The Fisker Karma: Not Your Grandma’s Hybrid0

Laurie Stark | Mon Oct 31 2011 |

When you think of hybrid, you probably think of BabyBjörns and Birkenstocks, a sensible sedan in a two-car garage. But what would you say to a hybrid with more horsepower than a Dodge Ram, more curves than a Maserati, and twice the fuel economy of a Prius?

What more than 3,000 people have said so far: “Sign me up.”

In early November, Fisker Automotive will unleash the undeniably sexy Fisker Karma, a luxury sports car outfitted with solar panels and a lithium-ion battery with a 10-year battery life.

Due to a technology called regenerative braking, which transfers reserved energy from braking to recharge on the go, this extended range electric car will take you 50 miles on a single charge—that’s almost four times the length of Manhattan. Heading to the mountains for a weekend getaway? Your road trip has been approved. When the charge runs out on the Fisker Karma, the fuel tank is engaged, cruising another 250 miles at a fuel economy of 100 mpg.

Oh, and it goes from zero to 60 in less than six seconds.

The men behind the wheel

The company’s sustainability angle isn’t all talk. Headquartered in Anaheim, California with locations in Munich, Finland, Beijing, and Delaware, Fisker’s facilities boast recycled flooring, cruelty-free furniture, CFL lights, and solar energy. The car’s luxurious interior has environmental touches as well: classy wood accents on the dash come from the roots of redwood trees that were burned in the California wildfires.

The head honchos of Fisker Automotive both come from illustrious careers at BMW. Henrik Fisker is a celebrated designer, responsible for such icons as the Aston Martin DB9, the BMW Z8 Roadster and— more recently—another much-hyped electric car: the Tesla Model S. That relationship with BMW has come in handy; it was recently announced that BMW would supply the turbo-charged engine and other components for the next generation of Fisker’s cars.

Not your grandma’s hybrid

This curvaceous bod is already popular with the Hollywood set itching to cast off their frumpy hybrid sedans for a sexier upgrade. First in line for a dose of good Karma is late 1990s heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio, but politicians like Al Gore and Colin Powell are on the Fisker bandwagon, too.

With a top speed of 125 mph, the Fisker Karma moves fast in more ways than one. First seen at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, it zoomed from prototype to production in just three years. Recent delays have put on the brakes, postponing the initial launch by nearly two years, but the car is set to hit dealerships (really and truly) this fall.

Ready to sign on the dotted line? Well, start saving your pennies because this baby will set you back somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 grand. But if a six-figure car isn’t in your budget, hold your horsepower—the upcoming Fisker Nina is rumored to be in the ballpark of $40k. It may not be long before stylish, powerful electric cars are an everyday sight.