Special Coverage

Geneva
Auto Show

WASHINGTON – Seeking to expedite introduction of its plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle by the end of this year, Fisker Automotive Inc. is outsourcing final assembly of the Karma luxury HEV, in addition to all the necessary components.

Valmet Automotive will paint and build completed vehicles after a complex series of supplies wend their way to the factory in Uusikaupunki, on the southwest coast of Finland.

Valmet is ramping down production of Porsche Boxster and Cayman models that will end in November.

Eventually, Fisker plans to build or refurbish a plant in the U.S. to assemble its luxury vehicles, says Henrik Fisker, CEO of the startup auto maker.

But cost and speed of initial assembly dictated Fisker’s retention of a turnkey option for timely introduction of the Karma, he says.

Body panels will be sourced from various North American suppliers and shipped to Valmet for paint and assembly.

Energy storage comes from more than 2,000 lithium-ion cells manufactured in Vancouver, BC, Canada, which are then shipped to Singapore for installation in battery packs. The packs are in turn shipped to Finland.

Fisker also is purchasing for the Karma a General Motors Corp. 2.0L direct-injection turbocharged gasoline engine built in Spring Hill, TN. GM uses the engine in several vehicles, including the Chevrolet HHR SS and Cobalt SS.

This engine will lengthen the Karma’s cruising range to 350 miles (563 km). The vehicle’s range is limited to 50 miles (80 km) on battery power alone.

Top speed is claimed to be 125 mph (201 km/h), with a 0-62 mph (100 km/h) time of 6 seconds. The sleek 4-door Karma is expected to achieve 100 mpg (2.3 L/100 km).

Fisker will unveil the Karma and its Karma S hardtop convertible counterpart for the first time in Europe on March 3 at the Geneva Motor Show.

Also in Geneva, Fisker will announce a European retail network strategy, along with options and pricing for the 408-hp vehicle.

Henrik Fisker says the first production vehicles will arrive from Finland late this year and go on sale by December, priced at $87,900.

He forecasts 7,500 sales next year and sees that doubling to 15,000 units by 2011, when the convertible arrives.

Fisker Automotive, which is privately owned, was founded in 2007 by Fisker Coachbuild LLC and Quantum Technologies. Its corporate headquarters are located in Irvine, CA.

The company has backing from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Palo Alto Investors and QIA.