear-wheel-drive car uses a single-speed transmission, and the engine never mechanically turns the wheels. Instead it serves as a generator routing power through the electric motors just as a diesel does in a locomotive.

The transmission is engaged via a center-mounted shift selector comprised of red-backlit P,N,R,D buttons organized in a sort of pyramid shape. Two forward drive modes – gas-assisted Sport and all-electric Stealth – are triggered by a left-side paddle behind the steering wheel that can be actuated on the fly. A “ding” sound and change of dash color scheme – white for Stealth and orange for Sport – indicate which mode the car is in. All-electric drive depends of course on the battery having juice remaining.

The battery pack uses roughly 85 percent of its capacity before switching to charge sustaining mode using the generator to maintain the battery – not recharge it – and to power the electric motors.

Fisker Karma Shifter Paddles

Shift paddles toggle between drive modes.

On the right side to match the drive mode paddle is another paddle for Hill Mode that controls one of two levels of amplified regenerative braking. This is useful when decelerating or on a steep descent. It can be used like a downshift for simulated engine braking, and feeds more electrons into the pack than the standard regenerative setting which is otherwise always active.

The heavy car has power-limiting traction control which contributes to its economy but relegates straight-line burnouts to an impossibility. Acceleration in Sport mode is around 5.9 seconds, and top speed is a governed 125 mph. In Stealth mode, naught to 60 is around 7.9 seconds, and top speed is 95 mph.

Interior

 
 

Fisker Karma Interior Front

Inside, the swank styling continues, with elegant and uncluttered details offered for each of the Karma’s three sub-models – EcoStandard, EcoSport and EcoChic. Our test car was the middle version. It utilized leather on seats, dash top and steering wheel that’s tanned using an environmentally sensitive process, swatches of wood reclaimed from Lake Michigan or California storms, brushed metalwork, textiles, and LED lighting. This is essentially a production version close in execution to the original show car.

Fisker Karma TrunkOn the other hand, the EPA declares this 16.4-foot long, 78.1-inch wide e-GT to be a subcompact due to limited interior room. The trunk offers 6.9 cubic feet, and you may wonder why there’s not more usable space in such a large vehicle.

The battery dominates the middle section front to back, making it a four-seater. Really, it’s more of a two-seater, as the beautifully upholstered back seats are better suited for children or small adults.

In the center stack, many controls are handled by a 10.2-inch touch-screen. It’s not as amazing as the 17-incher in the Tesla Model S, nor does it surf the ‘Net. It handles climate, radio, navigation, back-up camera, other functions, and while we’ve heard of others having difficulties, ours never shut off, or malfunctioned.

Fisker Karma Interior Rear

Overall quality for our car was good. Stitching and fit lines were straight and finish was a cut above cars of this class. We’ve heard others report early production models lacking here and there, so if you get one, look extra closely before accepting from the dealer.

Chassis, Suspension and Brakes

 
 

The Karma’s truck-like mass would have been even heavier had Fisker not designed a very rigid space frame made of 5,000- and 6,000-series aluminum alloys.

Fisker_cutaway

Its backbone is comprised of s super-structural tunnel running down the centerline. In addition to housing the battery it acts like a torque tube tying front to rear. Holding it all together is 259 feet (79 meters) of precision CMT MIG welds and 1,058 self-piercing rivets.

Fisker says it has industry leading strength with more than 33,000 Newton-meters per degree (Nm/deg) of static torsional rigidity – measuring, for example, the amount the frame resists twisting forces when entering a ramp at an angle.

Static bending rigidity is said to measure more than 23,000 N/mm and this, for example, could be the amount the frame resists flexing forces as the car enters a ramp straight on.

Fisker Karma Battery TunnelAlso “world class” is dynamic stiffness – the frame’s resistance to resonant vibrations like those felt when driving over sharp bumps or a rough road.

The result is a chassis that “provides the utmost in occupant safety and exceeds global crash protection standards.” Regarding U.S. standards, the Karma has been crash tested to comply with DOT/NHTSA/FMVSS standards and “meets or exceeds all.” To explain why the car was not independently rated by the EPA with a star rating, Fisker says that the Karma “is outside the price window.” This is not uncommon for $100,000-plus cars and the EPA does not actually crash test cars it rates. This job falls to NHTSA and the Insurance Institute if Highway Safety. Each year they pick cars to test, and their budget often precludes destroying supercars and the like just to rate them.

