You're going to have to wait a little longer to plunk down $95,000 on a plug-in hybrid.
The Fisker Karma, the luxury plug-in coming from Fisker Automotive, was set to come out in the first quarter, according to the timeline issued by the company last November at the L.A. Auto Show. But since that's come and gone, we decided to call the company for an update.
Right now, there is no concrete date for the release, said a company spokeswoman. However, Silicon Valley sources told us last week that production at the Delaware factory is humming along, so expect cars soon. UPDATE: limited production began March 21, said a new spokesperson. Demo units should hit Europe and the U.S. in a few weeks, with customer deliveries in June/July.
Initially, the car was going to come out in late 2009 and then in late 2010.
The car is a series hybrid, similar to the Chevy Volt. That is, it has a lithium-ion battery pack (with battery cells from Fisker investor A123 Systems) that propels the car, as well as a gas generator to recharge the batteries when they get down to around a 20 percent state of charge. The gas engine helps give the Fisker and Volt a longer range than pure electrics like the Tesla Roadster or Nissan Leaf. The battery pack on the Karma only takes the car 50 miles, longer than the average commute, but the gas engines help it go a few hundred.
However, the gas engine also adds weight. Fisker's generator is an engine from a Pontiac. The Karma, in fact, has two, not one, electric motors.
Another disadvantage to plug-in hybrids: California puts stringent regulations on series plug-in hybrids. While both the Karma and Volt qualify for the $7,500 federal tax credit, getting the $5,000 California tax credit is trickier. The current Volt does not qualify, putting GM at a disadvantage to Nissan.
GM will come out with a California version of the car that will qualify in 2012, the company recently told us. It is unclear if the Karma or the Nina, a mid-range sedan coming in 2012, will qualify.
The Karma will cost around $95,000, up from an estimated $88,000 previously quoted. The Nina, a mid-range sedan, is still slated for 2012 and will cost around $40,000. Tesla's sedan comes out in 2012, as well.
Like Tesla had before the launch of the Roadster, Fisker has an extensive waiting list for the Karma. Hendrik Fisker is also a hero to many automotive reviewers, who have been looking forward to the car.
Fisker has also raised a boatload of money. Read more at the link.