Rare Rides: A Tale of Fisker Karma (Part II)

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

In Part I of our Fisker Karma Rare Rides trilogy, we learned of the technology and promise lying just beneath the swooping curves of the sedan’s seriously stylish body. Today we talk economy of fuel, space, and materials.

Fisker fit as much of the aforementioned technology into the Karma as humanly possible, and all the batteries, motors, solar panels, and earth-friendly materials took their toll. The first casualty was in fuel economy, as the EPA rated the Karma at 52 miles per gallon in pure EV mode, but just 20 mpg in internal combustion mode.

The second area of compromise was in the interior. As mentioned last time, the Karma only had room for four people due to the batteries running down its backbone. A tall tunnel inside the cabin limited passenger space to a great extent. So much so, that the EPA classified the car as a subcompact. All four cramped passengers added weight to a vehicle that tipped the scales at 5,300 pounds when it left the factory. That’s about 100 pounds shy of a 2018 Yukon Denali. At nearly 196 inches long and 78 inches wide, it had the length of a 1988 Cadillac DeVille, but an additional 7 inches in width.

Despite the Karma’s bulk, it was whisper quiet at around-town speeds. To help increase pedestrian-Fisker awareness, the company developed a new safety system: At speeds below 25 miles per hour, warning sounds played through speakers embedded within the bumper. The system also promised to improve the driver experience, but it’s unclear how.

Once the driver and passengers situated themselves in the snug cabin, they’d note the eco-friendly interior. Reclaimed wood ensured no trees were (recently) harmed for Karma production, and the leather for the seats included hides with scratches and other marks in order to use as much of each hide as possible. In a reversal of luxury norms, the top-trim EcoChic had a fabric interior and a manufactured suede dash, in keeping with the automaker’s animal-free promise.

At this point, things were humming along okay at Fisker — but the tranquility didn’t last. In the third and final installment of the Fisker Trilogy, we’ll delve into exactly what went wrong.

[Images: seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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2 of 19 comments
  • Syncro87 Syncro87 on Jun 14, 2018

    Hopefully Karma rear seat passengers only had outboard arms.

  • SC5door SC5door on Jun 14, 2018

    Recent accident? That deck lid gap on the LH side looks large enough to shove a few fingers in there. (You'll have to pull up the other photos on the CL ad)

  • Vulpine PHEVs have a reputation of being more self-igniting than even an ICEV; 4x as likely and 10x as likely as a BEV.
  • Akear Toyota wins once again, while GM has egg on its face.
  • Slavuta Why America needs school buses altogether? When I was in school, I rode on a regular city bus
  • Jeff Buy whatever works for you if you own an EV and are happy with it good, if you buy a hybrid or plug in hybrid and it works for you good, if neither and you like your ICE the way it is that is also good. I believe over time EVs will get better and have a larger segment of the market.
  • Tassos Jong-iL Is New Jersey better than Old Jersey?