The EPA rated the Karma at 52 mpge (mpg “equivalent” for EVs and hybrids, that is, for combined city/highway driving). The company had projected 100 mpge and still says it “firmly believes” you’ll get up to 50 miles on a charge. EPA says, no, you’re gonna get 32 miles on battery alone, and another 20 mpg when the gas-powered range extender kicks in. And probably a lot less driving in Sport mode.
The similarly powered Chevrolet Volt was rated at 94 mpge and costs $39,000. The Karma has three versions priced at $96,000-$109,000. “The top EcoChic edition is an animal-free showcase of high-end textiles, faux suede, and rescued California wildfire hardwood.” So says Car and Driver, while Volt drivers continue laughing.
We have talked about the Karma, its advantages and its problems in a number of posts, but this latest EPA news could play very much to the Volt’s advantage.
In its defense, we’ll say that the Karma is clearly a low-turnout (7,000 cars projected) luxury-exclusive machine, and it’s a beautiful car. In March, we said, “Every well-heeled greenie grandstander will want one.”
The car’s real competition will come from Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, et al., and most of these buyers will care less about real-time fuel economy and more about exclusivity.
As to performance, well, the Karma has almost 5,600 pounds of weight to haul around, so it does 0-60 mph in 6.3 seconds (in Sport mode, using more juice, of course). By comparison, the Benz CLS500 makes it in 5.1 seconds.
For some, there are political consequences to the EPA results. Fox News called it “a fuel economy flop” and pointed to the fact that the Karma was partially developed with a $529 million Department of Energy loan. Most of that money, as they point out, is going to develop the Nina, “a less expensive, higher volume model line.”
We can probably expect others in Congress to follow suit and make big noise about throwing money at high-end, high-tech carmakers. They have nothing else to do, right?
With EPA certification, Fisker can now begin to sell the Karma. How many do you think will be bought in 2012?