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Fisker Karma – Click above for high-res image gallery

At the Chicago Auto Show last week, Fisker Automotive brought along the Karma Sunset with a new black exterior we hadn't seen before. For the Geneva Motor Show the automaker is going in the other direction and will be showing off the "advanced aluminum space frame" that underpins the Karma and gives the plug-in hybrid "new levels of rigidity and strength" for "world-class ride and handling characteristics." Here's how Fisker describes the frames, which will be made by Valmet Automotive in Uusikaupunki, Finland, in a statement:
Though it forms the foundation of a large sedan, the Karma space frame's rigidity is exceptional even when compared to today's sports cars. By utilizing 5,000- and 6,000-series aluminum alloys and a unique extrusion-intensive architecture, the Fisker engineering team achieved the best balance between weight and size.
Maybe at the New York Auto Show in March we'll get to see the Karma's raw materials. Nah, only joking. There's more information after the jump.

[Source: Fisker]
Show full PR text

IRVINE, CA – February 17, 2010: The advanced aluminum space frame underpinning the Fisker Karma incorporates new levels of rigidity and strength that will give the world's first premium plug-in hybrid electric vehicle world-class ride and handling characteristics. It will debut at the Geneva Motor Show March 2-14, 2010.

Fisker Automotive's talented and experienced engineering team designed the Karma's space frame around the car's unique Q-DRIVE® series-hybrid powertrain, filing for multiple patents in the process. Q-DRIVE® consists of a 2.0-liter turbocharged ECOTEC® engine/generator set, a lithium-ion battery pack from A123 Systems, and a rear-mounted 403hp traction motor assembly.

Though it forms the foundation of a large sedan the Karma space frame's rigidity is exceptional even when compared to today's sports cars. By utilizing 5,000- and 6,000- series aluminum alloys and a unique extrusion-intensive architecture, the Fisker engineering team achieved the best balance between weight and size.

"Our top priorities when we designed the Karma's aluminum space frame were that it have extremely high torsional rigidity and could be easily modified to accept Karma model variants," explained Henrik Fisker, CEO, Fisker Automotive. "We benchmarked some of the world's best cars to create an all-new space frame that will deliver an exhilarating experience behind the wheel.

A super-structural tunnel running down the car's centerline acts as the Karma's backbone. It not only houses the battery pack but acts as a torque tube connecting front and rear sections. For optimal strength the Karma's space frame is joined with 79 meters of precision CMT MIG welds and 1,058 self-piercing rivets. Each technique is used independently only where necessary to ensure top quality and durability.

The result is an industry-leading space frame that provides a solid foundation for the Karma. Few cars match its statistics: Static torsional rigidity – the amount the space frame resists twisting forces when entering a ramp at an angle, for example – measures more than 33,000 Newton-meters per degree (Nm/deg). Static bending rigidity – the amount the space frame resists flexing forces as the car enters a ramp straight on, for example – measures more than 23,000 N/mm. Dynamic stiffness – the space frame's resistance to resonant vibrations like those felt when driving over a sharp bump or rough road surfaces -- is also world class.

Thanks to intelligent engineering solutions the Karma's space frame also provides the utmost in occupant safety and exceeds global crash protection standards.

Front impact protection starts with a patent-pending, multi-cell tempered aluminum crush box that displaces high-impact energy away from passengers. Its unique design allows it to be easily replaced, reducing repair costs that could lower insurance premiums. Dual Phase 600-Series steel reinforced components in the doors and B- pillars provide substantial side impact protection. And the lithium-ion battery's location in the center of the car puts it farthest from impact areas.

Valmet Automotive will assemble the space frames at its state-of-the-art facility in Uusikaupunki, Finland.

Fisker Automotive is a privately owned, premium American car company with a vision to lead the automotive industry into the next-generation of automobiles with high-end design expertise and eco-friendly powertrain technology. Global headquarters are in Irvine, California, USA.

The company was created in 2007 to leverage the design capabilities of Fisker Coachbuild, LLC, founded by auto design veterans Henrik Fisker and Bernhard Koehler, and the PHEV powertrain capabilities of Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide, Inc. (NASDAQ-QTWW), a major Tier 1 supplier of clean vehicle technologies to the automotive OEMs. Previously, Fisker, CEO, was design director for Aston Martin and president and CEO of BMW's DesignworksUSA. Koehler, COO, led operations for Ford's Global Advanced Design Studio and created concept cars for Aston Martin, MINI and BMW.

Fisker Automotive's first car is the Fisker Karma, the world's first premium Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV). The four-door Karma will be followed by two variants and a second line of lower cost, high volume premium green automobiles by 2012.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Next best electric car after the Tesla! Lose the touchscreen and we're good.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Agreed it this is a much better looking vehicle than a Tesla to me. But the Tesla is on the road and this isn't. Talk is cheap. Especially when you are talking about your frame. There is no lack of knowledge and ability in the auto industry when it comes to designing frames that are light and/or stiff.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Aside from the fact that the Tesla is on the road now, Fisker blows it away in technical sophistication. Everything about the Tesla was retrofitted from something else -- A stretched Lotus Elise chassis, laptop batteries daisy-chained together, etc. Still a great car but the next gen is near.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Paul - yup, much more impressive than the tesla. Sitting in the fisker it's pretty amazing they managed to dream up the entire thing themselves and the interior felt even more cohesive than the panamera.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Dr. Greenthumb i'm simply saying that these automakers wanna talk about mpg and hybrids and this and that, yet cars 20 years ago are getting the same mileage. Why? Because they are LIGHTER! I have a 98 mitsu mirage and it gets AT LEAST 30 mpg. No hybrid needed. Nothing but tune ups in 11 years. and it was 9,000 dollars brand new. Why don't the automakers take a different direction and boast about not having satnav or tons of electronics and just concentrate on the sheer joy of driving. And by not having all this fancy stuff, the car is cheaper and fun drive. Less headaches for the consumer.
        • 5 Years Ago
        mnmlist: Your anti-technology whining is a bit tiring. Here is what you can do for the technologically advanced world, give up your personal computer. We'll chip in (pun intended) and present you with a stone tablet and a chisel.

        Same tired argument on every car. Quit whining PLEASE.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Best looking four-door on the market or soon to be, better than the new Rapide as well and less than half the price.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree, this thing is gorgeous. As long as they can make it all work, and it holds together it should be one of the coolest cars around. Never thought I would say that about a sedan, let alone a hybrid.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It must be quite difficult to make the body panels look like that. I mean look at all the curves and angles. 20-10 years ago people wouldn't have even dreamed of something like that.

      Nice car. Looks a bit more high-quality than the Tesla, but I like them both.

      BTW that factory in Finland is the same where the Boxster and Cayman are produced, and those are some of the best made cars (quality-wise) that there are on this side of Maybachs and such.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's metal. You bend it. (rolls eyes)

        "Are you kidding me? There's like 80 bucks worth of steel in these things" Herb Powell, talking about the profit margin on automobiles
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why do you all insist on comparing this luxury plug-in hybrid to a high performance sports car? Do you compare the Rolls Royce Phantom to the Lamborghini LP640? NO

      Do not fall into Fisker's pile of BS. This is not a less expensive alternative to the Tesla Roadster, it is an emissions producing, non existent (barely in drivable prototype form), and MORE EXPENSIVE alternative to the TELSA MODEL S. (pure electric, no emissions, luxury sedan that has actually been seen and driven in public.

      Reservation holders have even been invited to events to be driven in the car. Imagine that?