Fisker Picks GM for Karma Engine

Fisker Automotive announced plans today to use a four-cylinder General Motors (s GM) engine in its Fisker Karma, a four-door plug-in hybrid shown in prototype at the Detroit auto show back in January. The gas-powered engine would kick in on trips exceeding the electric battery’s 50-mile range, according to the company. Fisker, helmed by former Aston Martin designer Henrik Fisker and backed by venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, has plowed steadily ahead in recent months with financing rounds and an assembly contract (not to mention a legal victory). GM’s plant shutdowns and intensifying financial troubles, however, could present it with some speed bumps to its Karma engine plans.

Earlier this month, Fisker signaled an intent to raise its profile in Motor City by announcing plans to open a research and development office in Pontiac, Mich. Today the company said it is considering additional GM components for the Karma. But talks with the automaker began long before Corporate Jetgate emerged, Fisker spokesperson Sylvia Navarro told us today. Still, she stressed that Henrik Fisker believes GM “will be around for a long time” (not if Brian McConnell has his way) and that it “makes excellent hybrid components.”

Since Fisker expects to deliver only about 100 cars by the end of next year (and even that figure is ambitious), GM’s biggest coup in the deal could be practice with a more streamlined operation focused on green technology. For Fisker, a few delays might be good: They could give its partner time to lose the jets and rev the hybrid component engines.