Fisker Automotive co-founder Henrik Fisker describes the Karma as a "sedan with a coupe-like appearance." Design highlights include a long hood, short deck, low roofline, wide stance, and pronounced fenders. (Source: Fisker Automotive)
Cap'n, Fisker makes a good point. The plug-in hybrid is as convenient as a regular gasoline powered car. Actually, with the ability to charge at home and energy recvovery technologies, it would be more convenient since you would not need to go to the gas station so often. Having a high end vehicle of this type is a good thing, I guess, but not that important in the long run. In the auto industry you make money on volume.
Once the price of plug-in hybrids comes down sufficiently this may become a standard. There is a problem, though, and that is the investment cost. I recently talked to someone who was looking at an American made hybrid. He settled for a smaller car from the same manufacturer. He was looking for a commuter car, and the smaller car got very good mileage without the up front costs. The hybrid in question was not very much more expensive and the pay back period was reasonable. The point is, it still may not be worth it.
Excellent points, naperlou. For plug-in hybrids to reach the masses, the cost of batteries must come down, or they must use smaller batteries. Fisker's situation is a little different, though. The company is targeting upscale buyers who love cars and aren't as concerned about hitting a low price point. They're willing to spend more for a stylish car, and Fiskers are very stylish.
The key word is the "Range Extender". Combined with a proper low fuel consuming engine could be the future car on the road. I can imagine than the people will drive electric in the city and electric or conventional outside. By the way "Range extender" is an excelent term to look for in web.
Yes, it is a good point and seems to be what many agree on in the industry. But let's not forget it serves Fisker's purpose because his company is focusing on hybrids. They may make sense definitely, and seem to be at this point more practical But I don't think auto makers and engineers should give up on coming up with a better battery for pure battery-powered vehicles. There is a lot of promising work going on in this space.
I just went through a similar exercise. However I basically bought the gas version of the hybrid.
The ICE only car is EPA rated for 42MPG highway and from what I was able to see from a number of owners was that this was conservative. Now that I have the car I find that high 30's is not unreasonable even for my short trip city driving.
My normal routien is actually even more stringent that the EPA city driving cycle. However with mild Hypermiling techniques I can push 40MPG. While a Prius might get well over 50MPG doing this, even 38MPG is so close it seems far less practical
One thing that struck me was that it's somewhat difficult to drive the car in a manner that will get this sort of economy. The car does have a real time MPG indicator that is helpful but it could be a lot better. What strikes me is that I think the performance of the new crop of "40MPG" ICE cars could be much better if drivers were provided better tools. I suppose a lead foot remover would top the list.
I suppose that this is a bit of a problem since the companies don't get any credit for it from the EPA. However the potential savings seem obvious. Basically we need to get the driver in the loop.
This same car easily exceeds it's 42MPG highway rating.
It strikes me that the Hybrid has driven the mfg to find new efficiencies in the ICE part of the system. These new efficiencies are now flowing over into the ICE only vehicles.
Fisker makes a great point, that the automotive companies are making a (not-in-demand) model of electric that not many want, just to cheat on the CAFE standards. Typical of the mentality that got the automotive companies in trouble in the first place, fighting regulations (with countless millions of wasted dollars) instead of using them to their advantage and just designing cars the way they are supposed to. Obviously, the majority of the American public wants to be economical, that is why these standards are being pushed. Instead of bowing to the will of the people, the auto companies are copping out of a challenge by throwing money at something just to cheat or beat the system, the American public, and mankind itself by sticking to archaic technology and refusing to progress into the next millenium. These lame tactics by the automotive companies breed contempt and keep us 'tied' to the pump, with the oil industry deciding when how our budgets get organized. Shame on the media for repeating the pro-oil propaganda of lumping all electrics and hybrids into the same category. It's time we opened our eyes to the future, and it is not ICE driven, unless we are using H2 for the power source.
Excellent observations of driving habits. I am shopping for a vehicle with top MPG. It seems that ICE only cars can get great MPG (driven correctly). However, the hybrid still gets better (when driven correctly).
I think many purchase the hybrid for the sticker MPG but in practice drive with no intention of optimizing MPG.
The pure electric still suffers from range anxiety. Until that is solved, it will remain a small percentage of car sales.
I think the auto manufacturers are optimizing ICE and batteries because they have to, but they will eventually have to address letting the car control driving habits. Perhaps even automated driving (or at least control the acceleration/deceleration functions, and not the old Toyota way;-)
I don't know that it's the number of choices as much as all the FUD and misinformation.
For example, just how does one score a Hybrid like the Prius as a battery powered car? (Non plug-in obviously) The last time I looked, 100% of the power was generated by an Internal Combustion Engine!
This is a fantastic step that improves the efficiency of the ICE. In one swoop it eliminates the waste of idling and acceleration. However it has practically nothing to do with making a viable plug in battery vehicle.
