Henrik Fisker's firm starts selling innovative cars in late 2010, but he says “we didn't want to reinvent the wheel” in setting up a retail network for his fledging enterprise.

So Fisker Automotive Inc. is dualing with existing luxury-brand dealerships across the country.

“We have 45 U.S. dealers who will be up and ready by the end of this year,” says Fisker, CEO of the namesake company, maker of the upcoming Karma plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle.

By 2011, the firm plans to sell 15,000 PHEVs a year. First to market will be a Karma sedan, base price $87,900. A convertible comes next, then a third variant.

“We have a strong dealer network and can expand fast,” says Fisker, a Dane who first made his mark on the industry as a car designer.

Signed-up dealers are in various stages of readiness, he says. Some of them, such as Tom Price of the Price Family Dealerships in San Francisco, already have sold their first-round allotments of Karmas. “Other dealers are ramping up.”

Despite the Internet age, Fisker believes in the traditional retail system.

“The Internet is fine, but we still feel that people want to go to a dealership,” he says. “What if you want to talk to someone about the car? What if you have a problem? What about service?”

The most Fisker dealerships, eight, will be in California, followed by five in Texas and four in Florida.

Most retail representation centers on big metro market, such as Houston, Dallas, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Denver and Los Angeles.