First range-extender four-door saloon to be delivered this month; Fisker 3-series rival in 2013

The first Fisker Karma will be delivered later this month, with the company claiming to secured 3000 pre-orders for the radical range-extended four-door performance car.

The Mercedes CLS-sized Karma is the work of former Aston Martin designer Henrik Fisker, and has been developed around a bespoke aluminium spaceframe chassis. Its powertrain consists of a mid-mounted battery pack and twin rear-mounted electric motors, with a 260bhp 2.0-litre turbo four acting as a generator when electric power is depleted.

Film star Leonardo di Caprio will take delivery of the first production car, with high-profile buyers including Al Gore and Colin Powell set to follow.

Read Autocar's Fisker Karma first drive review

At present five cars a week are being built at the Valmet production plant in Finland, with production set to rise to 300 cars a week from November. Consequently Fisker estimates the $100,000 car (set to cost around £95,000 in the UK after taxes) is sold out until early 2012.

"Our sales are split 50:50 between early-adopting car enthusiasts and total non-car enthusiasts who just like that we are bringing something totally new to market," said Fisker. "They recognise the infrastructure isn't there for electric cars, and see we offer a stylish, stress-free alternative with no range compromises."

Saloon, convertible and shooting-brake models of the Karma will eventually be produced, with the latter set to be unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show in September.

See pics of the Fisker Karma in action

Subsequently, in 2013, a smaller, four-door range-extended BMW 3-series rival will be launched, which is currently known as Project Nina.

Again, there will be three bodystyles and it will cost from $50,000, although unlike the Karma it will be available in left and right-hand drive.

Fisker estimates it will sell 100,000 Nina models a year, making it one of the best-selling alternatively powered vehicles when it goes on sale.

Jim Holder

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