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2012 Fisker Karma Review

The premium luxury Fisker Karma is the world's first true Electric Vehicle with extended range (EVer™). Series hybrid technology – powerful electric motors, a lithium-ion battery and a high-efficiency internal-combustion engine/ generator set – delivers a total range of 300 miles (483 km), and can achieve more than 100 mpg (2.4 L/100 km) with just 83g CO2/km on an annual basis.
2012 Fisker Karma photo2012 Fisker Karma photo
Unrivaled luxury, style and performance combine with industry-leading fuel efficiency and the lowest emissions of nearly any production vehicle.
2012 Fisker Karma photo2012 Fisker Karma photo
Meets or exceeds all applicable safety, emissions and homologation regulations for global markets.
2012 Fisker Karma photo2012 Fisker Karma photo
Production start just 37 months after concept unveiled in 2008.
2012 Fisker Karma photo2012 Fisker Karma photo
From new California automaker Fisker Automotive comes the Fisker Karma, the world's first true Electric Vehicle with extended range (EVer™) and a radical expression of what is possible in the automotive world.
Loosely translating from Hindi, Karma implies good deeds are rewarded. The Fisker Karma allows drivers who appreciate style and performance to own and enjoy a car that is also environmentally conscious, one that achieves fuel consumption and emissions performance that is simply beyond the capability of today's conventional luxury automobiles.
2012 Fisker Karma photo2012 Fisker Karma photo
Combining striking, elegant design with high performance, ultra-low fuel consumption and zero emissions on demand, the four-door, four-seat Karma embodies the brand's commitment to creating Uncompromised Responsible Luxury™ vehicles that deliver Pure Driving Passion.
The Karma – an all-new car with all-new technology from an all-new company – arrives in showrooms this summer, setting a new benchmark for time-to-market after being unveiled as a concept in 2008 and creating the Premium Luxury EV segment.
With its proprietary EVer™ powertrain - inspired by a military stealth vehicle - the Fisker Karma can accelerate from zero-to-60 mph in just 5.9 seconds, yet achieve the equivalent of more than 100 miles per gallon and 83 g/km CO₂ emissions in real-world driving on an annual basis.
The Karma can run purely on electric power supplied by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery for up to 50 miles (80 km); after that, a 175 kW generator driven by an efficient, 2.0 liter, direct-injection, turbocharged gasoline engine extends the range an additional 250 miles (403 km). The Karma's total range between recharge/refuel can reach 300 miles.
With a U.S. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $95,900 before federal tax incentives of $7,500, and a €85,500 suggested retail price in Europe, the world-class Fisker Karma will be competitive with more conventional luxury sedans such as the BMW 750i AcitveHybrid,Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid, Porsche Panamera S and Audi A8 TDI. The Karma also offers a tremendous value over such super sedans as the $120,000 Maserati Quattroporte and $200,000 Aston Martin Rapide.
With incredible economy, and the ability to drive tailpipe-emission free, the Fisker Karma is the only truly responsible choice for luxury car buyers.
The Karma is Fisker Automotive's first car. It is built according to the company's Sustainable and Accountable Design™ philosophy, which represents a dramatic leap forward for the entire auto industry.
2012 Fisker Karma photo2012 Fisker Karma photo
Fisker understands that developing, building, marketing and disposing of cars is an incredibly energy- and resource-intensive proposition. As a new company starting with a clean slate, Fisker sees great opportunity to improve this process and reimagine what the world can expect of its automakers.
By adamantly pursuing ways to raise efficiency and reduce environmental impact – including its carbon footprint – across the entire value chain, Fisker Automotive is striving to be the automaker most dedicated to sustainability and accountability.
The Fisker Karma and all future Fisker vehicles will be sold and serviced through a global network of established, reputable, independent retailers. In the U.S., 45 locations have been identified, with a similar number planned for European markets.
Fisker’s European retail network is being developed and will be managed by importers like the Emil Frey Group in Zurich, Switzerland, and Nellemann in Copenhagen, Denmark. Fisker Italia in Merano, Italy, and BD Otomotive in Istanbul, Turkey, round out the company’s presence on the continent. Fisker also entered into a non-exclusive distribution agreement with China Grand Automotive in Shanghai in December, 2010.