But for your money, the innovation continues. Frontal impact protection is primarily absorbed by a multi-cell tempered aluminum crush box. If needed, it can be easily replaced, says the company. In the doors are “Dual Phase 600-Series steel-reinforced components” and robust B- pillars add to “substantial” side impact protection.

The center-mounted battery should be of little concern either, says Fisker, being furthest from impact zones.

Controlling the chassis is a suspension designed with input from engineers who helped dial in Ford’s GT supercar. The 124.4-inch wheelbase car utilizes control arms and coil springs front and rear for the. Weight distribution is 47-percent front, 53-percent-rear.

Brembo Brakes in Fisker Karma

Front brakes use six-piston caliper Brembo monobloc calipers clamping 14.6-inch by 1.3-inch ventilated front rotors and out back are matching four-piston Brembos pinching 14.4-inch x 1.1-inch ventilated rotors. This arrangement has been known to haul the car to an ABS-chirping stop in just 110 feet from 60 mph thanks also to its sticky GoodyearEagle F1 Supercar tires – 255/35WR-22 front; 285/35WR-22 rear.

Road Manners

 
 

With the wireless key communicating from placement somewhere inside the car, the displays light when the EVer start button is pressed. At speeds below 25 mph concealed front and rear external speakers emanate a space-shippy sound meant to alert the unwary and unseeing.

Fisker Karma Action

Turning is predictable through its electro-hydraulically assisted steering, and its bulk is well concealed with nearly flat cornering pivoting around the 600-pound battery, centralized and low. Its weight and well-sorted suspension help soak bumps large and small with controlled damping.

While no track racer, tests have shown the Karma’s lateral acceleration averages 0.92g, and it offers a traction-controlled invitation to push the curves. This is one car that eschews low rolling resistance tires for the incremental economy gains they promise in exchange for purpose-made sport rubber. These soft sticky tires never squeal, even when applying a heavy foot in slower, sharper turns that can kick the tail out in mild power oversteer. Dive it in off the accelerator, or merely neutral, and at the limit you will more likely experience understeer.

Fisker_equestrian1

Acceleration is better in Sport, but not earth-shatteringly so. Stealth mode is more rewarding if you prize the near-silent EV effect, but use it hard and you’ll have the gas back on soon enough when electric range is prematurely exhausted. Some have said the gas engine’s noise is anything but music, but it’s muted pretty well, and not obnoxious to our ears.

Reaching highway speed is no problem and passing power is plentiful, but this is not a car that would run with an 85-kwh Tesla S to 100 mph. It has more than enough usable energy, but remember, this is a “responsible” luxury sports sedan.

With battery capacity less than one-quarter the kilowatts supplying the biggest Tesla EV, and intended to be ostensibly green, the Karma’s hooligan potential is dialed back. With 959 pound feet of torque – nearly 50-percent more than a Dodge Cummins diesel and nearly 60-percent more than a 568 pound-foot Porsche Panamera Turbo – even with only one tall final drive gear, the Karma could be much more of a pavement ripper, but is setup to be only fun enough.

A Wise Purchase?

 
 

Beauty is a subjective thing. Emotion-laced motivation can transcend Spartan objectivity. This is proven daily by people who pay for premium jewelry, clothing, houses, art – and luxury cars. If you want to treat yourself to a green luxury car, Fisker has one that could work.

If you are accustomed to high-end, perhaps have a few other cars already, want a frugal vehicle with no range anxiety that emits little or nothing, and prefer something fancier than a Chevy Volt, a Karma could be the ticket.

Fisker_Lincoln_logs1

If driven sedately, and your commute is, say, under 35 suburban miles, you may only need to stop at a gas station every few months. If you have charging where you parking, or en route, all the better.

The Karma is eligible for $7,500 in federal subsidies and state incentives may be available. You will probably want a 240-volt level two charger at home, as house current can take over 10 hours through its 3.3-kw onboard charger.

Potential competitors could be a 60-kwh or 85-kwh Tesla Model S, pending extended-range Cadillac ELR, and pending all-electric Infiniti LE. None of these will be exactly like the Karma which presents its own unique value proposition.

