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10 Questions for the Karma's Henrik Fisker

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For a while, Tesla’s Roadster was pretty much the only really sleek electric sports car making the rounds in the Valley. That ended when Henrik Fisker’s Fisker Automotive unveiled the Karma, a swanky electric sedan with an $80,000 price tag, and said the company had received backing from well-known venture firm Kleiner Perkins. Since then we’ve wanted to catch up with the car designer and entrepreneur behind the plan, and Fisker obliged us with these 10 questions:


Earth2Tech: The Fisker Karma will be a series hybrid like the Volt. Why did the company choose this technology as opposed to a parallel hybrid or an all-electric car?

Henrik Fisker: We chose the plug-in hybrid technology because it brings you the best of both the gasoline engine and the pure electric. When you plug in our car everyday you then can go 50 miles on pure electric. The big difference to a normal hybrid is that the Karma will stay in pure electric and, therefore, zero emissions for the first 50 miles. The advantage over a pure electric car is that, just like a gasoline car, we have no range limitation. After having passed the 50 miles on pure electric, you can fill the car up at a gas station and go as far as you want, which is the ultimate freedom, which cars are about.

E2T: What battery company will Fisker use for the Karma? There’s been rumors about Advanced Lithium Power, and having the batteries built in British Columbia; can you comment on those?

HF: We have not disclosed at this point what batteries we are using. It is still confidential for competitive reasons.

E2T: After watching Tesla get its Roadster to market this year and now start work on the White Star, is there anything you have learned from Tesla’s mistakes or successes?

HF: We do not compare ourselves to other startup companies. We believe we are a different type of startup, as all of our people come from the automotive industry and have extensive experience with the automotive industry. We are therefore taking a different approach, knowing how complicated it is to bring a vehicle to the market.

E2T: Fisker is backed by VC firm Kleiner Perkins. Why do you think venture firms are becoming more eager to invest in electric vehicle startups? And does that mean Al Gore is going to be a customer?

HF: I believe that there is great interest venture capital firms to invest into green technologies because they are able to make a lot of money as well as doing something good for the environment. That is a win-win. At this point, we have a lot of interesting customers and we are sure that a lot of politicians would select our car if they want to have the most stylish, innovative and greenest car to drive.

E2T: What do you think of the future of biofuels?

HF: Biofuel is an interest niche, however it still does not have an available infrastructure and you are still polluting to a certain extent.

E2T: The Karma sedan is priced at $80,000. Tesla’s White Star sedan is priced around $50,000 and will have a series hybrid version. The Volt, last time I checked came in around $40,000. What is a customer getting for that extra money?

HF: Just like today, we have low-end cars like Kia and Hyundai and mid-range cars like Volkswagen and Chevy and high-end cars like BMW, Audi and Fisker. Our customer gets an extraordinary design, very high quality and performance that no other four-door luxury sports plug-in hybrid will offer – 125 mph top speed; zero to 60 in less than six seconds and sports-car handling.

E2T: I’ve read the company is looking to outsource construction of the vehicle, possibly in Detroit. Have you narrowed your decision down, and who are you looking at?

HF: We are not ready to announce our production site as we are in the middle of final negotiations.

E2T: You’ve designed your share of non-green cars. What’s different about designing for the eco-consumer?

HF: The difference between designing a non-green car and designing for the eco-consumer is that we almost have to go beyond what the expectation is when it comes to the looks of the vehicle. At Fisker Automotive we are trying to redefine the consumer’s impression of green cars, which today is that they are small, uncomfortable and quirky-looking. With the Fisker Karma, we designed a car which is more dramatic and stylish than any current normal 4-door sports sedan to make a point that green can be beautiful and can be sexy.

E2T: What are the biggest barriers for venture-backed electric vehicle startups?

HF: The car business is a very cash-intensive business and is also the most regulated product in the marketplace. Therefore, you need a lot of funding and highly qualified people who understand the car business.

E2T: Do you see the auto industry as your partner or are you looking to be a disruptive force (or is Detroit a frenemy)?

HF: We are looking to start a new wave of eco-chic green cars and place ourselves as a leader in the green car luxury market. We have absolutely no problem working together with large OEMs in the future.

9 Responses to “10 Questions for the Karma's Henrik Fisker”

  1. Green energy is definitely the best solution in most cases. Technology like solar energy, wind power, fuel cells, zaps electric vehicles, EV hybrids, etc have come so far recently. Green energy even costs way less than oil and gas in many cases.

