The Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid is a relative heavyweight at more than 5,000 pounds, said a board member and the chief executive of the company’s powertrain supplier.
“It’s a pretty heavy car,” said Jason Forcier, vice president of A123 Systems, Fisker Automotive’s battery supplier, and a Fisker board member. “But you have to look at all the technology, which includes a large gas engine, large electric motors and large batteries.”
David Mazaika, chief executive of Quantum Technologies, which is supplying the company’s Q-Drive powertrain, said that prototypes weighed “over 5,000 pounds,” but he cautioned that because of ongoing work on many components the final car might actually weigh less than that.
By contrast, the Chevrolet Volt, which also uses its gas engine as a generator, weighs 3,700 pounds.
Russell Datz, a Fisker Automotive spokesman, declined to comment on the weight. Mr. Forcier and Mr. Mazaika said that the Karma is on track to deliver the performance the company has quoted, which includes zero to 60 miles per hour in 5.9 seconds (in sport mode), 50 miles of all-electric travel, a top speed of 125 miles per hour and total range of 300 miles.
In a Nov. 11 press release, Fisker said that the Karma, which as a series plug-in hybrid has no universally acceptable means of measuring its gas mileage, would reach “an achievable annual average economy” of 100 miles per gallon and very low emissions of 83 grams per kilometer.
If the Karma does in fact weigh more than 5,000 pounds, it will need a beefy powertrain, but it has one. The Karma will feature twin electric traction motors producing 300 kilowatts (or the equivalent of 403 horsepower). Its lithium-ion battery pack’s peak performance is rated at 20 kilowatt-hours. The 2-liter direct-injection gasoline engine is turbocharged and generates 260 horsepower.
The benefits of a lightweight platform for E.V.’s are many.
“Roughly two-thirds of the factors that determine platform efficiency are weight dependent,” said Michael Brylawski, an executive vice president at Bright Automotive and an expert on reducing weight in automobiles. “Typically, the lighter you make the vehicle, the smaller you can make the battery pack for the same amount of range.”
While at the Rocky Mountain Institute, Mr. Brylawski worked with Amory Lovins, the nonprofit group’s chief scientist on its lightweight “Hypercar” project and co-authored papers with him on “ultralite” vehicles.
Development is proceeding on the Karma, according to Mr. Forcier. “It’s on track as far as I know,” he said. “They’re working through crash certification and expect to start ramping up production sometime in the second quarter of next year.” Mr. Mazaika said he expected that crash testing would be concluded in 60 days.
The first Karma built by Fisker at the Valmet Automotive factory in Finland will make its North American debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show, which opens to the public Nov. 19. The car will go into regular production in March, Fisker said.