Fisker’s Karma is well-designed, one of the best looking cars on the road, and its existence is remarkable considering obstacles that have had to be overcome. We hope the company makes it past current financial concerns, because if the Karma is any indicator, Fisker undoubtedly has much more yet to contribute.

Fisker Karma Front

MSRP: Fisker Karma EcoSport: $111,000 (incl. $1,000 destination and handling). Price as tested: $111,000; Exterior color: Eclipse (black with subtle navy blue metal flake), Interior: Black Sand Moonstone. U.S./Canadian parts content: 50 percent.

Safety: Eight airbags; ABS w/panic brake assist; Electronic Stability Control; lower anchors and tethers for children (LATCH); automatic battery disconnect; signature Fisker Hybrid HZ external sound.

Comfort and convenience: Premium leather and suede from 100-percent sustainable facility; Fisker Command Center 10.2-inch multifunction haptic touch screen; voice activated hands-free navigation w/ rear camera; premium audio with 295 watts, 8 speakers and subwoofer; AM/FM/MP3/USB and AUX Inputs; Sirius Radio ready; Bkluetooth handsfree phone connectivity; Streering wheel mounted audio and phone controls; Bi-Xenon headlamps w/ LED interior lighting; 6-way power adjustable seats with lumbar adj. and memory; dual zone climate control a/c with heated F/R seats; auto-dim rearview mirror w/ Homelink.

This entry was posted on Friday, December 21st, 2012 at 5:55 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 48


  1. 1
    Islander

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (6:33 am)

    Wow. That is a beautiful car! … That I can not afford.


  2. 2
    Eco_Turbo

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (7:02 am)

    Too bad Fiskar didn’t make a deal to buy some Saab balance shafted 2.3 liter four turbos. You’d have trouble telling the gas engine from the electric motor.


  3. 3
    Mark

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (7:24 am)

    Here’s a test ride we did in the fall:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QFIW7S_aw8&feature=share&list=UUfrqZM2bPb7JzxXsB5HnXRA

    Somehow at 6’5″ I was able to squeeze into the back seat.

    It is an impressive car. It definitely turned a lot of heads on the campus of UMD. I think it turns more heads than the Model S.


  4. 4
    Loboc

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (7:44 am)

    I saw one of these on the road to work one day. It’s a very impressive-looking ride and much larger than you would think from the pictures and interior room.

    I guess the styling is a love-hate thing. I like the swoopy lines, but, the little diamond-shaped openings below the bumpers are kind of silly looking. When looking at the car from a higher perspective than most camera takes, you don’t really notice them.

    Pretty gutsy move to start a car company. I hope they survive in some form even as a subsidiary of a larger company.


  5. 5
    MrEnergyCzar

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (8:01 am)

    Comprehensive review Jeff. Haven’t seen one in the wild yet and I hope Fisker can make it but my instincts are that Tesla will and they won’t unfortunately…

    MrEnergyCzar


  6. 6
    GSP

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (8:04 am)

    Jeff – Thanks for the detailed report and beautiful photos. Lots of good info in the videos as well.

    I am not a Karma fan, but it sure does look good.

    GSP


  7. 7
    Roy_H

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (8:13 am)

    Very nice article. I am glad to read that the quality issues have been resolved. Quality was the main issue that plagued Fisker, and I believe this was a direct result of the rush to market. Many have criticized Tesla for not meeting their optimistic production goals, but they did the right thing, to delay marketing until quality issues were resolved.


  8. 8
    James McQuaid

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (8:21 am)

    The aerodynamic design is somewhat reminiscent of the 1st generation (1995 through 1999) Oldsmobile Aurora. I am looking forward to a review comparing the Fisker Karma, Tesla S, and Cadillac ELR.


  9. 9
    Dave G

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (8:30 am)

    I keep hoping for something that competes with the Volt. By competition, I mean:
    • A gas/electric plug-in
    • with at least 35 EPA miles all-electric range
    • with a base price around $30K after dealer discounts and tax credits
    • from a major car maker, with dealers across the U.S.

    I’ve been saying this since 2007, when the Volt was announced, and still no direct competition.

    Competition validates the market. If the Volt had direct competition, more Volts would be sold, not less. You wouldn’t have to explain what an EREV is, or how plugging in is more convenient than trips to the gas station, or that once you drive electric, you’ll never want to go back. People would finally start to get it, and EREV sales would ramp sharply.

