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The company behind the bold and beautiful $87,000 Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid has a credibility challenge. The sleek vision of a four-door sports car combining 400 horsepower and 100-mpg fuel economy is alluring. Yet, the company has failed to deliver on scheduled production dates, and has not allowed journalists to drive the car or delve into details. With the next announced launch date scheduled in a few months, Fisker’s marketing plan starts to look like a tease.
Fisker’s new red-hot sexy television commercial does little to change that perception. The images are incredible loaded: A femme fatale in high heels steps past a spent flaccid gas pump nozzle, grabs hold of a charging wand, as a single ice cube slides down the curves of the vehicle’s body, and the Fisker Karma wheels spins in circles. The female model opens her mouth before the tag line, “Designed To Get You Hot, Not the Planet.”
This ad represents the boldest attempt so far to sex up the hybrid. Carmakers have been trying to undo the ultra-nerdy image of the hybrid almost from the beginning of the hybrid market in the U.S.: Honda tried it by adding horsepower to the failed Accord Hybrid; Honda is trying again with the CR-Z sporty coupe; G.M. and others tried beefing up hybrids with highway power and towing capacity in SUV Hybrids; and Ford is nullifying unsexy hybrid geekiness by making gas-electric technology an invisible element of mainstream vehicles.
Does Fisker go too far? Not far enough? Is it good for the green car movement? And the biggest question of all: Can Fisker deliver on its increasingly potent promise?