By on October 19, 2011

The Chevy Volt’s best news in ages broke yesterday when GreenCarReports, er, reported that the Fisker Karma had received EPA approval at 32 miles of EV range, and 20 MPG (combined) thereafter. Moreover, the MPGE (the “e” is for “equivalent”) rating of 52 on electric power is nearly half the Volt’s 94 MPGE rating, suggesting that the Karma is not the most efficient car even in EV mode. And, at nearly 5,600 lbs (per evo.co.uk), you don’t have to look far to find out why. But if you ask Fisker, the problem isn’t the car… the problem is those darn EPA numbers, which you should probably just ignore anyway. After all, nobody drives less efficiently than their car’s EPA numbers, right?

Says CEO Heinrik Fisker

We firmly believe that most owners will get up to 50 miles of driving range on a single charge and will use our electric-only mode most of the time they drive the car

Unless they keep the car in Sport Mode (which boosts acceleration by 25%, taking 0-60 times from 7.9 to 5.9 seconds), thereby making it “sufficiently potent to avoid damnation as a slug” (per C&D’s Google-topping review). Which, given the “about a hundred grand” price tag, seems like a reasonable expectation. But even if the Karma weren’t fast or fun, it might have a chance by making green cars sexy… but this doesn’t seem like much of a “green car.” Nor will it, when you’re showing off ala Ashton Kutcher and your range extending engine roars to life, mid-eco-boast.

And in the meantime, Fisker has been delivering vehicles to at least one celebrity client before EPA confirmation even arrived… which is an interesting strategy. Fisker also raffled off the first UK Karma, despite having not yet passed emissions in Europe (and possibly having a problem with start-up emissions, per autoblog.nl) But again, Fisker is running on hot, green air rather than facts and test results, simply claiming the Karma

is the only luxury sedan in the world that meets future fuel consumption and emission requirements, making it suitable for any international city.

Sorry, but 52 MPGE for 32 miles and 20 MPG thereafter is the ultimate in future-proof technology… especially when the (arguably overpriced itself) Chevy Volt does better at less than half the price. Might the Department of Energy be rethinking its $528.7m loan to Fisker right about now?

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

30 Comments on “Fisker’s Sticker Shock: 32 Miles On Electricity, 20 MPG On Range Extender...”


  • avatar
    mitchw

    I have seen a Karma at an autoshow, and don’t doubt me, it is huuuuge. Next to a Volt, it’s not hard to tell which one is bigfoot and which is you.

    • 0 avatar
      Herm

      Physics is physics, the heavier a car is the lower the efficiency.. but all that matters is that the owner likes what he bought.

      In any case the EPA probably did its test in the sports mode.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    The Department of Energy LOVES their half a billion dollar ‘loan.’ It will vanish into a hole in Finland, where the cars are made with Chinese components, and the US will be just that much more shafted; the goal of every policy of this regime.

    It is a win-win, because if the darned things do sell, the US taxpayer will be further raped by subsidizing every obscenely wealthy vile fabian socialist that buys one. No matter what happens, Obama’s elite villains fill their pockets and our freedom moves a step closer to extinction.

    • 0 avatar
      Doc

      …”because if the darned things do sell, the US taxpayer will be further raped by subsidizing every obscenely wealthy vile fabian socialist that buys one”

      I always laugh when I here Obama complaining about tax “loop-holes” for the rich and corporations. I don’t suppose many poor people will be buying these or Volts for that matter.

      The term “loop-hole” itself is a carefully chosen term which suggests some illegal or certainly unethical things are going on when really these are tax incentives that politicians on both sides of the isle have put into the tax code.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        Because none of these boondoggles went on while the GOP was in the White House??? The wars aren’t just a tax subsidy in a different form for a different part of the economy?

        Face it – doesn’t matter who is in office – the same shenanigans happen.

    • 0 avatar

      They loaned Tesla about the same amount of money, and at least Tesla is creating a pure electric car with a viable-looking range (at least for the top-line model, still cheaper than the Karma). And manufacturing is in the US.

      I wonder what the MPGe of the Tesla Model S is … anyone have an idea? Seems like it should be able to beat this with a significantly smaller and lighter, but still luxurious, car.

      D

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      Yup, Chinese components like the GM LNF turbo 4 engine from Tennessee, the BMW turbo 4 the next model has, the US a123 battery pack, the Turkish chassis parts and the body made in Finland. Chinese through and through, I’d say. The new factory in Delaware to make the next model is actually Chinese too, of course. Goodness knows who makes the twin electric motors, it seems to be a secret.