    Without competition, we see what can happen. Political pundits can make false accusations, and people believe them. False safety issues are raised, and people believe it. Without competition, you have a niche product, by definition.


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    Mark Brooks

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (8:45 am)

    A great review, not just of the car but of the challenging road it has followed to get here. wonder how this stacks up to the new Cadi… same ICE engine?


  11. 11
    Mark Z

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (8:55 am)

    Great review Jeff! I couldn’t help think how you will enjoy the advantages of the Tesla Motors Model S when comparing the two vehicles. However, after driving Model S for over 1000 miles, I can say that it hasn’t stopped traffic or caused any interruptions to my schedule. It looks so normal compared with the Karma that some owners may be disappointed that Model S doesn’t turn as many heads. For me, your review and the videos nailed it. For practicality, performance and luxury in an all electric vehicle, the 85 kWh Performance Model S is an excellent choice and is the most futuristic with it’s displays, controls and skateboard chassis.


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    joe

     

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (8:56 am)

    I don’t know if the pictorial diagram showed a complete frame, but if that’s it, it does not look like a safe car for a side impact.


  13. 13
    George S. Bower

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (8:56 am)

    Jeff,
    Great video nice to finally meet and See the man behind all the good articles you have published here.


  14. 14
    Jeff Cobb

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (10:34 am)

    MrEnergyCzar:
    Comprehensive review Jeff.Haven’t seen one in the wild yet and I hope Fisker can make it but my instincts are that Tesla will and they won’t unfortunately…

    MrEnergyCzar

    It’s possible but my instincts tell me to hold off making predictions. Absolutely it is possible and may happen. That they keep attracting VC money is telling. They give up a fair bit in the popularity contest next to Tesla. I do not make decisions based on mere emotional feelings in the public domain.

    I do concede there were some quality issues that were a concern. And the EPA numbers came in lower than they had predicted. Those are probably the biggest concern for the product itself. And then you have a limited market, not enough cash on hand.

    Politically, this car has been linked to Obama just like the Volt has. The negative reporting in itself stands to threaten this company in almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s just like the stock market. If a sufficient herd thinks X is true, it affects the reality. Prices go up and down based on sentiment. Similarly, Fisker’s enemies – like the Volt’s enemies – have thrown much obfuscation and slanted reports that flavor the general impression of this company’s viability and prospects.

    Not told are a lot of fundamentals about this company. Fisker plays as close a hand as possible. Tony Posawatz was off in Europe most recently looking for more money. Maybe he found some? This car is made in Europe by a factory that has produced Saabs, Opels, Porsches, Mercedes, and others. No negative connotations to be perceived by Europeans for misleading TV news reports to lambaste there.

    Bottom line: I have not enough evidence to support a conclusion. Anything could happen. I’m not calling it.

    GSP:
    Jeff – Thanks for the detailed report and beautiful photos. Lots of good info in the videos as well.

    I am not a Karma fan, but it sure does look good.

    GSP

    Thanks. Yes it looks good. I almost got used to it pretty quick though. It became a car you just hop in and drive. I suspect if they ever proliferated in sufficient numbers the public would be less bowled over in time. It would still be exotic. It still has some timeless elements to it that are always nice to look at. It would be less rare though, and like anything else, the wow factor would diminish for some.


  15. 15
    Jeff Cobb

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (10:44 am)

    Roy_H:
    Very nice article. I am glad to read that the quality issues have been resolved. Quality was the main issue that plagued Fisker, and I believe this was a direct result of the rush to market. Many have criticized Tesla for not meeting their optimistic production goals, but they did the right thing, to delay marketing until quality issues were resolved.

    I believe the quality issues were fixed on this press car. Also I suspect Valmet quickly heard feedback but do not know that for a fact and intend to ask Fisker next month. I still say in the article to check it closely before accepting delivery if one was to purchase a Karma.

    Mark Z:
    Great review Jeff! I couldn’t help think how you will enjoy the advantages of the Tesla Motors Model S when comparing the two vehicles. However, after driving Model S for over 1000 miles, I can say that it hasn’t stopped traffic or caused any interruptions to my schedule. It looks so normal compared with the Karma that some owners may be disappointed that Model S doesn’t turn as many heads. For me, your review and the videos nailed it. For practicality, performance and luxury in an all electric vehicle, the 85 kWh Performance Model S is an excellent choice and is the most futuristic with it’s displays, controls and skateboard chassis.

