2012 Fisker Karma Returns 51.6 Miles in Electric-Only Mode

By · November 03, 2011

2012 Fisker Karma

2012 Fisker Karma returns impressive 51.6 miles in electric-only mode.

Back in mid-October, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) handed down its official fuel economy figures for the 2012 Fisker Karma. To say that those numbers—52 MPGe, an electric-only range of 32 miles and 20 miles per gallon in extended-range mode—were disappointing would be an absolute understatement. Most of the major media outlets immediately responded by calling the $95,900-plus Fisker Karma a flop. But the bad news for Fisker kept piling up.

Within days of the EPA releasing its official fuel economy figures for the Karma, reports focusing on the Karma's classification as a subcompact vehicle surfaced. With less than 100 cubic-feet of interior volume, the EPA deemed the 5,300-pound Karma a subcompact. This classification will likely have no impact on sales of the Karma, but media outlets across the US used this bit of info to, once again, knock on the Finland-built Karma and question Fisker's federal loan status.

Fortunately for Fisker, there's some positive news coming in on the efficiency front. Over in Europe, the Karma was recently subjected to independent fuel efficiency tests carried out by regulatory body Technischer Überwachungs Verein (TÜV). The results of those tests prove that the Fisker Karma is one of the most capable—at least among plug-in hybrid vehicles—electric-only-mode performers in the world. The TÜV's thorough "real-world urban" tests show that the Karma returned an impressive 51.6-mile range in electric-only mode. This figure beats its EPA rating by a substantial 19.6 miles.

Of the results, Henrik Fisker, chief executive officer of Fisker Automotive, stated, "We are delighted that the TÜV has confirmed that most owners will achieve a 50-mile range running purely on electric during their daily commute."

The 2012 Fisker Karma is currently on sale in the US, though production volume is extremely limited and all Karmas to be sold in 2011 have already been spoken for. Come 2012, Fisker aims to sell approximately 15,000 Karmas in the US and across the pond in Europe.


· · 5 years ago

Big Deal. This test basically is running at a constant speed of 30 mph (see Annex 9 of ECE R101www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/trans/main/wp29/wp29regs/r101r2e.pdf). The 32 miles range listed on the label is based on an adjusted range which is approximately 73% of the raw federal city drive cycle. The city drive cycle has 18 accelerations and decelerations that range from about 25 mph to 55 mph. For example, the Leaf comes in at a raw 100 miles range (this is what they always claim as the achievable range) but the label says 73. I would be willing to bet that if you drove the Leaf at a constant 30 mph, it may get over 120 miles.

· Jeff N (not verified) · 5 years ago

This same European test cycle estimates the electric range of the Leaf as being 109 miles (EPA 73) and the production 2012 Plug-in Prius (Toyota estimate) at 14.3 miles (EPA 10?), and the Volt/Ampera also at 51.6 miles (EPA 35).

· · 5 years ago

Wow I just can NOT get excited about this car.

If I had 95k to spend on a transportation ( I do not ), but if I did I would spend 70k on a top of the line Tesla with 300 mile electric range. Then spend another 20k on a nice solar PV system and I would never have to pay for gasoline or electricity for the car again.

Well almost never :) I would still have 5k left over to go crazy with.


· · 5 years ago

The Fisker gets 20 miles per gallon in extended-range mode after the batteries are used up.

The Ford F-150 TRUCK gets 23 mpg on the highway.

· · 5 years ago

The EPA ratings are "realistically pessimistic" - a lot of people will get close to their numbers in real world driving, but if you actually care to try it's easy to do better.

All you have to do is not drive like an American :)

· · 5 years ago

"If I had 95k to spend on a transportation ( I do not ), but if I did I would spend 70k on a top of the line Tesla with 300 mile electric range. Then spend another 20k on a nice solar PV system and I would never have to pay for gasoline or electricity for the car again."

Better yet, buy a F-150 (25k), spend 70k on a solar PV system, get better millage and lower you overall carbon output with a really big solar system to run your house and sell back to the grid.

· · 5 years ago

I have to come out in support of Fisker here. They probably are doing the best they can and probably are taking a bath, even at $100K for this car.
True, they built it heavier than we would like, that's probably expected given Henrik Fisker's lack of respect for the engineers who are necessary to reduce weight.
I wish people would quit worrying about the gasoline mpg for PHEVs that can drive most places on pure electricity (Plug-In Prius, of course is not one of these). Anybody who pays this much money for this car is going to try to use electricity as much as possible. It will also, likely replace a low-mpg BMW, Mercedes, or Bentley anyway so even 22 mpg isn't bad on those rare occasions that gas is required.

· · 5 years ago

@Smidge204 "The EPA ratings are "realistically pessimistic" - a lot of people will get close to their numbers in real world driving, but if you actually care to try it's easy to do better.

All you have to do is not drive like an American :)"

And live in a fairly flat place with a mild climate where it doesn't rain much and never snows, and that has lots of low speed road alternatives to highway driving. For those of us who don't live in such a place, 100 miles in a LEAF is ludicrous. It has nothing to do with driving "like an American".

· · 5 years ago


I live in New York where snow and rain are well known. I'm not climbing any mountains but the local topography isn't exactly flat either. My typical commute is ~25 miles round trip, mostly at 50+MPH but with traffic lights so there's maybe a dozen times a day I'm idling at a light about once a week on average, I take a longer trip with is all proper highway. The EPA rates my 2004 Jetta at 21 city, 28 highway, 24 combined. Based on the last five years of data I have a lifetime average of just under 30MPG. Around town I get no less than 27. That's at least 25% better than EPA.

I don't consider myself a hypermiler either. I don't drive particularly easy.
With a little bit of effort (read: no jackrabbit starts, not going directly from heavy foot on the gas to a heavy foot on the brake, coasting towards red lights etc) you can easily do better than the EPA rating.