      Not a particularly adventurous design. Electric motors have sweet spots in their rpm range, so winding the living snot out of them with a one speed transmission is inelegant. I’d like at least 2 speeds for my (non-existent) $100K. Especially as I don’t need wood appliques made from timber recovered from California forest fires, or a leather hand-stitched dash. Frippery to disguise the mechanical shortcomings.

      Oh well, the first shipload of Karmas docked in NJ a week ago. Let’s see how they sell.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        As of May 2010, A123 already had 5 battery factories on line in China and were estimating a 27 month time line to bring one US plant to production. Are you sure the Finnish Fiskers are being built with US produced batteries?

      • 0 avatar
        Herm

        “Electric motors have sweet spots in their rpm range, so winding the living snot out of them with a one speed transmission is inelegant.”

        Its a pretty broad sweet “spot”, but the gearing determines where that spot is centered in the rpm/power plots.

        You may have a point there, probably the one-speed transmissions was optimized for performance not economy.. one way they could work around that is a third motor driving the front wheels thru a differential.. you can optimize that gearing for the 48mph average speeds and slow accelerations used in the EPA testing cycles, plus Fisker could boast of 4 wheel drive in their ads.

        You could also have a switchable second set of windings in the RWD motors to give a sort-of electronic transmission, but that would require larger motors, probably cheaper to go with the FWD proposal if the economy ratings prove too much of an embarrasment.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        One-speed transmissions are also selected because the torque these things generate at 0 rpm can tear apart conventional transmissions.

      • 0 avatar
        Herm

        The transmission issues were the reason for the development of the diesel-electric locomotives in the 1920′s.. even to this day its a hard transmission to build. Today VERY large trucks are still doing serial electric drivetrains for this same reason, as are the crawlers that NASA has used to transport rockets since the 60s.

        I guarantee that the motor controllers in most of these electrics limit the maximum torque, or at least slow down how fast it ramps up.. otherwise you would shear off the motor shaft when you stepped on the gas..

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        So piggyback the throttle controls to shifts on a two speed gearbox so they don’t break stuff. FWD electric motors weigh something too.

        if they want to build cars they’ll get it right eventually. Glad they are building cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      “It is a win-win, because if the darned things do sell, the US taxpayer will be further raped by subsidizing every obscenely wealthy vile fabian socialist that buys one. No matter what happens, Obama’s elite villains fill their pockets and our freedom moves a step closer to extinction.”

      Oh that’s rich, coming from a person living in a town that was backwater before the US government started spending money it collected from people in New York, Massachusetts, etc. Given that the #1 employer in your town is still the United States Navy, I think your freedom is far from extinction.

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    I wonder how many more MPGs it would get if they could blend gas and electric motors like the Volt? GM claims like 10-15% better efficiency in that mode (when the EV portion of the battery is depleted and speeds are >50mph)..

    Also a shame to not have gone with a microturbine or two, especially if you’re already configured for pure serial operation..

    • 0 avatar
      Herm

      Microturbines are way inefficient, stick to conventional ICE gensets and you will do better and cheaper.. perhaps a methanol or diesel fuel cell in future editions, if ya got money to burn?.

      A promising turbine-like genset is the detonation wave disc “engine” being developed at Michigan State University under a DARPA-E program, sort of a cross between a turbo and a diesel engine.. it promises very high 60% efficiency and low cost simplicity. Video here:

      http://green.autoblog.com/2011/04/08/wave-disk-generator-engine-wave-of-future-video/

      • 0 avatar
        CarnotCycle

        Yeah, tiny turbines are victims of volumetric demon of too much heat radiation from them at that size. They don’t get thermodynamically useful until they scale up past ‘micro.’ I can’t remember the company – Capstone I think or something – makes a stand-alone generator with a microturbine with a thermal ‘recuperator’ trying to address that thermodynamic problem, and there’s no way you’d fit it in a car.

        Plus the smaller they get the faster they have to spin, tiny turbines spinning from 0-to-100k RPM back to zero depending on battery charge = dead turbines pretty quick. Look at turbos with no gas generator…now put a gas generator on it. Yeah, kaput.

        I think turbines do have a future in direct-electric hybrids, but it will be for larger applications like a truck or…a near-three ton luxo-bomb like a Fisker.

  • avatar

    And, despite the car’s size, it’s also more cramped inside than the Volt. Think C3 Corvette with rear seats.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    As far as price, acceleration, and fuel efficiency, the Panamera is sounding better and better all the time.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    So for the price of a Karma you could get two Volts and have enough scratch left over for a 2008 G8 GT with moderate miles to beat upon over the weekends.