    Thanks Mark. Tesla has an awesome car. I hope those Panasonic cells prove acceptably robust in 3-5 years, even 7-10 year’s time. Model S looks like a better car in functionality and performance, but I’ve not driven one.

    The Karma basically does what a Volt does in some respects (all gas is not nearly as good). It does it while trying to get closer to higher performance and comes in a package that gives next to nothing up in the looks department.

    It’s a tradeoff. Not everyone’s cup of tea, and priced high. I hope with Tony Posawatz’s input the Atlantic is a success made in Delaware. I have reason to believe they will produce it but await confirmation on that.


  16. 16
    Jeff Cobb

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (10:46 am)

    George S. Bower:
    Jeff,
    Great video nice to finally meet and See the man behind all the good articles you have published here.

    Hi George. Nice to “meet” you too.

    You’ve posted some good stuff here as well. Way more technical and useful for those who want to know much more than average about the workings of the Voltec powertrain.


  17. 17
    Paul Stoller

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (11:24 am)

    For the money I would rather buy a Volt and a Model S. The Karma is too heavy, and too inefficient. Plus I really don’t care for the look of the front clip.


  18. 18
    volt11

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (11:38 am)

    Thanks for the great review, Jeff. It’s a beautiful car, although ones I’ve seen in person do lack a bit in terms of panel fit, and the panel gaps are not very narrow.

    I hope Fisker makes it, too. A lot depends on how well the much less expensive Atlantic turns out.


  19. 19
    Brent

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (11:55 am)

    Thanks for the great article Jeff.

    I drive a Fisker Karma, and my experiences mirror yours. I think you are correct that early deliveries especially had some quality issues – there were fit-and-finish and panel-gap issues on some cars, and the car’s command software had some bugs and quirks. Happily all of these things seem to be resolved on current cars. For existing cars many of the fit issues were correctable and all of the existing cars have been updated to the latest software.

    Growing pains aside, the Karma is an amazing car. It’s easily my favorite of any car I’ve ever owned. It performs great, looks amazing, and turns heads like nothing I’ve experienced. While it’s pretty much impossible to estimate EV economy since there are so many variables, I can say that over the 9 months and 5000 miles I’ve owned the car my lifetime MPG is north of 150mpg. I last put in fuel in November. Prior to that was April and over that six-month stretch my real-world fuel economy was over 260mpg. The lifetime number includes a 1000 mile road trip which burned a good amount of fuel. The road trip would have been impossible to do in the Tesla, which is one of the great aspects of the Karma’s EVer design. (That’s not a dig on Tesla, I think they’re amazing and would love to own one someday.)

    Like you, I’m optimistic and hopeful that Fisker navigates the current business climate successfully. They have a great product, and if the customer experience is any indication they are a great company. I truly hope they’re successful.


  20. 20
    DonC

     

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (1:31 pm)

    Having seen the Karma there is no doubt that it’s a head-turner. No contest with the Model S which is a nice car but not really that special. The Karma is in Ferrari territory. If I were spending $100+K on a car, which I wouldn’t do, I’d go for the Karma. Much higher “look-at-me” quotient than just about any other vehicle and for collection purposes there probably won’t be many of these babies made.

    Of course one problem when designing a car from the outside in, which this car was, is that the driving experience is not going to be great. Let’s face it, this thing is a pig at over 5000 pounds, and all that weight will affect everything about the driving dynamics. Plus the interior is somewhat cramped.

    But you’re not spending all that money for a nice ride! LOL


  21. 21
    Jeff Cobb

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (1:39 pm)

    DonC: The Karma is in Ferrari territory. If I were spending $100+K on a car, which I wouldn’t do, I’d go for the Karma. Much higher “look-at-me” quotient than just about any other vehicle and for collection purposes there probably won’t be many of these babies made.

    This shot would have been better in daytime. Thanksgiving Day evening, outside Algar Ferrari, Bryn Mawr, Pa.


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    Noel Park

     

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (1:56 pm)

    DonC: Let’s face it, this thing is a pig at over 5000 pounds, and all that weight will affect everything about the driving dynamics.

    #20

    True that. +1


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    Noel Park

     

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (1:57 pm)

    But what about the $64K question? What’s up with them and A123?


