Convertible concept sets the tone for Fisker's future
13 January 2009

Fisker Automotive delivered on its promise that it would unveil the production version of its Karma hybrid saloon at Detroit, but it added a surprise element to the launch – a convertible version of the four-door.

The Fisker Karma S is a concept car but Fisker wants to put it into production. “The Karma S is an extension of the Fisker Automotive range, and sets the tone for our future,” said CEO Henrik Fisker.

A four-seater with a folding hardtop that stows in the boot, the Fisker Karma S is also a plug-in, like the Karma saloon. Fisker has not confirmed when the car will go on sale.

Deliveries of the Karma saloon, which costs $87,900 (£60,000), start this autumn. It is powered by a range-extender set up, with a 256bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine driving a generator that charges the batteries. They power a pair of 198bhp electric motors that drive the rear wheels – the engine never actually propels the car directly.

The car can operate in three modes. In stealth it tries to minimise the need to use the engine to charge the batteries by operating as efficiently as possible, and can use electric drive only for 50 miles.

In HEV mode the Fisker Karma will make greater use of the engine to charge the batteries, and Sport mode prioritises performance, allowing a 0-60mph time of 5.8 seconds and a top speed of up to 148mph.

The Karma can also be plugged into the mains to charge and incorporates what Fisker claims is “the world’s largest continuously formed glass solar panel roof on a car”. The power it produces can be used to run the air-con while the car is parked, as well as adding to the car’s electricity reserves while it is moving.

The Karma will be available in three trim levels. EcoBase, EcoSport and EcoChic. EcoChic replaces leather upholstery with something called Bamboo Viscose, while the wood trim comes from salvaged trees, such as those that died of natural causes rather than being felled specifically for timber.

Julian Rendell

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