To beat the EPA with the LEAF you have to average 3.0 mi/kwh or better. That should not be difficult.

· Chris T. (not verified) · 5 years ago

@regman: heck, if you want to save the bucks, buy a used small Hyundai or Toyota. You can get a decent one that's only 6 or 7 years old for under $10k.

One does not buy an Aston-Martin DB9 or BMW Z8 for its economy (price OR fuel).

· · 5 years ago

@Smidge204, I, too, always beat EPA mileage estimates with my cars on average. But can I get 100 miles out of a LEAF when it is 20º and snowing and I'm climbing/descending 2000 feet with the heat on? Can I beat the EPA estimate on average? Probably. Can I get 100 miles range on average over a year? Hardly. And that isn't because I drive like a maniac.

"To beat the EPA with the LEAF you have to average 3.0 mi/kwh or better. That should not be difficult." No, it would take about 3.5 miles/kWh to equal the EPA number. Remember that the LEAF has only about 21 kWh usable battery capacity. And that's when it is new.

The point I would like to make is that with the current short-range EVs, such as the LEAF, the limiting factor in its utility is the maximum range under adverse conditions. With an ICE car, or a hybrid like the Volt or Karma, if one's mileage is down in a winter snowstorm one just fills up with gas more often.

The hope is that, eventually, a network of charge stations or EVs with larger batteries will increase the usable range of the cars even in less than ideal conditions. But to suggest that anyone who can't get 100 miles of range in the current LEAF is an incompetent driver is completely unfair. An average range over a year doesn't do one any good at all if one reaches turtle at 60 miles at times because of terrain or weather.

· · 5 years ago

Let me guess, you got snow last week.

· · 5 years ago

@ regman, Yes, and some more this week: 10½ inches Wednesday (Thursday was sunny and gorgeous). And it has been snowing lightly all day today. Pretty normal for the time of the year at 7670': it's November, snow happens. Makes the ski areas happy.

· jim1961 (not verified) · 5 years ago

On another website that I will not mention the name of (Hint: Eric Loveday is a major contributor) there was a lot of debate about the Karma. I criticized the Karma at first then defended it by saying a person who could afford the price of a Karma could afford to buy enough solar PV to offset the energy used by the Karma. I did some rough calculations of how much solar PV would be required to power the Karma. I assumed 15,000 miles annually with 80% being in EV mode. In a sunny climate like southern California it would take 4.5 kW of solar modules. That's approximately 450 square feet of solar modules at an installed cost of roughly $22,500. An environmentally conscious person should realize it takes a significant amount of energy and materials to manufacture solar modules. Less is more, in my opinion.

· · 5 years ago

I've seen some estimates that the energy payback time for PV solar modules is about 2 years. This means that the first 2 years of PV production go toward offsetting the energy taken to produce them. Of course, it all depends on the PV type and the where/how the PV is mounted.

· jim1961 (not verified) · 5 years ago

Thanks ex-EV1 driver for your comment. Some people might call me an alarmist but I believe that "radical' efficiency is necessary to significantly reduce the insane amount of damage we are doing to the biosphere. Don't get me started about ocean acidification.

I made a post to another website similar to the one I posted here about solar PV. One commenter asked me to provide the calculation details. He thinks I may have missed a decimal point or something. I would greatly appreciate if someone would check my math.

The EPA uses 15.000 miles per year in all their annual automobile cost calculations. I assume 80% EV mode. 15,000 x .8 = 12,000 miles. The Karma is rated at 52 MPGe. 12,000/52 = 231 "gallons" of energy. A gallon of gasoline contains 33.7 kiloWatt-hours of energy. 231 x 33.7 = 7777 kiloWatt-hours per year. I then divided by 12 because the online calculator asks for monthly energy usage. 7777/12 = 650 kWh per month. Then I used the following online calculator. http://solar.coolerplanet.com/Articles/solar-calculator.aspx

I did the calculations for St. Louis, Missouri and Los Angeles, California. In St. Louis it would take 555 square feet of solar modules. In Los Angeles it takes 450 square feet of solar modules.

· Anonymous · 5 years ago


The Ford F -150 truck is powered by the same company that powers the Fisker Karma called QuantummTechnologies. In fact, the Karma isa joint venture between Fisker and Quantum. The F-150 get more mileage because its lighter. Do your homework before you bash. Perhaps you should be investing in Quantum instead. Their ticker symbol is QTWW.

· · 5 years ago

"No, it would take about 3.5 miles/kWh to equal the EPA number"

That is way low. What the heck are they doing in that test?

My Leaf says I've averaged 4.3 miles/kWh total over ~4500 miles (the mileage number shown in the Speedometer area). My average for November was 4.4, and the 3 months before that was 4.5 (I reset the history the first day of each month).

That's driving in Austin, TX (mostly on Mopac, if you know Austin). It's fairly hilly (400 feet between the high point and low point of my commute), and we had record heat this past summer. I also do a fair amount of driving at highway speeds (the worst case for mileage, at least for me).

I'm definitely not a Hypermiler (although I think I drive fairly economically most of the time).

The EPA may want to rethink they way the test EVs.

Oh, wait. It just occurred to me that they might have tested it in "Drive" mode rather than "Eco" mode (I always use Eco mode). That would actually make that number less ridiculous. If that's the case, Nissan should really just make Eco the Default mode, and increase their mileage numbers with the EPA by 15% or so without changing anything at all with the car.

New to EVs? Start here

  1. Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
    A few simple tips before you visit the dealership.
  2. Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
    Take advantage of credits and rebates to reduce EV costs.
  3. Buying Your First Home EV Charger
    You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.