Fisker Auto Challenging Tesla with Second Hybrid-Electric Sedan

May 21st, 2008 BY njkaters | 1 Comment

Fisker Automotive is making a move in the hybrid-electric sedan market with a round of new funding that will commence in June 2008. Henrik Fisker has been negotiating with investors in Europe and Dubai to raise $65 million for production of a second generation of the company’s Karma four-door sedan. The company would increase its holdings beyond the $25 million raised to this point in an effort to push Tesla Motors for customers interested in luxury cars.

The 2010 Fisker Karma is priced at $80,000 though Henrik Fisker wants this price to drop to $40,000 by the 2014 model year. The current Karma is an impressive vehicle with a sleek body and luxury accessories that appeal to drivers of BMW, Mercedes and Infiniti sedans. The Karma reaches 60 miles per hour from a dead stop within 5.8 seconds and achieves a top speed of 125 miles per hour.

The main reason why Fisker Automotive is counting on new funding is an effort to reduce the price of research and development. Fisker has kept development, testing and production of its lithium-ion battery in-house instead of collaborating with outside manufacturers. The Fisker battery uses one large compartment instead of multiple cells to help drivers avoid overheating. Fisker’s use of a traditional gas engine means that the proprietary battery is not taxed through regular use that supports the company claim that the Karma can drive up to 50 miles on electric power.

The company will use some of the funding to improve onboard computers that manage battery and engine temperature. Fisker has said that onboard software developed by the company’s designers is critical to ensuring fuel efficiency and thermal control. The decreased costs for software development and installation would be passed onto consumers once manufacturing is scale appropriately.

Consumers should keep high-end producers like Fisker and Tesla in the back of their minds as they wait for truly clean vehicles. The Fisker Karma is akin to the Toyota Prius in terms of power and fuel efficiency but deviates in terms of financing. The Tesla Roadster is an innovative vehicle with a high price tag affordable only to celebrities and wealthy families. It is important for traditional automakers like Nissan, Toyota and Ford to continue work on alternative fuel vehicles due to the scalability of their operations. The Nissan Denki Cube and other vehicles will start out at lower prices than the Karma or the Roadster that make clean driving accessible to the general public.