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    DonC

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (1:57 pm)

    Jeff Cobb: This shot would have been better in daytime. Thanksgiving Day evening, outside Algar Ferrari, Bryn Mawr, Pa.

    Nice shot!

    BTW for some reason I can’t access your video review. I get an error message that the video has been moved. (Tried a couple of different browsers with the same result).


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    Jeff Cobb

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (2:09 pm)

    DonC: Nice shot!

    BTW for some reason I can’t access your video review. I get an error message that the video has been moved. (Tried a couple of different browsers with the same result).

    Thanks! Video is back. We moved to a different YouTube channel. This was my first car review video, and I was getting close to freezing. Only wore a thin shirt and it was flurrying at times that day.

    Presently I’m driving this car you may have heard of. It’s by Toyota and is called the Prius. :)

    Gotta come up with some kind of drive review. What can I say about it that has not been said a thousand times before?


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    DonC

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (2:26 pm)

    That was a great review Jeff. Much more informative than most. And yes, you do look VERY cold!

    Good luck on the Prius review. As you say, not much left to say.


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    Kevin from Canada

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (2:27 pm)

    If my lotto ticket comes through, I think the wife gets a slightly used 600 mpg. Volt!


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    Dec 21st, 2012 (3:55 pm)

    Jeff Cobb: Presently I’m driving this car you may have heard of. It’s by Toyota and is called the Prius.

    Doh! You have to follow up the Fisker with the Prius….. talk about a shock to the system.


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    kdawg

     

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (3:58 pm)

    Fisker Karma – top speed 125, 0-60mph = 5.9 seconds

    Telsa Model S (standard, 60kWh) – top speed 125, 0-60mph = 5.9 seconds

    What a coincidence. Somebody needs to race these two on a drag strip.


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    Dec 21st, 2012 (5:28 pm)

    Loboc: the little diamond-shaped openings below the bumpers are kind of silly looking.

    #4

    Tactfully put IMHO. +1

    I have seen 1 or 2 of these in SoCal and I was struck by how “silly” this design feature looked. What WERE they thinking?


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    Noel Park

     

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (5:34 pm)

    Jeff Cobb: Presently I’m driving this car you may have heard of. It’s by Toyota and is called the Prius.

    #25

    A plug-in perchance? One can only hope.

    Which reminds me that the under-the-bridge dwellers have been blessedly absent here of late. Although there do seem to be more posts deleted from the forum, so maybe they just migrated there.

    Which leads me to a modest suggestion. When I click on one of those posts that seem to have been deleted, I get a message to the effect that “You are not authorized to access this page” or some such, which I find to be uninformative and a bit off putting. In this age of electronic wizardry, how hard would it be to replace that with something along the lines of “This post has been deleted as inappropriate by the moderators/administrator”


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    Noel Park

     

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (5:36 pm)

    kdawg: Somebody needs to race these two on a drag strip.

    #29

    How about a few laps around Laguna Seca? I volunteer to drive!!!


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    kdawg

     

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (6:58 pm)

    Loboc: I guess the styling is a love-hate thing. I like the swoopy lines, but, the little diamond-shaped openings below the bumpers are kind of silly looking.

    Noel Park: Tactfully put IMHO. +1
    I have seen 1 or 2 of these in SoCal and I was struck by how “silly” this design feature looked. What WERE they thinking?

    I think they are kinda neat. Aren’t the DRL’s in there? The Fisker Surf has something similar.


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    George S. Bower

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (7:18 pm)

    Noel Park: #29

    How about a few laps around Laguna Seca?I volunteer to drive!!!

    Which Car?


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    Eco_Turbo

     

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (7:21 pm)

    Jeff Cobb,

    Mention how often the gas engine comes on.


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    Noel Park

     

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (8:09 pm)

    #34

    Well both, of course. See which one can do the quickest lap. I guess that in the context of EVs it’s about as irrelevant as the 0-60 and 1/4 mile times, but it sure sounds like fun to me. As a road racer I always maintain the the relative lap times tell you a lot more about the cars’ capabilities than just the acceleration times. Although cooler heads might claim that the AER and/or the gas mileage are more important for this kind of car.

    +1 for asking. I’m complimented.


