Rare Rides: A Tale of Fisker Karma (Part II)


In Part I of our Fisker Karma Rare Rides trilogy, we learned of the technology and promise lying just beneath the swooping curves of the sedan’s seriously stylish body. Today we talk economy of fuel, space, and materials.

Fisker fit as much of the aforementioned technology into the Karma as humanly possible, and all the batteries, motors, solar panels, and earth-friendly materials took their toll. The first casualty was in fuel economy, as the EPA rated the Karma at 52 miles per gallon in pure EV mode, but just 20 mpg in internal combustion mode.

The second area of compromise was in the interior. As mentioned last time, the Karma only had room for four people due to the batteries running down its backbone. A tall tunnel inside the cabin limited passenger space to a great extent. So much so, that the EPA classified the car as a subcompact. All four cramped passengers added weight to a vehicle that tipped the scales at 5,300 pounds when it left the factory. That’s about 100 pounds shy of a 2018 Yukon Denali. At nearly 196 inches long and 78 inches wide, it had the length of a 1988 Cadillac DeVille, but an additional 7 inches in width.

Despite the Karma’s bulk, it was whisper quiet at around-town speeds. To help increase pedestrian-Fisker awareness, the company developed a new safety system: At speeds below 25 miles per hour, warning sounds played through speakers embedded within the bumper. The system also promised to improve the driver experience, but it’s unclear how.

Once the driver and passengers situated themselves in the snug cabin, they’d note the eco-friendly interior. Reclaimed wood ensured no trees were (recently) harmed for Karma production, and the leather for the seats included hides with scratches and other marks in order to use as much of each hide as possible. In a reversal of luxury norms, the top-trim EcoChic had a fabric interior and a manufactured suede dash, in keeping with the automaker’s animal-free promise.

At this point, things were humming along okay at Fisker — but the tranquility didn’t last. In the third and final installment of the Fisker Trilogy, we’ll delve into exactly what went wrong.

[Images: seller]