Fisker Karma S

The Fisker Karma S is ahead of its time. Before delivering a single one of its original Karma series sedans, Fisker Automotive unveiled its new retractable hardtop hybrid at the 2009 North American International Auto Show. The Fisker Karma goes to show that automotive luxury and environmental consciousness are not mutually exclusive. Conceived as part of a top-secret program for the Army’s Delta Force, the Karma’s Q Drive power train consists of a rear-mounted DC motor that draws voltage from lithium batteries, which on a full charge will move the car up to 50 miles. The system’s secondary power source resides beneath the Karma’s long hood: a small-displacement turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine that has no connection to the wheels and serves only to charge the batteries, extending the range to about 600 miles. A standard photovoltaic roof uses solar energy to charge the batteries and to power fans that cool the passenger compartment and battery pack when the car is parked. But going green does not mean going slow: the car will hit 60 mph in 5.8 seconds and reach a top speed of 125 mph.

Pros: Beautiful design and innovative engineering from a newcomer.

Cons: Still vaporware.

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