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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides a tale of fisker karma part i

To my recollection, we’ve only had one EV-type vehicle thus far in the Rare Rides series, and it was Toyota’s ill-fated and corporately sabotaged RAV4 EV. That changes today, with another plug-in vehicle that crashed and burned.

Today’s Rare Rides is the first installment in a three-part trilogy of the life and times of the Fisker Karma.

The Fisker company was established in 2007, and spent the first few years of its life modifying BMW and Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Interiors, body kits, and engine modifications were the extent of its purview. But the company had bigger ideas in mind, and all the while had been working on a brand new hybrid to supplement its BMW leather kit income.

The first reveal of the Karma came at the North American International Auto Show in 2008. Audiences learned that the Karma was a plug-in hybrid vehicle in the same vein as Honda’s present-day Clarity plug-in. A 2.0-liter GM-sourced Ecotec engine producing 260 horsepower was found under its hood, and the Karma boasted electric motors at the rear wheels that each produced 161 horsepower. Between the engine and electric motors were battery packs. Manufactured by A123 Systems, the 20.1 kilowatt-hour battery was mounted right down the spine of the vehicle. All this equipment meant the Karma was a four-seat-only vehicle. No room for a luxurious bench in the rear.

Running on battery mode would allow the Karma a 32-mile range. At that point, or when the owner put the vehicle in Sport mode, the Ecotec engine fired up and supplied 260 horsepower to a generator. In turn, the generator sent power directly to the electric motors. In the Karma’s arrangement, the Ecotec engine was disconnected entirely from the wheels. Only the twin electric motors actively propelled the vehicle.

Using the gasoline engine extended the overall range to 230 miles, as the engine also charged the battery when it was running. Providing accessory power only, solar panels mounted on the roof aided overall range by reducing main battery strain on sunny days. Owners could also plug the Karma into the wall at charge points, adding to the versatility.

The Karma sounded very promising, and consumers lined up to spend between $102,000 and $116,000 on a range of three trims, prior to any options. Suitably, the three trims were called EcoStandard, EcoSport, and EcoChic — the latter of which did not contain any animal byproducts. Deliveries to consumers began in July of 2011, and buyers were eager to take up driving their new luxury sports ecomobile.

In Part II, we’ll see what those well-heeled customers found after taking delivery.

[Images: seller]

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2 of 24 comments
  • Cactuar Cactuar on Jun 13, 2018

    I liked the exhaust smoke entering the cabin.

  • THX1136 THX1136 on Jun 13, 2018

    Too bad the photos were taken at "standing level" instead of "belt level". Thanks, Corey. Looking forward to parts 2 and 3.

  • CEastwood Seven mil nitrile gloves from Harbor Freight for oil changes and such and the thicker heavy duty gripper gloves from Wally World for most everything else . Hell we used to use no gloves for any of that and when we did it was usually the white cloth gloves bought by the dozen or the gray striped cuff ones for heavy duty use . Old man rant over , but I laugh when I see these types of gloves in a bargain bin at Home Cheapo for 15 bucks a pair !
  • Not Previous Used Car of the Day entries that spent decades in the weeds would still be a better purchase than this car. The sucker who takes on this depreciated machine will learn the hard way that a cheap German car is actually a very expensive way to drive around.
  • Bullnuke Well, production cuts may be due to transport-to-market issues. The MV Fremantle Highway is in a Rotterdam shipyard undergoing repairs from the last shipment of VW products (along with BMW and others) and to adequately fireproof it. The word in the shipping community is that insurance necessary for ships moving EVs is under serious review.
  • Frank Wait until the gov't subsidies end, you aint seen nothing yet. Ive been "on the floor" when they pulled them for fuel efficient vehicles back during/after the recession and the sales of those cars stopped dead in their tracks
  • Vulpine The issue is really stupidly simple; both names can be taken the wrong way by those who enjoy abusing language. Implying a certain piece of anatomy is a sign of juvenile idiocy which is what triggered the original name-change. The problem was not caused by the company but rather by those who continuously ridiculed the original name for the purpose of VERY low-brow humor.