Fisker, Finally: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma Hybrid Headed for Paris Show

We’ve seen Fisker’s slinky Karma hybrid concepts and prototypes rolled out on a number of occasions over the past three years, but we’ve yet to see one example that rolled off the assembly line. That will soon change, apparently, as the company announced today it plans on unveiling its first factory-built Karma sedan at the 2010 Paris Motor Show.

Founder and designer Henrik Fisker crafted the Karma in an attempt to combine exotic car styling with advanced hybrid technologies. We’d say he’s succeeded — after all, the Karma wears an exterior as elegant as Fisker’s previous designs (the man had a hand in styling the Aston Martin V8 Vantage and BMW Z8), and utilizes a plug-in hybrid drive system developed in part by Quantum Technologies. A pair of electric motors drive the rear wheels, but after the 50-mile range of the lithium-ion battery pack is depleted, an internal combustion engine — a 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 supplied by General Motors — fires up to serve as a generator, providing another 250 miles of travel.

Fisker has yet to showcase photographs of the production car, but officials tell us it will closely mirror what we’ve been ogling for almost three years. In fact, we’re told one of the biggest changes between the early protoypes and this example will lie with the shifter design, which segues from an actual lever to push-button controls.

While early Karma concepts and prototypes were virtually hand-built by Fisker’s team here in America, the example shown in Paris is the first to actually be built on the production line. Despite Fisker’s American roots, Karma production will actually be handled in Europe, as the automaker farmed the process out to Valmet Automotive, a specialty manufacturer based in Finland. Presently, the same facility builds both the Boxster and Cayman for Porsche, although that contract is reportedly set to expire in 2012.

Is a production launch imminent? We haven’t received any official word, but this move could signal that the Karma is inching closer to reality. The company plans on using the Paris venue to also formally unveil the official marketing campaign, along with a global distribution network and finalized pricing information. Early estimates had the Karma wearing an $89,000 price tag, but it’s presently unknown if that figure has gone up over the past two years.

Stay with Automobile Magazine for more news on the Fisker Karma, along with the other debuts and happenings occurring at the 2010 Paris Motor Show on September 30.

Source: Fisker Automotive