If you want to get a Fisker Karma, get in line.

The automotive startup, which plans to bring luxury plug-in hybrids to market, has fine-tuned its release calendar. The company will begin production of the car in late 2009 but it won't start delivering cars to customers until May or June 2010, according to Russell Datz, a spokesperson for the company. Fisker said earlier it would start production in 2009, but the delivery date for customers was a little bit vague.

But if you want one, you need to reserve a spot in line. Fisker has already taken 1,400 orders for the car, Datz said. If you order now, you might not get one until late summer or fall in 2010, he added. Founder Hendrik Fisker has been making the rounds lately and met with a group of auto journalists on the west coast.

The year 2010 is going to be a big one for newfangled cars. Bigger than even 1897 when the Stanley Steamer debuted. General Motors will bring its plug-in hybrid the Chevy Volt to market that year. Nissan and Ford, meanwhile, will come out with all electric cars. (Ford will initially target its electric as a delivery vehicle for fleet car owners.) Tesla Motors, meanwhile, will continue to sell its Tesla Roadster and no doubt tout the all-electric sedan, the Model S, coming in 2011.

Fisker will likely find itself locked in tight competition with Tesla. Both companies are aiming at the luxury end of the market and, ideally, will be able to trickle their technology down into the mid-range and budget segments of the market. Both have also raised lavish sums of cash in their attempts to bring electrified cars to market.

Nonetheless, there are significant differences between the two and how the two companies fare will likely be followed very closely. Fisker's cars are plug-in hybrids that will contain gas engines that will recharge the batteries while it drives. Plug-in advocates say this will lower the cost and extend the range of these cars. Since no one has mass produced plug-in hybrids, it's an open question. Tesla makes only all-electric cars and cancelled plans to do a plug-ins, arguing that they don't really save money. Fisker will sell its cars through existing dealerships: Tesla wants to build its own showrooms.