Unless you have been asleep for the last couple of years, you have probably heard that a California-based company called Fisker Automotive has purchased the old General Motors plant south of Wilmington and plans to start rolling out plug-in electric car beginning in late 2012. The first car, a sedan akin in size to the BMW 3 series or Mercedes C Class, will be priced around $50,000. This plant will put Delaware squarely in the middle of the revolutionary new technology powering the cars we drive.
While you wait for the Delaware produced car, this summer Fisker will launch its first vehicle, the Karma. If you would you like to drive a fast (0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds), sporty, luxury sedan that runs on plug-in rechargeable batteries and also includes a range extending gasoline engine for those times when waiting to five hours or so to charge the batteries would crimp your style, then the Karma may be the right choice for you. Pricing for the Karma starts at about $96,000 and tops out at about $110,000 (a federal tax credit of $7500 should be available). The Karma is assembled in Finland, although production may eventually shift to Delaware.
Will the Karma and Fisker Automotive succeed? The auto journalists from publications like Car & Driver that have driven the Karma have given it a resounding thumbs-up.
Unlike those auto journalists, I am certainly biased as I work for the company that will sell the Fisker in Delaware. I believe Fisker will likely succeed because its visionary leaders, Henrik Fisker and Bernhard Koehler, are both veteran car designers who understand the need for compelling design—the wow factor. The Fisker Karma has a low-slung Ferrari or Lamborghini look with deeply sculpted hips; it stands out in a crowd.
Fisker pairs its focus on design with a passion for new technology. The Karma will be the first (it’s good to be first, as we know) luxury sport sedan on the market with electric plug-in technology coupled with a range extending gasoline engine, so you can continue driving after the batteries run out of charge in about 50 miles, eliminating the range anxiety associated with solely electric vehicles (the Chevy Volt uses a similar powertrain). Fisker also focuses on environmentally responsible features (they are from California), such as using only wood reclaimed from Lake Michigan or from trees that fell during storms or wildfires in California. The Karma’s roof is made of solar panels that help power the climate control system—very cool.
Keep an eye on the Fisker plant over the next year as they gear up to start production. The latest horseless carriage rolling off its assembly lines will be unlike anything we have ever seen.
Vice President of Union Park Automotive Group in Wilmington.