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Robert Trigaux

Electric Karma coming soon to Tampa dealer



Fisker_Karma006 Wake up and good morning. Demand for fuel-efficient vehicles may be slipping but auto makers are still pushing ahead with battery-powered cars. Here's one you've probably never even heard of, and it's coming to a dealer soon in Tampa. Just be prepared to shell out some big bucks.

This week, Fisker Automotive Inc. -- the maker of this luxury sports car, called Karma -- said it received $85 million in additional venture capital that will help the 18-month-old California start-up begin producing the car it has been developing. According to the Wall Street Journal (subscription required), Fisker hopes to sell 15,000 vehicles in 2010. (Photo courtesy of Fisker Automotive.)

Given the recession, the $2-a-gallon price of gas and the Karma's price tag, somebody's a real optimist. The Fisker Karma is a sleek sports car that is supposed to start at $87,900 and travel 50 miles on electrical power and for an additional 250 miles on a 2.0-liter gasoline engine before requiring refueling. The Irvine, Calif., company has orders for 1,300 vehicles, Fisker Automotive CEO Henrik Fisker told the Journal. Fisker Automotive was founded in 2007 by Fisker Coachbuild LLC and Quantum
. It is privately owned and backed by the well known Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Interestingly, it is also backed by the Qatar Investment Authority, an investment arm of the State of Qatar, an emirate located halfway down the west coast of the Arabian Gulf.

All this is happening while America fixates on the fate of GM, Chrysler and Ford. The message here is the auto/transportation industry is changing fast. Other players and other investors are pouring into niches because they recognize there are opportunities to get into the auto business at a time when some of the big players are swirling the drain.

And why do we in the Tampa Bay area especially care about Fisker's Karma? Because they will soon be for sale by Elder Automotive Group's Jaguar and Aston Martin dealership in Tampa located at 310 E. Fletcher Avenue. Stated Irma Elder, who heads Elder Automotive Group:

"This is such an incredible time in our industry, when we are on the leading edge of new technology that is becoming reality. We certainly look forward to showing the new Fisker Karma to our customers and will have our display models fully charged and ready to go beginning in early 2010."

Obviously at nearly $88,000, the Karma is a premium priced auto. But it's not the only electric-powered option out there. On the other end of the price spectrum, the all electric ZENN -- which stands for Zero Emission No Noise -- "neighborhood electric vehicle" can travel up to 35 miles and its 120-volt battery can be recharged in as little as four hours. ZENN Motor Co., based in Toronto, said this week it is dropping the price of its vehicle to under $10,000.

Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:24am]


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