Significantly, the Fisker Karma is the first American-designed and engineered luxury vehicle specifically developed to appeal to world markets. It is the only luxury sedan in the world that meets future fuel consumption and emission requirements, making it suitable for any international city.
Other variants of the Karma, including a convertible, are planned, and Fisker is preparing to build a second, lower-priced model line in a 3.2 million square foot (297,000 m2) assembly plant the company is refitting in Wilmington, Delaware.
Fisker's approach to Uncompromised Responsible Luxury™ goes well beyond minimizing fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions. At every stage of engineering, production and marketing – even in the furnishing of company facilities – Fisker employs reused or renewable materials and the lowest-impact technologies available.
As one example, the three types of interior wood trim available in the Karma are sourced from timber reclaimed from California forest fires and windstorms and raised off Michigan lake bottoms. No live growth is ever harvested for this purpose. Also, 'Bridge of Weir Low Carbon Leather™' interior trim is made with a uniquely low-impact process in an energy self-sustaining facility.
True EVer™
The Fisker Karma is the first and only true production Electric Vehicle with extended range (EVer™). Simply put, that means the Karma is driven solely and at all times by electric traction motors. An on-board range-extending gasoline engine drives a generator to power the motors as needed; there is no mechanical link between the internal-combustion engine and the drive wheels.
This exclusive EVer™ powertrain was inspired by a high-performance stealth vehicle created for U.S. Military special operations. At its heart is a 20 kWh rechargeable lithium-ion battery developed by Fisker Automotive's strategic partner A123 Systems of Watertown, Massachusetts. State-of-the-art Nanophosphate™ technology maximizes energy, power, reliability and safety.
2012 Fisker Karma photo2012 Fisker Karma photo
Running on the battery alone – which can be charged in about six hours using Fisker’s available 220V wall charger - the Karma can cover 50 miles (80 km); after that, the range extender – a front/mid-mounted gasoline engine/generator set – provides another 250 miles of range by supplying supplemental power to dual rear-mounted electric motors, for a total range of 300 miles (483 km).
The Fisker Karma contributes to sustainability even when parked, with the world's largest and most powerful automotive solar panel integrated into its roof, as standard. It is the only solar installation on a production vehicle that collects energy to be stored. Enough energy can be collected by the roof over the course of a year to power the Karma for nearly 200 cost- and emission-free miles.
Two Driving Modes
The Fisker Karma is also the first and only car that allows the driver to manually select all-electric or hybrid-electric drive modes on demand. The default Stealth mode maximizes efficiency, giving the car its greatest range on battery power before activating the gas engine-driven generator to sustain battery charge. In Stealth mode, the Karma can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds and achieve a top speed of 95 mph (153 km/h).
More telling of the Karma's acceleration capability and feel, however, is the massive 981 lb.-ft. (1,330 Nm) of peak torque available instantaneously (from zero rpm). By comparison, most conventionally-powered luxury sedans develop less than half of that torque and at a much higher rpm. Because the Karma is always driven by its electric motors and a single-ratio transmission/differential combination, the driver can always feel and enjoy powerful, seamless, linear acceleration.
A single pull on the Karma's left-hand steering wheel paddle engages Sport mode. Now the gasoline engine drives the generator to provide additional current that supplements that from the battery. This is enough electricity for 403 total system horsepower, allowing the Karma to accelerate from zero to 60 mph in just 5.9 seconds and achieve a top speed of 125 mph (201 km/h).
Because of the electric motors' torque characteristics, the Karma will feel even quicker.
Sport mode conserves, and in certain circumstances replenishes, battery charge. The driver can switch back to Stealth mode at any time; this can be useful when arriving in low-emission zones, which are being designated in many cities around the world.
