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. The Karma has a manufacturer suggested retail price of around $96,000 for a basic model and $109,000 for the top-end model, compared to the Roadster’s $109,000 price tag. Part of that price probably comes from the car having an actual solar panel installed on the roof that generates around a half-kilowatt-hour of energy each day to charge the battery and extend the range of the car even further.
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.
While the Karma seems to target a similar audience as the Roadster, it’s still quite a different vehicle. The Karma doesn’t carry the same “oomph” the Roadster has — it has a top speed of 95 miles per hour and can reach 60 miles per hour in around 8 seconds. The Roadster, which is really geared towards sports car enthusiasts, can break 60 miles per hour in 6 seconds and has a top speed of 125 miles per hour. The Roadster can also travel around 200 miles before needing to recharge and is a true plug-in electric car, not a hybrid.
Tesla Motors was able to successfully go public, even though it won’t make any kind of profit for the next several years. Ray Lane, a managing partner at storied venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, said in a Wall Street Journal interview that Fisker Automotive also plans to go public in the future. 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.