The first image of the 100mpg plug-in hybrid that former BMW and Aston Martin designer Henrik Fisker is planning for production in 2009 has been released ahead of the car’s Detroit show debut in January 2008.
Described as “being the height of a Porsche 911, but with the internal space to fit four adults and their luggage”, the new car is a ground-up new design, according to Fisker Automotive.
The swooping, low roof-line and sculpted front wings definitely give Fisker’s design the look of a four-door supercar, with echoes of the Aston Martin Rapide.
But it will need brilliant project management, design and engineering skills to get the production model anywhere near the quality promised in this sketch.
Even more ambitiously, the design gives a glimpse of the look that should lead to a “range of beautiful, exciting-looking environmental-friendly cars”, says the company.
Key performance targets of the sporty four-seater are a 50-mile range on pure electric power and an overall range of 620 miles when the car is used in hybrid mode.
Details of the new hybrid’s chassis and powertrain are still secret, although both petrol and diesel hybrids will be offered.
The chassis? Fisker Automotive claims that “all cars will have a completely new platform developed from the ground-up”.
That will clearly be very expensive and a major technical challenge. For example, getting regulatory approval in crash and emissions tests is enough work to keep teams of dozens of engineers busy at the world’s biggest car-makers for several years.
Developing a reliable and durable electrical system and air conditioning/heating system will be another huge challenge, on top of the basic need to get the hybrid powerrtain operating efficiently.
Even such basic production engineering processes as making doors fit and lock reliably is time-consuming and expensive – it’s something that Britain’s legion of specialist sports car makers often try to avoid.
Yet these details will have to be attended to, because Fisker’s car won’t be cheap at $80,000 (£40,000 at current exchange rates).
Despite such practical realities, Fisker Automotive says the four-seat hybrid will go on sale in “the fourth quarter of 2009” – that’s just two years away.
Most major car-makers expect to take that sort of time to get a new model to production, often after three to five years of concept engineering.
Production is then planned to ramp-up to 15,000 a year by 2011.
A second line, of presumably cheaper models, is planned for 2014, the volume then predicted at an astonishing 100,000 per year.
Fisker Automotive is a new company set-up as a joint venture by Fisker Coachworks and Quantum Technologies to get the hybrid into production.
The ambitious project has just received “initial financing” by Palo Alto Investors, a Californian fund, according to a release from Fisker Automotive.