The Karma also features a fully-blended regenerative braking system. Regenerative braking captures kinetic energy that would otherwise be wasted as brake-rotor heat, and feeds it back into the battery. Using the right-hand steering wheel paddle, the driver can operate Hill Mode to vary regenerative braking effect in three steps; this unique function provides an effect similar to downshifting a conventional car's transmission to offer varied levels of speed control. Hill Mode is ideal for downhill grades and can be used to shorten braking distances.
World Class Ride and Handling
In all aspects of performance, the Fisker Karma is designed to be a true driver's car, one dedicated to the concept of Pure Driving Passion. Its proprietary, advanced aluminum space frame incorporates new levels of rigidity and strength that give the Karma world-class ride and handling characteristics.
Fisker Automotive's engineering team designed the Karma's space frame around the car's unique EVer™ powertrain, filing for multiple patents in the process.
Housing the car's battery pack in a structural tunnel running down the car's centerline helps endow the Karma with a very low center of gravity, and also contributes to the car's ideal weight distribution.
2012 Fisker Karma photo2012 Fisker Karma photo
As a result, the Karma drives more like a midsize sport sedan than a full-size luxury sedan. In addition, the Karma does not need expensive, complex and power-robbing suspension aids to deliver flat cornering.
The four-wheel independent SLA suspension, also employing aluminum components, has been specially tuned to work with the first standard 22-inch aluminum wheels on a production car.
The Fisker-designed Circuit Blade™ wheels first appeared on the original concept vehicle in 2008. Electro-hydraulic, variable-ratio and variable-assist power steering is tuned for optimum control and feel.
The Karma's space frame also forms the foundation of occupant safety - and protection for the sealed batteries - helping the luxury sedan to exceed global crash protection standards.
Eight advanced airbags, Antilock Brakes (ABS), traction control (TCS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Panic Brake Assist (PBA) are all part of the package.
Brembo® 6-piston monoblock front brakes and 4-piston rear brakes provide incredible stopping power, bolstered by the regenerative braking.
Timeless Styling, Revolutionary Design
Fisker Automotive is a new company, without entrenched attitudes, where designers and engineers have the liberty to pursue uncompromised solutions to previously unsolved problems. The sculptural quality of the Karma’s body shape is one result of that liberty.
The Karma's elegant and striking exterior design incorporates the dramatic proportion that is signature Fisker style. In his previous career positions, company CEO Henrik Fisker designed some of the most iconic automobiles of the modern era, including the BMW Z8 roadster and the Aston Martin DB9 and V8 Vantage.
True to Fisker Automotive's goal of bringing the Karma concept to reality in its original form, the production car retains, and even adds to, all of the original concept's elegant design, powerful stance and unique detailing.
A sedan with coupe-like appearance, the Karma exudes a distinctly athletic presence highlighted by a long hood and short deck, a low roofline, wide stance, pronounced fenders and standard 22-inch wheels.
The Karma is built on a long 124-inch (3,160mm) wheelbase, yet short overhangs keep overall length to 196.7 inches (4,996mm). The car's 53.4-inch (1,330mm) height is as low as some sports cars, though interior room is comfortable for four.
These dimensions are nearly identical to those of the original Fisker Karma concept car.
Sustainability is Beautiful
Fisker Automotive's Sustainable and Accountable Design™ philosophy is apparent throughout the Karma's cabin, exemplified by the use of reclaimed, recycled and reusable materials.
Fisker leads the luxury category by offering the most sustainability-conscious interior in its top-line EcoChic™ package. The exclusive EcoChic™ series replaces leather with a high-grade textile and Premium EcoSuede™ trim.
Leather for the mid-line EcoSport™ model is sourced from the world's first energy-self-sufficient, closed-loop leather manufacturing plant; both gas and electricity are generated on-site from by-products of the leather making.
2012 Fisker Karma photo2012 Fisker Karma photo
Hides are purchased exclusively from suppliers that adopt the Five Freedoms set of principles for humane animal treatment. The processing is low-pigmentation and chrome-free, greatly reducing environmental impact. Yield is the highest in the industry, which means fewer hides are used. Each Karma EcoSport interior has its own unique texture and appearance; no two are the same.