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    Noel Park

     

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    Dec 21st, 2012 (8:14 pm)

    kdawg: I think they are kinda neat. Aren’t the DRL’s in there? The Fisker Surf has something similar.

    #33

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. After I rode around in one and realized how creative the use of the interior space was I became a bit of a fan of the Aztek, LMAO.

    You could make a good case that our 50s Corvettes are a bit kitschy in some of their styling cues, but we love ‘em just the same.


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    Dave G

     

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    Dec 22nd, 2012 (7:40 am)

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    Noel Park

     

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    Dec 22nd, 2012 (2:32 pm)

    Dave G:
    In case you haven’t seen them side-by-side:

    Full article here:
    http://www.caranddriver.com/photos-12q3/475307/2012-chevrolet-volt-and-2012-fisker-karma-ecosport-photo-475310

    #38

    Well it’s not going to motivate me to trade in my Volt any time soon, LOL. The low level shots from the front are very revealing IMHO. I would just add to my comment at #30 that the grilles look just as silly as the little diamond shaped openings below. No wonder Mr. Fisker isn’t styling BMWs any more. Plus it’s really BIG. No wonder it weighs 5000#.


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    kdawg

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    Dec 22nd, 2012 (2:43 pm)

    Dave G:
    In case you haven’t seen them side-by-side:

    Full article here:
    http://www.caranddriver.com/photos-12q3/475307/2012-chevrolet-volt-and-2012-fisker-karma-ecosport-photo-475310

    It would be fun to race a Karma & a Volt across country. The Volt’s longer range would help, but the Fisker is 25% faster. (assuming this is a Cannonball run, where the racers can out-run the cops)


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    pjkPA

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    Dec 22nd, 2012 (5:10 pm)

    Well….
    After holding out this long for the CUV Voltec version… I caved…
    I just took delivery of my 2013 Chevy Volt…

    It’s cold and snowy here in PA today… I put 15 miles on it giving rides … used .1 gal gas. The engine came on for a few seconds when it sat and got too cold… I was told by the dealer that it does that to warm up the battery. The dealer forgot to charge it over night so it only had 15 miles of charge when I left the Rohrich Chevrolet dealership. I had a very pleasant buying experience. The only thing untidy was that I was not allowed to use both of my GM cards money after I was told by the GM card people that I could.
    Overall a very pleasant purchasing experience.

    I will give reports of how my Volt is doing here in cold snowy hilly PA.


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    kdawg

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    Dec 22nd, 2012 (6:27 pm)

    pjkPA:
    Well….After holding out this long for the CUV Voltec version… I caved…I just took delivery of my 2013 Chevy Volt…

    It’s cold and snowy here in PA today… I put 15 miles on it giving rides … used .1 gal gas.The engine came on for a few seconds when it sat and got too cold… I was told by the dealer that it does that to warm up the battery.The dealer forgot to charge it over night so it only had 15 miles of charge when I left the Rohrich Chevrolet dealership. I had a very pleasant buying experience. The only thing untidy was that I was not allowed to use both of my GM cards money after I was told by the GM card people that I could. Overall a very pleasant purchasing experience.

    I will give reports of how my Volt is doing here in cold snowy hilly PA.

    Welcome to the club! I’m sure you know this, but don’t worry about the shorter cold temp ranges, and also set your temp to LOW (15 degrees) to prevent the engine from coming on below 35.

    Buying it at the end of December, you should get your tax credit back quick.


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    Pat

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    Dec 23rd, 2012 (8:06 am)

    Post #14 & others say it is -ve reporting ..that is saying mild in comparison to the lies reported by Fox are pure propaganda driven for their base.. No other news channel reported such blatant lies. Q is why we call it anything else? Fox and their other outlets like Rush, Beck etc report lies, bs and propaganda all the times. Why as a society it is not reported as such by others ..I can accept the fact that their base is low IQ and fall for it but others who know what it is but choose not to call what it is but mildly rebuke it.

    I also realise that inspite of continuous lies, bs and propaganda ..Fox will continue and dont give a damn as they know it too at higher levels that what it is but protected by the Gop and thus immune to anything. I suppose freedom has no limits to report lies, bs, propaganda and it is acceptable.


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    Dave K.

