Fisker Karma Claims 51.6-Mile Electric Range

By Scott Doggett November 7, 2011

Karman 51 MPG.jpg

Thumbing its nose at U.S. regulators who say its new Karma plug-in hybrid sports sedan delivers a mere 32 miles of all-electric range, Fisker Automotive has posted a notice on its website from Germany’s independent testing body  that claims the Fisker Karma achieved 51.6 miles on power from its batteries. The Technischer Ueberwachungs-Verein (TUV) released its finding after testing this month in Germany.  Irvine, California–based Fisker has claimed for several years that its $96,000 Karma extended range plug-in hybrid would be good for 50 miles of emissions-free travel before its gasoline generator would kick in. Company insiders were upset – although careful not to say so publicly – when the federal Environmental Protection Agency rated the Karma last month at just 32 miles in all-electric range after a full charge.

The German TUV (in English it’s the Technical Inspection Association) rating carries no weight in the United States. The official EPA widow sticker for the Karma – which went on sale late last month – will say that it delivers 32 miles of all-electric range and 20 miles per gallon with its turbocharged four-cylinder engine-generator running. The Fisker Karma’s fuel efficiency rating on combined city and highway driving is 52 mpg-equivalent. Because all-electric range is an important selling point for plug-in hybrids, Fisker is likely to cite the TUV rating every bit as often in its U.S. sales material as it does the EPA rating.

"We are delighted that the TUV has confirmed that most owners will achieve a 50 mile range running purely on electric during their daily commute," Fisker Automotive CEO and co-founder Henrik Fisker said in a statement. The company claimed that TUV carried out the most thorough tests yet of the Karma's real-world urban performance. "This is an independent process that measures every element of the Fisker Karma luxury plug-in hybrid's performance," it said. The company also noted that the Karma was awarded the highest possible score of 10 out of 10 for fuel economy and greenhouse-gas emissions on its label from the EPA.

Bested Buy Volt, Prius Plug-in
The Karma's EPA fuel efficiency numbers are lower than those of the market's other plug-in hybrids, including the range-extended Chevrolet Volt and the 2012 Prius Plug-In. The 402-horsepower Fisker, however, is larger, heavier, more powerful 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 doesn’t 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 well under  half the Fisker's price while the Toyota's $32,760 base price is about a third of the Fisker's.

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