Optional Diamond Dust™ paint – another world first – contains a 35 to 55 percent recycled glass flake mixture, and the water-based paint process releases no volatile organic compounds (VOC). This luxurious paint option leads the industry in reflectivity, shine and gloss.
As in the original concept car, the production Karma has a four-seat cockpit with a large center console running from the dashboard to the rear seatback. Fisker designers took inspiration from both nature and classic sports cars to craft the Karma's interior. The lines of shifting desert sand dunes inspired interior shapes; metal and glass-inspired materials add depth and clarity. The Karma's chrome-bezel digital instrumentation, reminiscent of the finest Swiss timepieces and classic sports car instrumentation, focuses on ease of use.
Easy-to-Use Technology
The centerpiece of the Karma’s cabin is the Fisker Command Center™, which uses an industry-first 10.2-inch (250 mm) haptic force-feedback touch-screen that consolidates controls for climate, audio, standard navigation, telephone and other vehicle systems.
It nearly eliminates the engineering, tooling, assembly and user complexity associated with the dozens of buttons found on traditional dashboards, and greatly reduces associated waste at the end of the vehicle's service life. Inputs are met with instantaneous tactile, audio and visual feedback that enables the driver to confidently confirm system commands.
The full-featured Fisker Command Center™ also offers iPod® integration and Bluetooth® phone pairing. In addition, the Fisker Command Center™ can display vehicle power flow from the battery pack, engine-driven generator and regenerative brakes, as well as energy gain from the integrated solar roof panel.
Operational modes are accessed via fixed icons; individual controls within each mode instantly appear on the touch screen. There is no computer paradigm to learn, nor menus to navigate.
Quality Build
Assembly for the first-generation Karma has been contracted to Valmet Automotive in Finland, and reputable Tier 1 OEM suppliers. Valmet has built more than one million quality cars for various automotive brands since 1969. It currently builds the Porsche Boxster and Cayman sports cars.
The Fisker Karma comes standard with a New Vehicle Limited Bumper to Bumper Warranty for 50 months or 50,000 miles (100,000 kilometers), whichever comes first.
About Fisker Automotive, Inc.
Fisker Automotive is a new American electric vehicle manufacturer with a mission to redefine the luxury automobile through an unwavering dedication to sustainability. Global headquarters are in Anaheim, California. Acclaimed auto designer Henrik Fisker and industry veteran Bernhard Koehler established the company in 2007 to address the need for Uncompromised Responsible Luxury vehicles that deliver Pure Driving Passion.
Previously, Fisker was design director and a board member for Aston Martin, as well as president and CEO of DesignworksUSA, BMW's North American design arm. Koehler led operations for Ford's Global Advanced Design Studio in London and created concept cars for Aston Martin, MINI and BMW.
2012 Fisker Karma photo2012 Fisker Karma photo
Equipment and Technical Specifications
All Karma trim levels powered by Fisker EVer™ (Electric Vehicle extended range) dual mode powertrain consisting of:
Motors Two rear-mounted electric traction motors, mid-mounted lithium ion battery pack and front/mid-mounted range-extending gasoline engine/generator set
Battery: 20 kWh, 180 kW lithium ion w/Nanophosphate™ technology (A123 Systems)
Range-extending gasoline Engine/Generator set:
2.0-liter, 260hp, low-emission, four-cylinder direct fuel-injection w/ turbocharger (GM Ecotec®) and 175 kW generator
Traction motors: 403 hp (300 kW) total [2 x 201.5 hp (150 kW)]
Torque: 981 lb.-ft (1300 Nm) @ 0 rpm
Transmission: Single-ratio gearbox/Limited Slip Differential combination
On-board battery recharging system w/standard 110v plug (available 220V charging). Solar roof converts radiated power from the sun into stored electric energy, effectively increasing the electric range.
