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Exterior Design: Striking and Elegant
four-passenger 2012 Fisker Karma is an elegant sedan with a coupe-like silhouette. It has a
distinctly athletic presence highlighted by a long hood and short rear deck, a
low roofline, wide stance, pronounced fender lines and 22-inch wheels. An
exceptionally long dash-to-axle proportion gives a sense of power and presence.
The 2012 Karma is built on a long 124-inch (3,160 mm) wheelbase (about the same
as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class), yet short overhangs keep overall length to 196.7
inches (4,996 mm), or about the length of a Mercedes-Benz CLS. The exterior
dimensions are nearly identical to those of the original Fisker Karma concept
Standing just 53.4-inches (1,330 mm) tall, the Karma is only
slightly higher than a Porsche 911. Combined with wide track dimensions, the
result is a low-slung, timeless profile, the kind that has defined classic
sports cars for decades. It is a stance meant to convey power and performance,
even when the car is standing still. Inside, the Karma provides room and
comfort for the driver and three passengers.
Also retained from the
original concept car is the world's largest automotive solar roof panel. The
compound curved, monolithic panel conveys the car's advanced technology and
environmental purpose while also capturing energy from sunlight to effectively
extend the car's electric range, absolutely cost- and emissions-free.
addition, the production Karma keeps the concept car's carefully integrated
parting lines around the front and rear fascias, along with the industry's
tightest tire-to-wheel arch relationship. The most significant visible exterior
change from the concept car is the addition of B-pillars, which increase the
Karma's structural rigidity and help it meet global crash-protection
Unique to the segment is the absence of external window
frames between rear side-glass panes, which improves aesthetics and reduces wind
Another unique feature of the 2012 Fisker Karma is its optional Diamond Dust paint.
This world first contains a 35- to 55-percent recycled glass flake mixture, and
the water-based paint process does not release any volatile organic compounds
(VOCs). This luxurious paint option also leads the industry in reflectivity,
shine and gloss.
Interior: Classic Meets Cutting Edge
Fisker Automotive operates by its Sustainable and Accountable Design
philosophy. Understanding that environmental responsibility extends far beyond
zero tailpipe emissions, Fisker designers and engineers examine each and every
part and system to find a cleaner, smarter or less impactful solution. This
extends to design and materials inside the Karma.
As in the original
concept car, the production Karma has a four-seat cockpit with a large center
console running from the dashboard to the rear seatback. Fisker designers took inspiration from
both nature and classic sports cars to craft the Karma's interior. In the
application of user technology, a key design goal was to give the Karma an
elegantly simple dashboard with a minimum of buttons and knobs.
California's storied car culture played a role; designers studied some of the
most exclusive cars at the Pebble Beach Concours d' Elegance to bring a classic
feel to the Karma's cabin. For example, the chrome bezels surrounding the
digital instrumentation were inspired by the jewel-like gauges in these cars, as
well as the finest Swiss timepieces.
"While the overall composition of
the interior adheres to classic design guidelines, the instrumentation,
controls, and the Karma's user interface all give a fully modern experience,"
said CEO Henrik Fisker.
The gauge panel consists of three separate LCD
screens, one each for the speedometer (left), the center information display and
the power gauge (right). There is no tachometer, since engine speed in the
traditional sense is irrelevant to the Karma driver. There is no glass covering
the gauges - you can touch them.
As an indicator of the level of detail
Fisker designers applied, the background pattern in the gauges was inspired by
the "Golden Mean," a precise, natural ratio that has mystified artists and
designers for centuries, and which the human eye finds naturally pleasing.
The Karma's power meter shows power consumption when accelerating, or
generation when decelerating or braking. Notably, when driving in Stealth mode,
the gauge colors are softer than when driving in Sport mode.
lead the luxury category by offering an interior trimmed in the customer's
choice of sumptuous leather or completely animal-free materials. All series
feature EcoLucent inserts made with non-toxic, transparent material from 40%
post-industrial recycled content.
'Bridge of Weir Low Carbon Leather '
for the mid-line EcoSport model is prepared in the world's first
energy-self-sufficient, closed-loop leather manufacturing plant. Both gas and
electricity are generated on-site from by-products of the leather making
process, which itself is low-pigmentation and chrome-free. Hides are purchased
exclusively from suppliers that adopt the Five Freedoms set of principles for
humane animal treatment, and yield is the highest in the industry.
exclusive, top-line EcoChic series is animal-free, replacing leather with a
high-grade textile EcoSuede fabric made from 100% recycled post-industry virgin
material. The EcoLucent trim panel frames fossil-like Magnolia leaves within
the center console, a tasteful suggestion of environmental consciousness. This
is the most advanced, luxurious and sustainable automotive environment ever.
