By on June 13, 2018

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]

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19 Comments on “Rare Rides: A Tale of Fisker Karma (Part II)...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The system also promised to improve the driver experience, but it’s unclear how.

    Obviously not running over people improves your experience compared to running over people. Especially if your passengers won’t shut up about it.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Despite the Karma’s bulk, it was whisper quiet at around-town speeds.”

    In my experience, that’s pretty much the universal EV driving experience at town speeds, regardless of make. Higher speeds bring out the air and tire noises.

  • avatar

    I always recall this as the car in Two and a Half Men, after Charlie Sheen imploded, was drive by the replacement guy, to show his true Silicon Valley nuevo-rich-ness.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I was aware of this car before the return of 2.5 Men with Ashton Kutcher (of That 70’s Show fame) in the starring role.

      But, it is now forever associated in my mind with the bizarre reboot of that TV show, more than anything else.

  • avatar
    Ermel

    I cannot get over how shabby the interior looks in picture 2. I’d expect something like this from something inexpensive from 1988 which was parked outside for the last 10 years — although my last parts car was way better than this on the inside.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Yeah what is going on with the passenger seats leather? Is that just the photo or is it really that nasty? The drivers seat has creases too, but not the discoloration.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      There’s something about that interior cloth used that reminds me of those cheap-o sofas (slouch couches?) that they used to sell at Wal-Mart and other discount stores. They looked like a bunch of pillows stacked on top of another.

      Those sofas were almost invariably the ones at the side of the road when someone got evicted out of their apartment.

      Not a good look for an expensive car. It’s like they spent all of the development money on the outside of the car and then gave up on the interior and let the folks from Yugo have at it.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    That piece of wood on the center stack always reminds me of the top edge of a drafter’s T-square.

  • avatar
    nutbags

    I forgot how heavy they were. It’s a shame they failed as I always thought they were great looking and the proper way to do a hybrid – use the gas engine as a generator for added range. Would still like to have one – does any company make a car like this today?

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      Yes. Chevrolet Volt (with a V). It’s the only legitimate extended range electric vehicle on the market in my opinion. There is the BMW i3 REx, but it can’t continuously provide full power output in gas mode and has a motorcycle size gas tank. And there are many plug-in hybrids or PHEVs (just like regular hybrids but with a bigger battery and a plug), but they can’t provide full power output in electric mode. So the Volt is your jam. Not quite as pretty as a Karma, nothing is, but the current generation Volt is pretty good looking really: almost the exact same lines as a Volvo S60, but with a lower nose for better aero (and deader pedestrians, but never mind that).

      • 0 avatar
        nutbags

        Thanks for the info HotPotato. I liked the original Volt styling much better than the current one. I did consider leasing one a few years ago but lease pricing was higher than I expected even after all of the government subsidies. Maybe the next revision will make them a little more appealing to me.

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      I think the way to do a range extender is to have it power the wheels directly, perhaps through a tall-geared CVT. When you plan on doing a long trip, you switch to long range mode and the motor kicks on right away. It can be a small motor, just big enough to maintain, say, 85 mph…maybe 50 hp. The batteries will do the heavy lifting for accelerating and hill climbing.

      This way, you can get by with a much smaller, simpler, lighter drivetrain and save yoruself the added cost of a high-power generator.

  • avatar
    syncro87

    Hopefully Karma rear seat passengers only had outboard arms.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    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)


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