Tesla Has New Competition

Look out Tesla, here comes Fisker

By Scott Budman
|  Saturday, Jul 25, 2009  |  Updated 4:21 PM CDT
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Eco-Chic Karma Takes Hybrid to New Levels

fiskerautomotive.com

Drive a Fisker, and keep the sky blue. As long as you have a whole bunch of green.

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Karma Kranks it up

Karma has been called a monster before. But rarely has a monster been this beautiful.
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Karma has been called a monster before.  But rarely has a monster been this beautiful.

Jumping into the environmentally-friendly-but-still-sexy automotive waters, Fisker launched what it hopes will be its Tesla killer in front of a sympathetic and eager Silicon Valley audience.  Called the "Karma," and coming in both a 4-door sedan and (a year later) a convertible version, Fisker, which is actually based in Orange County, took its launch party to the far more liberal confines of Tesla's home court.

The Karma, I should mention, is not entirtely powered by electricity.  Heresy, perhaps, to those who have ponied up the six figures necessary to roll in a Tesla Roadster, but Fisker begs for a moment of your consideration.  The plug-in hybird model, they claim, actually uses a smaller battery (so your car will go faster), and although there are occasional emmissions when your gas kicks in, even that doesn't happen for the first 50 miles you drive. 

And, the Tesla doesn't have a completely solar-paneled sun roof.  Eerily smooth and rounded, the roof of the 4-door Karma is covered in solar panels that will actually cool and power you car.  Says Fisker CEO Henrik Fisker, "you can either press a button to cool the car, or, another button where the car actually charges." 

If you think about it, the niche car market is starting to get crowded.  Smart Car, Tesla, Fisker, and assorted others all trying to carve out a chance for your automotive dollar.  And, while each is interesting and arguably worthy of consideration, it's still a horrendous time to be trying to draw attention to a rather expensive (The Karma will run you about $80,000 - less than the Tesla Roadster, but more than Tesla's soon to be released 4-door sedan) new kind of car.  With dealers closing left and right, is the potential car buyer really ready to step up and spend MORE money to try something new and untested?

I'd like to think that, eventually, many of us would be willing to spend a little more (OK, a lot more) to know that we can drive without harming the planet as much.  But let's be honest, 80 thousand dollars is a big leap to take, even if we weren't in a recession.  And if Toyota and Honda didn't each just release new hybrid cars for much, much less.  Oh, and the convertible?  Super sexy, but it's gonna cost even more.

Fisker is onto something, and I'd be happy to cruise around looking around for plug-in stations instead of gas stations.  But to spend more than three times what I paid for my 4-door sedan .. for another 4-door sedan?  it's gotta do more than just make me feel better about the environment.

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