Monday, January 14, 2008

Fisker Karma

The latest entrant is expected to be announced today at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit when Fisker Automotive Inc. unveils an $80,000 battery-powered luxury car it aims to begin delivering in late 2009. The Fisker Karma, a so-called plug-in hybrid, can go 50 miles on electricity before a small gasoline engine kicks in to generate electricity to charge a lithium-ion battery pack on board.

Mr. Fisker's vision is to sell 15,000 electric cars a year. Mr. Fisker said the Karma is environmentally responsible and capable of going 125 miles per hour, consistently. It can hit a speed of 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, equivalent to the performance of a gasoline-powered V8 sports sedan, he said.

The car features cutting-edge plug-in hybrid technology, penned as Q DRIVE, developed by Quantum Technologies exclusively for Fisker Automotive. The Karma's Q DRIVE configuration consists of a small gasoline engine that turns the generator, which charges the lithium ion battery pack, powering the electric motor and turning the rear wheels.
Definitely a hot looking car. I like the idea of using high end cars to introduce new technologies, especially new environmental technologies. They are high priced, so not many of them sell, but they allow for the research and development to take place. Then when the technology is worked out it can be transferred to lower end cars that are mass produced.

Unlike the Prius (but like the Volt), the gasoline engine does not power the car directly, but rather just generates electricity to power the electric motor. I don't understand the pros and cons of the two setups. I guess I should look into that further. I would like to also understand the pros and cons of this setup vs. the all electric system of Tesla.

There isn't much technical information available (at least compared to Tesla's site) which makes me skeptical of their viability. Hopefully there will be a working model and more information soon to dispel my worries.

Things I am curious about:
1) How large is the battery?
2) How long does it take to recharge?
3) How many kWh per mile does it get off of the batteries?
4) What kind of MPG does it get when running off of gasoline?
5) How fast can it go when running just on gasoline if it only has a "small gasoline engine"?

via WSJ and CNN Money

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