Luxury car drivers expect genuine wood interior trim, and the Karma
delivers. But instead of the industry standard of cutting down live trees from
rain forests and artificially treating wood panels, Fisker sought sources of
reclaimed wood in the United States. The Karma's three different trim lines
offer three distinct kinds of reclaimed wood. No live growth is ever used.
The Fisker Karma is
the first and only true production Electric Vehicle with extended range (EVer).
Simply put, that means the Karma is driven solely and at all times by electric
traction motors. An on-board range-extending gasoline engine drives a generator
to power the motors as needed; there is no mechanical link between the
internal-combustion engine and the drive wheels.
This exclusive EVer powertrain was inspired by a high-performance stealth vehicle created for U.S.
Military special operations. At its heart is a 20 kWh rechargeable lithium-ion
battery developed by Fisker Automotive's strategic partner A123 Systems of
Watertown, Massachusetts. State-of-the-art Nanophosphate technology maximizes
energy, power, reliability and safety.
Running on the battery alone -
which can be charged from an available 220V Fisker wall charger in about six
hours - the Karma can cover 50 miles (80 km). After that, the range extender - a
front/mid-mounted gasoline engine/generator set - provides another 250 miles of
range by supplying current to the dual rear-mounted electric motors, for a total
range of 300 miles (483 km).
The Fisker Karma contributes to
sustainability even when parked, with the world's largest and most powerful
automotive solar panel integrated into its roof, as standard. It is the only
solar installation on a production vehicle that collects energy to be stored.
Enough energy can be collected by the roof over the course of a year to power
the Karma for nearly 200 cost- and emission-free miles.
The Fisker Karma is also the first and only car that allows the
driver to manually select all-electric or hybrid-electric drive modes on demand.
The default Stealth mode maximizes efficiency, giving the car its greatest range
on battery power before activating the gas engine-driven generator to sustain
battery charge. In Stealth mode, the Karma can accelerate from zero to 60 mph
in 7.9 seconds and achieve a top speed of 95 mph (153 km/h).
telling of the Karma's acceleration capability and feel, however, is the massive
981 lb.-ft. (1,330 Nm) of peak torque available instantaneously (from zero
rpm). By comparison, most conventionally-powered luxury sedans develop less
than half of that torque and at a much higher rpm. Because the Karma is always
driven by its electric motors and a single-ratio transmission/differential
combination, the driver can always feel and enjoy powerful, seamless, linear
A single pull on the Karma's left-hand steering wheel
paddle engages Sport mode. Now the gasoline engine drives the generator to
provide additional current that supplements that from the battery. This is
enough electricity for 403 total system horsepower, allowing the Karma to
accelerate from zero to 60 mph in just 5.9 seconds and achieve a top speed of
125 mph (201 km/h).
Sport mode conserves, and in
certain circumstances replenishes, battery charge. The driver can switch back to
Stealth mode at any time; this can be useful when arriving in low-emission
zones, which are being designated in many cities around the world.
Karma also features a fully-blended regenerative braking system. Regenerative
braking captures kinetic energy that would otherwise be wasted as brake-rotor
heat, and feeds it back into the battery. Using the right-hand steering wheel
paddle, the driver can operate Hill Mode to vary regenerative braking effect in
three steps; this unique function provides an effect similar to downshifting a
conventional car's transmission to offer varied levels of speed control. Hill
Mode is ideal for downhill grades and can be used to shorten braking distances.
World Class Ride and Handling
In all aspects of performance, the
Fisker Karma is designed to be a true driver's car, one dedicated to the concept
of Pure Driving Passion. Its proprietary, advanced aluminum space frame
incorporates new levels of rigidity and strength that give the Karma world-class
ride and handling characteristics.
Fisker Automotive's engineering team
designed the Karma's space frame around the car's unique EVer powertrain,
filing for multiple patents in the process.
Housing the car's battery
pack in a structural tunnel running down the car's centerline helps endow the
Karma with a very low center of gravity, and also contributes to the car's ideal
As a result, the Karma drives more like a midsize
sport sedan than a full-size luxury sedan. In addition, the Karma does not need
expensive, complex and power-robbing suspension aids to deliver flat cornering.
The four-wheel independent SLA suspension, also employing aluminum
components, has been specially tuned to work with the first standard 22-inch
aluminum wheels on a production car.
The Fisker-designed Circuit Blade
wheels first appeared on the original concept vehicle in 2008.
Electro-hydraulic, variable-ratio and variable-assist power steering is tuned
for optimum control and feel.
The Karma's space frame also forms the
foundation of occupant safety - and protection for the sealed batteries -
helping the luxury sedan to exceed global crash protection standards.
Eight advanced airbags, Antilock Brakes (ABS), traction control (TCS),
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Panic Brake Assist (PBA) are all part of
Brembo 6-piston monoblock front brakes and 4-piston rear
brakes provide incredible stopping power, bolstered by the regenerative braking.
Fisker Karma: Photo Gallery, Review (1/2) and Specifications