After three years of design, development and ceaseless high-profile promotion efforts, the first 2012 Fisker Karma plug-in hybrids have now begun moving down the production line. Although based in Irvine, California, this decidedly green vision of creative whiz Henrik Fisker will be assembled in Finland at the Valmet Automotive operation -- which also builds the Boxster and Cayman for Porsche. Fisker's four-door luxo-exotic will be priced around $96,000 before any federal incentives. A company spokesperson admits that the initial Karma startup will be a slow and well-measured process, but that it expects to deliver around 7,000 units by the end of the year and ultimately up to 15,000 cars annually thereafter.
The bespoke Q-Drive hybrid powertrain in the aluminum-intensive Fisker Karma was designed by Quantum Technologies. Key components include a pair of axially-positioned 150kW (201 hp) electric motors that send motive force to the rear wheels, a centrally-mounted 20kWh lithium-ion battery pack and a turbocharged 2.0-liter/four-cylinder GM Ecotec gasoline engine under the hood that spins a secondary 170kW (228 hp) generator. Capable of traveling about 50 miles in pure EV mode, the four-passenger Karma can go another 250 mile on electricity created using its internal-combustion source. The Karma also can sprint from 0-60 mph in less than six seconds using all of its collective 403 horsepower -- and reach of top speed of 125 mph. Replenishing the battery pack with the car's 3.3kW on-board requires about six hours using a 220-240V line.