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Detroit show: Fisker gets frisky

Not only but also: Fisker sprung a surprise at Detroit by unveiling a convertible, the Karma S.

Sleek metal-roofed convertible joins eco-friendly Fisker sedan as production looms

16 Jan 2009

HYBRID sportscar maker Fisker grabbed more than its share of the publicity spotlight at the Detroit auto show last week by revealing not only the production-ready version of its four-door Karma but also a two-door convertible.

Former BMW and Aston Martin designer Henrik Fisker, who styled the Z8 roadster, unveiled the two stunners and announced he already had more than 1000 orders for the sedan, with deliveries from late 2009 and prices starting at $US87,900.

The convertible, featuring a folding metal roof, is called the Karma S – the S standing for Sunset. It is scheduled to go into production in 2011.

Fisker and rival eco-friendly sportscar maker Tesla have had a fractious relationship in recent months, so Fisker cannot have been too pleased when Tesla secured a last-minute cheap deal for a stand directly opposite its own in the Cobo Center.

118 center imageLast year Tesla sued Fisker, who had been working for Tesla as a design consultant, alleging he had stolen design ideas – but a court found in Fisker’s favour.

Indeed, the two companies’ products are very different – the only real similarity is that they are both offering eco-friendly performance cars. While Tesla is concentrating on battery-electric vehicles, Fisker’s cars are plug-in hybrids.

Built on an aluminium spaceframe architecture, both Fisker models use the same Q-Drive hybrid powertrain, developed originally for military vehicles by Quantum Technologies, which allows the cars to run as pure electric cars for about 80km, with extra performance coming from a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that acts as a generator rather than powering the wheels.

Drive goes to the rear wheels only via two 150kW electric motors mounted on the rear differential and the company claims it will accelerate from 0-96km/h in 5.8 seconds, with a top speed of 201km/h.

Cruising range using the GM-sourced petrol engine is about 500km, but Fisker claims that average annual fuel consumption will average better than 100 miles per gallon (2.35L/100km).

Sitting on massive 22-inch wheels, the two-door Karma S features a powered metal roof that covers a well-finished interior with lots of suede-like material and accommodation for four, though the rear seat is more suitable for kids.

Fisker has signed a deal with Finnish contract manufacturer Valmet, and production of the Karma will start by the end of 2009 in a plant that previously built the Porsche Boxster.

Fisker said he has 1300 deposits for its cars and output could potentially rise to 12-16,000 units a year, split two-thirds Karma and one-third Sunset, while other models, including an wagon, could be added using the same platform.

The decision to outsource production meant “all the money goes into product development”, said Wolfgang Ziebart, a former BMW director working as a consultant to Fisker.

He said the time was right to launch, despite the global economic crisis.

“The industry is being turned upside down, so now is a good time for a new company to make an impact,” he said.

Read more:

Fisker’s green Karma chameleon is red-hot

Electric car wars

First look: Fisker’s Quantum leap


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