In the world of electric vehicles, the Fisker Karma electric car is capturing attention from consumers and industry observers as an entrant in the gas/electric hybrid. Adding features such as luxury touches, four doors and rear-wheel drive and the Karma, from Finland, comes in as a "significantly redesigned", according to Consumer Guide Automotive.
Most of the media reports on this model indicate that the Karma will be presented in 2010 as a 2011 model. It is covered in the same reports as the Lexus LS, the S-Class from Mercedes and the BMW 7-Series. While the details of this specific car from Fisker were not yet presented in early 2010, there is plenty of information about the Quantum Hybrid edition that was shown at the 2008 industry show in Detroit.
This gas/electric combination vehicle was produced by Fisker Coachbuild in conjunction with Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies. As initially shown the Fisker hybrid offered a solar-roof option that could be installed at the factory. In addition, the Quantum Hybrid came with several charging options (110-volt home connection up to fast-charge with 220/240 volts).
Who is Fisker?
The man behind the vehicles is Henrik Fisker, portrayed as an ambitious entrepreneur in the same vein as Delorean and Tucker. Fisker was involved in the design and marketing of luxury vehicles for Aston Martin and BMW before starting his own company. His original idea was to produce a luxury hybrid sedan that would have a price tag in the $100,000 range.
In an extensive interview with Wired magazine, Fisker said he felt it was "the perfect time" for an "environmentally minded automaker". His company received a loan of more than $500 million from the United States Department of Energy, enough seed money to bring his company to life.
Fisker, a native of Denmark, stunned the automotive world in 2008 when he put a mock-up/shell of his hybrid on the floor at the 2008 show in Detroit. At the time he promised delivery by 2010 - a bit more than two years from the time he incorporated his company.
Big Plans, Big Ideas
Henrik Fisker, who appears to the world as a dashing, well-dressed young automotive executive, told one interviewer that his company would sell more cars than Porsche by the year 2016. As chief designer for the new company, Fisker said the combination of leading the design team and being chief executive allows him to choose a product direction and move more quickly than companies that must rely on a committee to make decisions.
One of the steps he avoids in product development is the experimental design and model for vehicles that will never be produced. Fisker feels this is a major advantage for small companies. In the Wired interview he characterized his company as "modern, fast and light". He wants the design process to take about two months, compared to a year at the larger, inefficient companies.
It Seems to Be Working
While Henrik Fisker might appear to be brash and even a bit unrealistic to some his work has already produced results. The company was recognized for business innovation after taking the wraps off of the Karma this year.
With an intended price tag of $87,900, the Karma brought the honors to Fisker Automotive during the American Business Awards program. The company currently has less than 100 employees and was recognized along with other innovators like Apple and computer software/technology company Mozilla.
Details on the Karma Hybrid include 100 miles-per-gallon efficiency with enough power to satisfy those who love the open road (403 horsepower). Emphasis is on producing a top-shelf vehicle that will find its way into the garages of the upper-middle class and above. Fisker worked with Bernhard Koehler on the design and worked in conjunction with Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies for power-train design and production. Quantum is widely recognized as a leader in the clean-fuel industry.
Fisker Karma Electric Cars - From the Outside
Henrik Fisker told interviewers at Wired that his company encourages suppliers to use his car designs as a "test bed" for new methods. When asked if this "outsourcing" makes Fisker Automotive a design company rather than a car-production company, the CEO said that assessment was inaccurate. He emphasized the number of parts needed to manufacture any car (3,500 for the Fisker Karma electric car). To Fisker, integration is crucial. Cooperation with suppliers is as well.
Saving money is one of the key benefits of starting small and remaining small in the automotive industry, according to Fisker. His business projections show a profit after the sale of only 15,000 vehicles because he uses very few design engineers compared to the larger companies.
Fisker only plans to build 15,000 vehicles in the first phase of his growth plans. The company has purchased a Delaware factory site that will be devoted to producing the next generation of automobiles from this startup company. Fisker plans to market to an entirely different segment of the population with his second vehicle. This car will have a sticker price that is less than half the cost of a Karma luxury sedan.
This second vehicle will have a much wider customer base, Fisker said. He expects to produce as many as 100,000 lower-priced vehicles by the year 2013.
But there's more!
He told Wired that the company will offer six distinct models by 2016, all of them targeted toward the future of automobile transportation.
Outside the Lines
If there is a way to think outside the normal guidelines of vehicle production, Henrik Fisker is probably going to do it. Should the company achieve the goals set for 2013 and 2016 it would be a bigger player in the automotive market than another producer of luxury automobiles, Porsche.
Fisker doesn't see this as a problem at all. He believes that car companies can and should design, produce and grow just as any other modern business does. Fisker is presented as a green-auto company, of course. But it is also a maker of top-shelf products that will have a somewhat limited customer list.
Yet Fisker believes this won't be a problem for his young company. The waiting list for the Karma Hybrid already has nearly 2,000 names on it!
I hope you find this article about Fisker Karma electric cars useful!