The Fisker Karma, like the Chevrolet Volt, is best described as an “extended range electric vehicle.” During the car’s development and launch, Fisker had claimed a battery-only range of 50 miles and an “mpg equivalent” rating of 67.2 mpge. The mpge rating factors in both a car’s battery range and its fuel consumption in series hybrid mode to come up with a value that can be equated to a conventional, internal combustion engine automobile.
The EPA has finally gotten around to rating the Fisker Karma, and the news isn’t good. Instead of a battery range of 50 miles, the EPA says you can expect just 32 miles. Instead of an mpge of 67.2, the EPA says you’ll get an mpge of 52, and a truly disappointing 20 mpg when running in gasoline-powered generator mode.
The Volt, which critics panned because of its battery range and equivalent fuel economy, fares significantly better. It’s battery range is 36 miles, which is a 12.5 percent improvement over the Karma. An additional four miles of battery range won’t be enough to impress most people, but the difference in mpge will: the Volt gets 93 mpge, which is a 79 percent improvement over the Karma. Running in generator mode, the Volt delivers 37 miles per gallon, an 85 percent improvement over the 20 mpg delivered by the Karma.
I don’t expect this will win over many critics, but maybe it does illustrate that the engineering behind the Volt is solid. Factor in the cost difference between the Karma and the Volt, and justifying the purchase of a Karma becomes even more challenging. Unless, of course, you’re compelled to be a trend-humping fashion lemming who drives the latest Hollywood “image car,” in which case you probably don’t care what the Karma costs or how well it performs. As for me, I’d take the Volt and sink the $57,000 in savings into something really entertaining to drive.