Luxury and hybrid? Fisker expanding options

You need more than karma to get into the driver’s seat of a Fisker Karma. It currently costs about $96,000 for the basic model.

Fisker Automotive, which manufactures luxury plug-in electric hybrid cars, has raised an extra $100 million in its third round of funding to help fund production of its luxury sedan and a second, cheaper electric car that is geared toward more mainstream hybrid electric car buyers.

The Karma sedan is actually a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, similar to the Chevy Volt manufactured by General Motors. It carries around a 20 kilowatt lithium-ion battery that will extend the range of the car and make it more fuel-efficient. It has an effective fuel efficiency of around 100 miles per gallon, according to the company, and can travel up to 300 miles before needing to refuel. The internal combustion engine kicks in after 50 miles of use on the electric motors — similar to the Volt, which can travel between 25 and 50 miles before the internal combustion engine kicks in.

But the price tag and the target audience means Fisker Automotive’s Karma sedan basically goes toe-to-toe with the Tesla Roadster, another extravagantly priced electric car designed for high-end buyers.

Like Tesla Motors, the company is also working on a cheaper electric car — a plug-in hybrid sedan called the Nina. That car should retail for somewhere between $35,000 and $50,000. The Nissan Leaf, one of the cheaper plug-in electric cars, retails for around $37,000, while Tesla Motors’ Model S electric sedan will retail for around $57,000 before government incentives for buying an electric car.

The company is backed by Kleiner Perkins, as well as New Enterprise Associates and A123 Systems Inc. Fisker Automotive raised $190 million just two months ago to help fund the production of its electric cars.  


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