    Heck, you could buy a fully pimped out A6 and after the ‘guberment handout a Leaf with money left over for gas for that kind of scratch.

    Fisker Karma DoA – and sure makes the Volt look attractive in comparison.

  • avatar

    I’m so shocked…no, not really.

    Meanwhile here’s a far better use of electricity, and it’s remastered so you can hear stuff you couldn’t hear in the original 45:

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    Fisker Karma vs. Telsa Model S

    let the wanton stupid and waste of billions of tax dollars begin

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Can we get a direct comparison between the assorted overpriced electric economy cars on a track somewhere? I’d even open it up to the Leaf and Plug in Prius as well.

  • avatar
    benzaholic

    Will it be billions, or will it be trillions spent developing and refining practical replacements for petroleum fuels?

    It will cost that much, over decades, for electric cars and the necessary supporting infrastructure to approach the ubiquity of ICEs, fuel stations, the fuel distribution networks, the engine repair and maintenance industries, the identification and implementation of an even minimally reasonable and equitable replacement for fuel taxes, etc.

    Somebody will make money during this, and some money will be wasted, lost, absconded with, but if the money isn’t invested until later, it will take that much longer for alternatives to take hold.

    Granted, the working poor are not in a position to overpay for a Volt or a Karma, but I’m sure glad someone is willing to overpay, and that the US government is willing to invest in this kind of critical longer term research, because quarterly profit-driven corporations wouldn’t care enough about it otherwise.

    Should the US government end investments/incentives/”giveaways” for electric vehicles and return CAFE requirements to 15 miles per gallon? How many more countries would our government then feel obligated to take over, er, “encourage to become more democratic,” in the cause of ensuring future national security?

    I like the Jay Leno perspective: Electric cars will allow us to continue to enjoy a weekend toy like a Chevelle SS, an STi, an E-Type, assorted AMG/M/RS/V goodness, etc. Electric cars may mean the eventual death of CamCordAltSonibus as they currently exist, but will you really miss them?

    • 0 avatar

      If electric cars ever have the sorts of range and recharging times that they need to be more than a niche.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        Just depends on your needs.

        If I need something to tow a big boat I buy a truck but it would be impractical for a grocery getter despite my friend’s attempt to use one so.

        Commuting is how I drive most of my miles.

        My current daily driver returns home each day and sits there for about 12 hours. Occasionally for fun we’ll take our convertible back out for dinner or some kid activity like scouts or soccer. Still the daily driver sits there.

        My commute fits well within the Leaf or the Volt’s range. How far do you drive each day?

        The technology is ready now. The price isn’t by my measure. Get them to $25K and I’ll bite.

        I drove the Volt last week. NICE car. Don’t like the styling but I did like the electric drive. Did like the feel of everything and it has more bells and whistles than I’d ever need or want. Decided I’d still rather have all electric drive though on our daily commuter car. Save the ICE for the weekends.

  • avatar

    Well I’m not terribly suprised, but I had high hopes for the locomotive-style hybrid train. There is no getting around physics – its still a heavy luxo barge loaded to the gills with doodads and fragrant leather. Economical it will not be. See also Lexus LS600h.

    Of course it offers one distinct advantage over the Tesla – the battery dying won’t leave you stranded on the side of the road.

  • avatar
    axual

    Half a billion dollars of hard earned taxpayers money wasted on a heavy vehicle that costs $97,000 each.

    The reign of stupidity continues … astonishingly unsurprising given politicians who don’t know squat about this topic or anything else other than “get me voted in next time”.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_War

      That’s $1T. $1.2T by other measures. Where is anger? I think would could have hardened our borders for that kind of cash.

      The EV tech is an investment in the future. I think it is too expensive to be sure but EVs can carry the commuter through the next centuries where the fossil fueled ICE powered cars are a liability. An ICE needs gas, diesel or nat.gas. An EV can get power from solar, wind, hydro, nukes, coal, gas, diesel, nat.gas, etc.

  • avatar
    amca

    I was always suspicious of these Fiskers. How could a little company do the necessary engineering work, when existing automakers needed huge engineering staffs just to bring out a simple compact.

    But here’s the outcome: the car is inefficient, and radically overweight. 5300 lbs? A Volt, which has similar interior space (actually, probably better because it’s packaged more efficiently) weighs but 3,700 lbs. There’s 1,600 lbs more weight in a Fisker. That’s the kind of lardiness it takes big work to remove, big work Fisker couldn’t do. And the efficiency numbers tell the story.

    It’s kinda sad that this smaller, slimmer car company model doesn’t work. But it would have been a huge surprise if it had.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India