The Fisker Karma luxury plug-in hybrid electric car (PHEV) is the all-electric Tesla Model S' biggest competitor. After raising $85 million in funding for the car's development from Eco Drive Partners LLC and venture capital company Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, & Byers, it's looking more and more like the Karma will hit its projected release date of late 2009—beating the Model S by over a year.
While the Karma's $87,000 price tag is significantly higher than the Model S' $57,400, Tesla sued Fisker last year for stealing Model S technology. Tesla paid Henrik Fisker to work on the Model S, and then claimed that Fisker kept his best ideas for the Karma.
Whether the fruits of that theft pay off will be revealed when the 2010 Karma, expected to be the first PHEV to market, rolls off the assembly line. Fisker was absolved of any wrongdoing, and an arbitrator ruled that the case was baseless.
The 2010 Karma, which is expected to be the first PHEV to market, can drive 50 miles on lithium-ion batteries that can be charged from any 110 or 240 dual-volt outlet. After 50 miles, a gas engine kicks in and starts a generator that powers the car for another 250 miles. The car can satisfy speed demons, too, with a top speed of 125 MPH and the ability to go zero to 60 in 5.8 seconds.
If you're itching to get your hands on the car, Fisker has lined up a list of U.S. dealers in locations like Miami, Florida; San Antonio, Texas; and Orange County, California. Pre-orders are now being accepted on Fisker's website.