Fisker's Sticker Shock: 32 Miles On Electricity, 20 MPG On Range Extender

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

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, 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 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?

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Axual Axual on Oct 21, 2011

    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".

    • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Oct 25, 2011 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.

  • Amca Amca on Oct 29, 2011

    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.

  • Ronin Let's see the actuals first, then we can decide using science.What has been the effect of auto pollution levels since the 70s when pollution control devices were first introduced? Since the 80s when they were increased?How much has auto pollution specifically been reduced since the introduction of hybrid vehicles? Of e-vehicles?We should well be able to measure the benefits by now, by category of engine. We shouldn't have to continue to just guess the benefits. And if we can't specifically and in detail measure the benefits by now, it should make a rational person wonder if there really are any real world benefits.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Simply put, I like it.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Ah GM, never stop being you. GM is working hard to make FIAT look good.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Top Gear of the 2000's was a fresh concept and very well done. Sadly to say there isn't a TV show concept that doesn't eventually exhaust fresh ideas and, as a result, begins to rehash and wear out once were fresh ideas. The show eventually becomes a pale imitation of itself, then begins to embarrass itself, it will get to a point where it jumps the shark. Top Gear began to get stale, the Clarkson, Hammond and May left and the formula failed - surprise! the presenters were part of the magic. Fast forward many years and Grand Tower is trying hard to be Top Gear but it's all very obviously scripted (it always was by felt spontaneous in its original form), Clarkson, Hammond and May are much older, tired and have become caricatures of themselves. Guys, just stop. You should have stopped 10 years ago. Now you're just screwing with your reputations and legacies.
  • FreedMike Kudos to Toyota for making a legitimately slick looking piece (particularly in metallic cherry red). But PHEVs seem like a very narrow niche to me. Yes, the concept is cool - if you play your cards right you never have to fill up with gas, and the gas engine means you don't have to worry about charging facilities - but the operative words are "if you play your cards right." And PHEVs have all the drawbacks of EVs - spotty charging availability, decreased range in cold conditions, and higher price. Personally, I'd opt for a non plug-in Prius and use the plug-in money to upgrade the trim level. It's slower, but even the base Prius performs roughly on par with a Corolla or Civic, so it's not a dog anymore. But who buys a Prius to go fast in the first place? If I wanted to "go gas free," I'd just buy a BEV. YMMV, of course.