  2. mehran

    Dear Sir
    This is Mehran Mahsafar mechanical Student of automobile in Iran, after a year and half research in pneumatic systems (air compress), system functions and power supply motors and power transfer systems (movement-speed-power-full stop) in automobiles, I have designed a mechanized automobile based on compressed Air and Air Magnet and Air rechargeable (from movement to full stop) with 100% function better than (gasoline – gas – hydrogen – alcohol and rechargeable batteries).
    Note: As you know MVM and its professional groups has designed pneumatic pistons with some mistakes in their egg shaped cars that needs about (2-3 hours) charge of air and it uses gasoline in necessary cases and some other problems that caused them to avoid for design and make them public. One of these faults is in Air escape of motor and the way they design the piston of motor with a little bit changes in the air based motor and injection of air (course car) and as a result a heavy motor with a law radioman has a big distance with automobile industry revolution of air compressing automobiles. I have ability to design and produce of all kinds of (cars-trucks-motorcycles- trains-boats and any cars that float in the water) with 5 different models and designs of pneumatic-air dynamic-magnet and rechargeable magnet (force injection of recycling air in motor and temporarily with filling of the air in capsules) without any need to petrol, in one of my latest designs there is no need to Motor or Gear box and the energy transfer Line makes ability for movement and air revolving in automobile removes the need for any expensive petrol in car and I believe that this project will bring the clean air and solving the problem of air pollution and lots financial benefits for you and this will be the phenomenon of the 2009.
    In one of my projects I can design a pomp that stores the compressed air and can use instead of CNG and Gasoline pumps and in mehrpnumatic the initial press in capsule is made and after that the capsule with Turbo or Super magnetic fans in 2ways works and will be saved in the automobile air store capsule for magnet pistons that with atmospheric or deaf springs will generate the power for air production and steady circulation of it that cause for movement of car and over drive in desert and mountains (Magnet rechargeable magneto). The main aim is producing the power in air store capsule with fully detachable and semi detachable two side and one side capsules.
    5 projects:
    1- Pneumatic motors with rechargeable capsule force by recycling of the air and development of MVM project (electricity and magneto), gearbox by your request, and the radioman volume is completely different from pneumatic motors and can be used in overdrive and over motors in mountains.
    2- Helix Motors with saving air that can be designed with gear box, power supply (high power compress)
    3- The latest design of Roto motor with direct force – Gear box omission with compressed air design, Vankel horizontal motor vertical.
    4-Motor, Gearbox omission (Air Capsules are generator of power with magnetic vacuums with a perpetual energy transfer line is used in city or roads for independent running of each wheels – forward running – the back wheels running or Variomatic weight which is used in boats in land or sea – moving system in sea-a) locust or direct jet form (it is a expensive but attractive classic design)
    In this design and plans we could use variomatic cincture and some other ways.
    Note: In all of these automobiles rechargeable force and electricity or battery (hybrid system) magneto or electricity generator is with brake and coolers – hitters and air conditioners – opening and closing of the doors and suspension of the back and front -Gearbox and clutch could be changed pneumatic by the least charge and for tenderness of them we could use Hydro pneumatic. For Train – Boat – Motorcycle and bicycle pneumatic plans are ready by me.
    If you were interested all of the security systems and control of the automobile could be done by Electronic Micro switches that sends signals to EC4 and software that controls the whole movement of the car even without any driver in it and just with a case nearby.
    If you were interested in my cases, please be in hurry till we get the industrial revolution of automobiles in the world.
    Note: all of my plans and graphs for motors are ready but for material which is used in motors you must be patient somehow.
    I believe on my plans and my aim is not just money because the vital purpose is the revolution in motor industry and air pollution that is cause by fuels. The latest product in motor car by me is the one that needs just air for movement and air capsules generator of power and Hybrid generators (emergency fortifier)
    Mixairca=> aRF(s/T)G(h/d)
    In this automobile all of Power transfer line, chassis suspension and capsules and clutches and all of the movement to full stop is in pneumatic form..
    Best regards

    Email: [email protected]
    [email protected]

    Tel: 00984113361662 – 00984113361562 – 00984612340410
    Fax: 00984113361762
    Mobile: 00989144619713 – 00989143613398 – 00989355791984
    My Tabriz address: Hamayesh Co. fifth floor- Ateba building – next to Pasarghad bank – Abresan Sq – Tabriz – Iran
    My Khoy address: No 37- Ghorghdel Ave. – kouchari St. -Khoi –Azarbayjan gharbi – Iran.

  3. “After having passed the 50 miles on pure electric, you can fill the car up at a gas station and go as far as you want…”

    Correction: after having passed the 50 miles on pure electric, if you don’t have gas in the tank, you’re up shit creek and you’re pushing your car to the nearest gas station.