I think the last paragraph of this article is the most telling where Mr. Fisker exclaims that it is easier to start a restaurant franchise than to overcome the regulation barriers of creating a 'clean' energy vehicle. I would like to respectfully challenge the critics who complain that there are not enough clean energy vehicles out there to have an honest discussion about the agency and economic barriers that a start-up car companiy faces.
@Captain, there is no doubt that Hybrid vehicles always have an edge over single fueled vehicles. Even in my car along with gasoline, I had fitted gas converter too, so that depends up on situation, I can switch between this too. if such options are available in electrical vehicles too, it's a great advantage.
It's a roomy sedan, I saw one up close and it has a legit back seat. I think you have to put this in perspective. The 7 series BMW that this is competing with gets 17 mpg combined. You cannot have luxury without weight, and it takes more power and more gas to move that extra weight. This car answers that dilemma in an incredibly elegant way. If I had 125k to drop on automobile I would definitely buy one of these. But alas, engineers are a bunch of ninnies and never step up to ask for the money they deserve so I won't be able to afford one any time soon.
I think you have to put the term "eco-friendly" in perspective. How much does a Prius cost, to own or to manufacture? If a millionaire turns up in a Prius, the statement is not "I'm saving gas", it's "I'm saving resources".
True. But this car could serve a market that exists and do so in a more fuel efficient manner. It would be interesting to see what the carbon footprint of manufacture vs ownership for all cars is. I wonder if the gas cars would have less of an impact because of the lack of batteries and solar cells.
Remember that a (non-plugin) hybrid still uses fossil fuels or biofuel as it sole power source. The increase in efficiency comes primarily from regenerative braking, which recovers energy that would otherwise be lost to friction and stores it as electrical charge. This is at the expense of having an entire secondary electric powertrain and large battery to haul around everywhere, which is a lot of added weight and expense. This is partly why high-efficiency gasoline vehicles are more than competitive with hybrids.
A plug-in hybrid changes this equation; now one can use electricity as the primary or alternate energy source. Commuters who recharge every night may drive electric-only for weeks or months at a time, only using the combustion engine for longer trips. Of course, fossils fuels may be used to generate the electricity somewhere, but the point-source pollution is easier to monitor and control at the power plant, and as long as electricity for the consumer is less expensive than other fuels, the plug-in hybrid may make a lot more sense economically and ecologically.
My wife and I just went shopping for a new car, and drove the Honda Civic hybrid. We liked it, but the mileage ratings were not significantly better than the gasoline version, for a lot more money. The plug-in version is not available until later this year. We wanted to buy a hybrid to "do the right thing", but it made no sense economically.
Hello all. I have a VCR that I'm converting to digital - that will make it so much better! Hybrids are like compact fluorescent lights: we wish we could do LED but we settle for CFL.
I cannot understand the Fisker business model. The car looks nice but it's no performer. The ICE is too small (2.0L, 260 HP, 20 MPG, 0-60 in 6.3 seconds) for the supercar price tag and the battery is too small (20 kWh, 32 miles range) for the average tree hugger. It's also very small inside - subcompact, per EPA rating - yet weighs 5300 lbs. What segment of the market are they targeting? Why wouldn't you go for a Tesla that has much better performance, seats more people and has more range? The Tesla is also not a bad looking car and you can charge it at home or on the road for free.
What "makes sense" depends on what one is trying to do. If you commute a short distance to work, make local shopping trips, and have access to a gas car for the occasional long trip, then even a simple electric with lead batteries "makes sense." If you do long distance trveling all the time, then it does not. It's like asking whether a shovel or a hoe makes more sense.
The real point is that the real target population continues to be ignored. Someone that can afford to spend $100K to $250K on a car, can basically do what they want; price is NO OBJECT. The "average" citizen that is looking for ECONOMY, has to consider both the cost of the vehicle and the cost of fuel......unless the vehicle cost is brought within an affordable range, there willl never be the required mass adoption for commercial success. The hybrid (plug-in or not) is that current best leap in technology. The pure electric is just another example of government trying to force technology on the basis of some leftist political agenda, disguised as compassionate concern for "the planet". It is not ready or practical at this time, like it or not! The ICE is still the best, most practical propulsion system overall.
The car business is a rough one, and takes no prisoners. Mr Fisker was probably packing his bags with that Cayman Islands ticket clenched between his teeth as soon as he ended your interview. Next they will be looking for who he sold the drugs to and later the car will appear in a time travel movie.
Some cars are more reliable than others, but even the vehicles at the bottom of this year’s Consumer Reports reliability survey are vastly better than those of 20 years ago in the key areas of powertrain and hardware, experts said this week.
As it does every year, Consumers Union recently surveyed its members on the reliability of their vehicles. This year, it collected data on approximately 1.1 million cars and trucks, categorizing the members’ likes and dislikes, not only of their vehicles, but of the vehicle sub-systems, as well.
A few weeks ago, Ford Motor Co. quietly announced that it was rolling out a new wrinkle to the powerful safety feature called stability control, adding even more lifesaving potential to a technology that has already been very successful.
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