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    Dec 23rd, 2012 (6:42 pm)

    Saw the Karma at the LA Auto Show two years ago. Very impressive timeless styling. It’s funny hearing people talk 0-60 times. When the first fuel efficient cars arrived in America over 40 years ago. Many were laughed off as being under powered. The new wave of efficient vehicles rival 0-60 times of the best 60′s era muscle cars. For those wanting to stand out from the crowd. The Karma is the perfect addition to the stable.

    My 2011 Chevy Volt continues to average 400 MPG. Very smooth and trouble free. As times goes on I am reminded of the truly outstanding job by GM Engineering. The pressure this team was under to get this car out. Knowing it had to be near perfect to score well in magazine evaluations. Knowing any glitch or issue would be amplified by Big Oil concerns through an out-for-blood media. Having the ability to get it right the first time.

    Have a Merry Christmas all. Health into 2013 and beyond.


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    Dec 23rd, 2012 (11:44 pm)

    What’s with the section title “The Only Series Hybrid Production Car”?? Like the Volt isn’t a series hybrid production car? I know Fisker has spouted that line before, but I can’t believe you’d publish it and attempt to validate it. Yah, I know the Volt can operate in a parallel mode in rare cases (ie. operates in series mode a vast majority of the time). It’s just misleading to claim the the Karma is somehow unique because they chose the less efficient design. So, you end up with a more expensive vehicle with a cheaper, less efficient design and we’re supposed to think that makes it better? It’s pure marketing and I expect better from this site!


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    Jeff Cobb

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    Dec 24th, 2012 (12:27 am)

    Montgoss –

    1) Your tone was insinuating and laced with euphemisms/abbreviations for off-color speech. We’ve edited your post while leaving your basic statements intact. You expect better from this site? We expect better from our readers. That includes being civil and not flaming.

    2) I am not following Fisker’s marketers. I am basing the statement about the Karma being the only pure series hybrid on the words of GM’s own chief Volt engineer, Pam Fletcher, whom I have spoken with. When asked explicitly “Is the Volt a series hybrid,” Pam Fletcher replied an unequivocal “No” to me in a phone interview Aug. 4, 2011. When I rephrased the inquiry, she was insistent the Volt is not classified by GM as a series hybrid.

    You are correct it acts in series much of the time but it is not a pure series hybrid and GM did not call it one in an official interview.

    She was the chief engineer behind the Volt’s propulsion system and this was her statement for the record. GM has not corrected Fisker for its statements. It calls the Volt an extended-range EV.


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    Kevin George

     

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    Dec 29th, 2012 (3:07 am)

    Brent,
    Regarding the comment from Brent #19
    Thank U very much for this entry giving real feedback from an owner/driver point of view …can U please point me in the right direction for making a good purchase…?
    1. What indicates when a particular Karma was manufactured . It appears that is an important element in avoiding a lemon model … Is there a date or model # to use as a guide .
    2. I’m looking to purchase a Karmasport in So California area… What matters should i be aware of in making the puchase from a Private or Dealership? I.e. warranty ,
    Do they hold a price or is it negotiable to a point .
    What isna responsible publication to use as a price guide like KBB .
    3. Any other hints would be greatly appreciated…


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    Brent

     

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    Dec 29th, 2012 (10:40 am)

    Kevin George,

    Kevin,

    The Karma wasn’t built in strict VIN sequence, but close enough – I would suggest any car with a VIN that ends in 1000 or higher would be late enough. If you can inspect the car more closely there is a label on the inside of the driver’s door with the manufacturing month and year. Anything after January or February 2012 should be fine. Contrasting that, mine was built in December 2011 and I had no panel gap or build issues. YMMV

    As far as I know, the Karma warranty, roadside assistance and scheduled maintenance transfer with the car, so a gently used 2012 model will still have the remainder of its 60 month, 60,000 mile warranty. I don’t see any reason not to consider a third party vehicle.

    There aren’t many on the secondary market, but if you look around especially on eBay you can get some comparable prices. I’ve heard some dealers have Fisker incentives to sell 2012 Karmas so you may be able to find a decent discount from sticker for a used or demo car.

    My best hint is this: Spend some time in the forums at http://www.fiskerbuzz.com. There is a wealth of information about the car and discussions from owners and enthusiasts. Browse around or use the Search function to locate specific information. There are several threads from people like yourself considering a Karma and asking questions. Read through them, or start your own! I post under the screen name “LonePalmBJ”

    Brent