Fisker Karma Gets Lower EPA RatingBy John O'Dell October 19, 2011
Fisker Automotive got a lot of press over the last few years claiming that its exotic Fisker Karma range-extended plug-in hybrid would deliver 50 miles of all-electric range. Now the official EPA rating for the car is out and the number falls far below that claim. The official numbers the $96,000 Karma (above) will wear on its window sticker are 52 miles per gallon-equivalent (mpg-e) in combined city and highway driving. This includes 32 miles of all-electric range, and 20 mpg when its gasoline engine/generator kicks in to provide electricity once the cars lithium-ion battery pack is drained. The Karmas EPA rating prompted conservative Fox News to post an item on its Web site suggesting the Karma is a fuel economy flop.
Indeed, the Karma fuel efficiency numbers are lower than those of the markets other plug-in hybrids, the range-extended Chevrolet Volt and the 2012 Prius Plug-In. The 402-horsepower Fisker, however, is larger, heavier and has much larger electric motors than the other two. Still the disparities in fuel economy -- especially as the Chevrolet and Toyota plug-ins also cost far less than the Karma -- are sure to start figuring into dealership marketing programs. The 2012 Chevy Volt is EPA-rated at 60 miles per gallon-equivalent overall with a 37-mile all-electric range and a 37-mpg rating when its flex-fuel gasoline/E85 engine-generator is running. Toyota estimates that the 2012 Prius Plug-In -- which doesnt have a range extending generator and uses its gas engine for propulsion -- will get an EPA rating of 87 mpg-e and will deliver up to 14 miles of all-electric range. At $39,995 the 2012 Volt starts at less than half the Fiskers price while the Toyotas $32,760 base price is about a third of the Fiskers.
Fisker Automotive CEO and co-founder Henrik Fisker refused to be dismayed by the EPA rating, saying in a statement released by the company that hes confident many Karma drivers will get better fuel economy than that computed in the EPA test. As with all electric vehicles, range varies greatly on the conditions of the road and how you drive the car, Fisker said. The 2012 Karmas 52 mpg-e rating is close to the 54.5 mpg fleet average that the Obama administration wants the auto industry to be delivering in 2025, 14 years from now, he said, insisting that the EPA ratings,verify the Karmas remarkable green credentials. A Karma driven 40 miles daily, the company said, would use just 9 gallons of gasoline a month if the car began each day with a fully charged battery. Overall, we are very pleased with the results of the EPAs tests, Fisker said.
Because cars cant be sold in the United States until their EPA fuel economy ratings are issued, Fisker had been stockpiling U.S.-spec Karmas (the car is sold globally) at the New Jersey plant it is outfitting for Nina production. With the release of the EPA rating, deliveries of the cars began this week, the company said. Fisker told AutoObserver that it had more than 200 of the U.S. cars awaiting delivery to customers. Given the Karmas market slot as a high-performance exotic aimed at buyers who likely already have Corvettes, Ferraris and other high-end, high-performance vehicles in their garages, the fuel economy numbers arent likely to put a damper on sales, but they could fuel critics in Congress who have opposed federal aid to nascent manufacturers of advanced technology cars.
Fisker Automotive received a $529 million federal loan guarantee last year. Most of that funding is being used on the companys follow-up to the Karma, Fiskers project Nina line of smaller, less expensive range-extended plug-in hybrids due in 2013. Fisker also showed a sport wagon version of the Karma, the Karma Surf, at the recent Frankfurt Auto Show and said it would be in production as a 2013 model.