Far From the Mainstream – Fisker Karma

It’s Monday so all I can present to you is a four-year old fossil from what must be one of the shortest-lived car companies of recent years.

Death has a revolving door. 2012 Fisker Karma.

While the main theme of this series is an excursion through the obscure brands on sale, this is also a case of the dead rising again. No sooner had the lawyers finished off the outstanding ‘issues’ related to Fisker’s defunct firm than someone else dusted off the corpse, slapped on the make-up and lo, Karma Revero is born.

The short story goes like this: Fisker, electric car, Valmet production, whizz-whoff-zizz battery packs problems, bankrupt battery-maker, Fisker closes.

No effort spared to sell this €37,395 car, eh?
Screen shot from mobile.de. No effort spared to sell this €37,395 car, eh?

Valmet made the cars in their Finnish factory for a year. Fisker had one supplier for the batteries but the battery maker went bust. Then Fisker shut up shop. Thus ended part one of the tale.

The Karma had a range-extending power train. Two 120 kW electric motors had a lithium battery pack and power came from an A123 system power generator. That huge oblong in the middle of the interior hid the battery cluster. Under the long hood hid a 2.0 GM four-cylinder engine. If power ran down the engine could be brought in to provide motive force. The battery could also be charged from the mains so the Karma is a sort of PHEV. Note that the engine did not provide direct drive to the wheels. The whole lot weighed a whopping 2400 kg. Was it any good to drive?

Motor Trend thought so. Car and Driver noted understeer at the limits of grip and also said “Handling is a subject we can address with more confidence. The Karma’s steering is endowed with real road feel and linear turn-in response. The ride is supple, and there’s minimal body roll when you fling the wheel; the low-mounted, 600-pound battery pack makes for an effective keel. Even though the rear wheels carry 53 percent of the Karma’s mass, there’s understeer awaiting those who visit the borderlands of grip. The brakes are calibrated to convert excess momentum into the maximum amount of charging energy without inflicting pedal weirdness.”

2012 Fisker Karma interior: motor trend
2012 Fisker Karma interior: motor trend

Wanxiang now own the rights to the car and they ought to be on sale again around about now.

The Motor Trend photo shows the interior with an odd colour break up. I like the warm tones but not the spread of light tan from the centre to the sides of the seats. It confuses the forms, doesn’t it?

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

3 thoughts on “Far From the Mainstream – Fisker Karma”

  1. This may be the worst-packaged car ever. I tried both a Karma’s and an Aston Rapide’s rear seats, and the British car could almost be described as ‘commodious’ by comparison. And for what purpose? Comically exaggerated proportions and an ‘imposing’ stance? Why the four doors then?

    Well, at least Bob Lutz seems to like the concept.

    P.S.: The unusual colour break-up is endearing in the same way some 1980s ‘special edition’ cabins possessed a quaint charm. But classy it ain’t.

    1. Fisker evindently thought the car had to look really athletic and dramatic to make up for the high price? He could have packaged it like a Ford Mondeo or VW Passat – but then the critique would be that it looked boring. Four doors separated it somewhat from other two-door sports cars.

    2. Striking looks are fine with me – in fact, I like a bit of flamboyance and never minded Sir William’s lack of regard for packaging. But not only does the Karma make an XJ4 appear like a masterclass in space efficiency, it, above all, tries to unite too many conflicting intentions. It just doesn’t add up to a coherent whole.

      I’m no fan of the Tesla Model S’ timid looks either, but at least that car’s usable.

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