Fisker Hits Heartland with Karma Plug-in Hybrid Tour

The Fisker Karma might be the only plug-in hybrid available in smaller cities in the heartland for some time.

Next week, Fisker will kick off a whistle-stop North American tour of the Fisker Karma $87,000 plug-in hybrid sports car. Unlike the electric-drive competition, Fisker is hitting uncharted EV markets, such as Plano, Tex., Huntsville, Ala., Neena, Wis., and Centerville, Utah.

“Our market research shows Karma buyers represent all walks of life, and transcend traditional demographic profiles,” Marti Eulberg, Fisker vice-president, global sales and marketing, told HybridCars.com. “We expect our best North American markets to be mainly throughout the smile belt—from the Northwest, down the coast across Texas and Florida, and up the East Coast.”

Fisker’s view of geography—specifically its embrace of the South—is a break from the most common view about electric car adoption mostly on the coasts. Observers commonly point to hybrid ownership as the best proxy for EV adoption. The regional pattern of hybrid ownership in the past 10 years has favorably titled toward major coastal cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, DC, and New York. Many analysts forecast much stronger electric car sales in dense urban centers, than in sprawling suburbs and truck country.

Yet, the early part of Fisker’s tour will bring the 400-horsepower plug-in hybrid—with about 50 miles of all-electric range—to five cities in Texas before it swings to Tulsa, Huntsville, Tampa Bay and an Atlanta-based Cadillac dealership.

Fisker’s mapping also indicates that the company expects to sell the car as an exotic powerful sports car that happens to be a green plug-in hybrid—rather than for its green credentials. “Our retail strategy targets trend-setting clientele,” said Eulberg. “Because of its style and functionality the Karma will compete with traditionally-powered vehicles in its class, giving premium vehicle buyers a truly responsible alternative.”

The strategy also suggests relatively small production numbers going to lower-volume locations. Fisker is targeting up to 15,000 sales globally its first year of production, which begins in early 2011. The tour stops are located in places such as Paramus, NJ, rather than New York City—but does include hybrid hotspots such as Santa Monica, Silicon Valley, and Portland, Ore. See the Fisker website for complete tour locations and dates.

Who’s Going Where?

Will electric cars and plug-in hybrids be sold mostly in coastal urban hotspots? Or is heartland USA ready to plug in? Here’s how the plug-in players are approaching the geo-issue:

  • The Tesla Roadster, the pioneering electric-drive sports car, is sold at stand-alone dealerships in more predictable premier locations: San Diego, Los Angeles, Menlo Park, Seattle, Miami, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, DC, New York and Boston.
  • Coda Automotive, offering a more practical and affordable pure electric family sedan, will be sold exclusively in California.
  • General Motors will put the Chevy Volt on sale, during the first year of sales in 2011, mostly in California—but also in Michigan and Washington, DC (probably for political rather than market reasons).
  • Nissan placed its electric entry, the $32,000 pure electric Nissan Leaf, on tour in late 2009/early 2010—predominantly near the locations of its first five test markets in California, Washington, Oregon, Tennessee (where eTec, its technology partner is based), and Tennessee (where Nissan USA is headquartered).
  • The Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid is likely to be sold throughout the entire US, when it goes on sale in 2012. Toyota officials told HybridCars.com that they expect sales of the plug-in Prius to be mostly from existing hybrid drivers.

The tour of the Fisker Karma will give retailers their first opportunity to give depositors and potential prospects an up-close look at the vehicle. But they won’t be able to drive it. The tour ends in early July. Test drives will not be available until the end of the year.


  • Nelson Lu

    Wasteful conspicuous consumption is bad for your karma.

  • JamesDavis

    It takes a lot less to manufacture electric cars, so why are they so expensive?

  • George T.

    “Fisker Karma” should have a good market in South-East Asia but a very limited market in the rest of the world. Since Karma is a concept of Hinduism and Buddhism it endorses the named religions. It is s grievous sin for a christian to endorse a none-christian religion in any way.

  • MacAaron

    James: it costs MORE to manufacture, not less. Just because there are fewer parts doesn’t mean it’s cheaper. Batteries are the biggest cost. This car in particular is a luxury sports sedan, so it’s aiming at a specific market. Same with the Tesla Roadster, which aims at a specific sports car market.

    The Nissan Leaf is a cheaper, smaller car meant for the mass market as is the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight.

    Oh and George, are you actually serious with that statement? How is it a “grievous sin” for Christians to “promote” another religion? If more Christians bothered to read the Bible (and the texts of other religions), the world sure would be a better place. That’s true of most religions, actually. Except, of course, Hinduism and Buddhism, which are (funny enough) the world’s only NON VIOLENT religions.

  • Susie A.

    George,

    please try to think for yourself; any sign of rigidity is a bright red flag that can help you see that George believes he is right above all others that do not hold the same beliefs as he does.
    I know believers that are convinced that Yoga is evil and that if you do the exercises you’re bound for hell with the dragon.
    Don’t we call those “extremists” nowadays?

    Think, observe and discern, and pray for a little more wisdom.

    Susie

  • booHaa

    MacAaron, you are not serious about Hinduism being non-violent, right? In Bhagavat Gita (the Bible for Hindus) Krishna is ordering Arjuna to kill his own half brothers and a bunch of other relatives. Hinduism being non-violent is just crap. Nor does Hinduism promote vegetarianism. All the Hindu sages found in their holy books were non-vegetarians and most ate beef. Please read some good books rather than listening to new age gurus.

  • Anonymous

    can’t we all get along!!!

    i’m sure if the name is a problem, it will just be renamed, sheesh…

  • Old Man Crowder

    How about we stay on topic?

    I, for one, am glad to see Fisker take this show on the road. There’s such a huge population (and lots of affluence) outside of California, so it was only a matter of time before somebody started promoting outside the state.

    Although I have to say I’m a little disappointed that only 3 out of 42 cities are Canadian. Not exactly full North American coverage.

  • nicolas

    why you put a aston marti and my friend sayd fuck you