Stealth Mode:
Lithium-ion battery power only
0-60mph (97 km/h) = 7.9 sec
Top Speed = 95mph (153 km/h)
Sport Mode:
Lithium-ion power with Engine/Generator
0-60mph (97km/h) = 5.9 sec
Top Speed = 125mph (201 km/h) electronically limited
Range: Total Range: 300 miles (483 km)
50 miles (80km) electric only
250 miles (403 km) extended range
Brake by wire, electro-hydraulically power assisted four-wheel disc with fully blended regenerative brake system and push-through override
Front: Brembo® 370mm x 34mm floating, directionally ventilated rotors and six-piston monobloc calipers
Rear: Brembo® 365mm x 28mm single piece, directionally ventilated rotors with four-piston calipers
Electrically actuated parking brake with capacitor back-up
Four-wheel independent, sport-tuned aluminum Short-Long Arm (SLA) geometry
Front: Mono-tube coil-over shock absorbers and 30mm anti-roll bar
Rear: Self-leveling Sachs Nivomat® mono-tube coil-over shock absorbers and 24mm anti-roll bar
Variable assist, variable ratio, electro-hydraulically power assisted rack and pinion
Solid linkage (no dampers) between steering wheel and steering rack
2.7 turns lock-to-lock
Wheels and Tires
Aluminum alloy Fisker Circuit Blade™ design wheels
Front: Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 255/35/WR22 [wheels: 22" x 8.5"]
Rear: Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 285/35/WR22 [wheels: 22" x 9.5"]
Tire Inflator Kit
Chassis / Body Configuration
4 door / 4 passenger sedan
Proprietary, advanced aluminum space frame
Lightweight aluminum and composite body panels
Safety & Security
Karma meets or exceeds global crash-protection standards
Integrated front and rear crush zones and side impact protection
Eight airbags: Front dual advanced supplemental restraint system with knee airbags; Front knee airbags (2); Full length side curtains (2); Seat side airbags (2)
Antilock Brakes, Traction Control, Electronic Stability Control, Panic Brake Assist
Three-point seat belts with automatic pretensioners
Impact-actuated door unlock, battery disconnect and hazard lamp activation
Lower Anchors & Tethers for Children (LATCH) system for front and rear passengers
Design meets or exceeds global crash protection standards
Anti-theft system with Panic Alert
Park assist
Features & Amenities
Bi-Xenon headlamps
Low-energy LED lamps for indicators, brake, tail, reverse, side markers and rear fog
One-touch lane change indicators
Animated gear-select indicator lighting
Interior lighting with parade mode and theatre dimming
Individual overhead map lights
Integrated puddle lamps
Interior Materials
Seating surfaces and door panels designed to reflect pure leather grain.
Contrasting surfaces and accent stitching.
Seating foam made from soy-based bio fiber.
Interior Wood: Certified Deep Sunken Wood™ - dark tinted White Oak retrieved from the bottom of Lake Michigan as a result of the logging industry in the late 1800's, its pure grain finished naturally.
Wing wood substrate made with recyclable post consumer pine fiber.
EcoLucent™ transparent battery column and door inserts made from 40% post-industrial recycled content.
Carpet backing made from recycled post consumer materials.
Comfort & Convenience
Remote lock/unlock and trunk release with perimeter lighting
Remote interior trunk release
Interior and exterior electric door release
Central door lock/unlock
Keyless push button Start/Stop
Six-way power adjustable front seats with lumbar support and three heat settings
Heated rear seats
Dual-zone automatic climate control
Solar-powered unattended cabin temperature control
One-touch windshield defrost
Electric rear defroster w/auto off
Variable intermittent windshield wipers
Tinted windows glass with privacy rear windows
Express up/down windows with pinch protection
Auto-dim rearview mirror with Homelink®
Power adjustable, power folding, heated and auto-dimming side mirrors
Power tilt/telescoping steering wheel
Cruise Control
Park assist
Front and rear 12v and USB power ports
Electric glove box release
Remote fuel filler release
Audio & Entertainment
Fisker Command Center™ - World’s first 10.2-inch multifunction haptic touch-screen display
Premium Audio System including four-channel, six-speaker configuration
AM, FM, MP3, USB & AUX connectivity
SiriusXM®Satellite Radio ready
Bluetooth® hands-free phone compatibility
Steering wheel-mounted audio & hands-free phone controls


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