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First Drive Impressions: Fisker Karma EVer

Green  /   /  By Derek Mau


  • Electric motor has an output equivalent to 403 hp and 959 lb-ft torque, enough to tow space shuttles.
  • Stylish exterior is striking and screams, “Look at me!”
  • Exceptional ride, handling, and braking
  • Beautifully designed and chic interior is fashionably eco-friendly
  • Fisker Automotive is all-about being green and creating environmentally friendly cars


  • Lithium-ion battery pack mounted in center tunnel and intrudes upon cabin space
  • Poor visibility
  • Back seat is tighter than Sofia Vergara’s little black dress

Under gray skies we test drove some green cars at this year’s L.A. Auto Show. The most expensive and the one with the highest profile was the Fisker Karma EVer plug-in, extended-range electric vehicle. With a sticker price of $102,000, this luxury-class 400-horsepower four-seat plug-in hybrid is built to impress whether your admiring the unique lines from the outside or sitting inside the swanky cabin covered in animal-free, renewable and sustainable materials.

While the Fisker Karma is defined as a series hybrid, it is not your typical hybrid. Its powertrain is similar in concept to a Chevy Volt, but the Karma costs more than four times a Volt (excluding tax credits).

Under its stylish exterior, Karma’s Electric Vehicle extended range (EVer) system incorporates a generator that is driven by the gasoline engine to produce and maintain the high-voltage battery during cruising enabling the Karma to have a range of approximately 300 miles — up to 50 miles on electric power only and up to another 250 miles with assistance from the range-extending 2.0Lturbocharged direct-injection 4-cylinder GM engine that regenerates the lithium-ion batteries.

The electric drive is what makes the feel and ride of the Karma unique — way smoother and quieter in a fun, eerie way. Even the electric hum of the Karma has its own unique sound. At 5,400 pounds, the Karma is a heavy, heavy car but feels nicely balanced.

The steering is firm and precise; the car is planted firmly on 22-inch wheels and ultra-low profile tires. The Karma switches to gas-engine power when the batteries are nearly depleted. It’s a 260-hp General Motors four-cylinder turbocharged engine and the car gets noisier when the engine kicks in to assist with acceleration or recharging the batteries.

Acceleration is just over 6 seconds to 60 mph, about 1.5 seconds slower on electric power alone. Various testers have found mileage with the gasoline engine running to be around 25 mpg. With a tank of less than 10 gallons and only 20-40 miles of battery charge, you’re looking at a highway range of around 300 miles. Recharging the battery pack runs 16 hours on household current, about a third of that with a 220-volt charger.

There is a solar panel embedded in the roof to aid charging and a modest gain in battery range. The battery also charges during regenerative braking by using the kinetic energy of the traction motors during deceleration and braking.

The hybrid combination of a gasoline engine and a generator provide power to two electric traction motors for improved performance, reduced emissions, and improved fuel economy. The High-Voltage Electric system is the driving force behind the powertrain and not the internal combustion engine (which is used to generate electricity).

Fisker Automotive has had a couple bumps in the road getting their car to market, but that’s not going to stop them from continuing to make groundbreaking cars. We found the Fisker Karma to be an impressive electric vehicle and groundbreaking when it comes to the EV industry.

On eBay Motors we found 11 new and used Fisker Karmas on sale with an average price of $91,985.

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