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First Factory-Built Fisker Karma – Click above for high-res image gallery

Fisker Automotive says that it's developing a multi-speed gearbox that, according to Henrik Fisker, the man behind the Karma plug-in, could boost performance of extended-range electric vehicles to "Veyron levels." Um, yeah, and hell hath frozen over too.

Fisker reportedly told Autocar all that's needed is a multi-speed gearbox, mated to an electric motor, to significantly improve acceleration and performance of vehicles like the Karma. Fisker claims that electric vehicle acceleration is limited by the single-speed trans. However, Fisker believes to have found a solution, stating "With the torque at the wheels increased by the use of a gearbox, Veyron levels of performance should be possible." We await our turn behind the wheel to test this. Hat tip to Roy!


Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma
  • Paris 2010: First Factory-Built Fisker Karma

Photos copyright ©2010 Drew Phillips / AOL

[Source: Autocar]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 41 Comments
      Noz
      • 3 Years Ago
      ""Um, yeah, and hell hath frozen over too."" What is this author stupid? Power and torque IS power and torque...regardless of what source it is generated from. If an electric power cell can generate the power and have it be converted to mobile force, then what the hell difference does it make if it's not coming from a stupid quad turbo V16? And you call yourselves auto journalists?
        electronx16
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Noz
        Yeah, Eric Loveday's ongoing anti Fisker campaign bugs the heck out of me too.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      probably no way the UQM will get this 2 ton fat ass to 100km/h in 2.5seconds but there is perhaps a hint of truth in that the A123 batteries in it can do something veyron like. a gearbox wont do it though.
        Marco Polo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        Good grief, DF is still alive! The recent absence of idiotic posts gave hope that you were settling down, and a combination of medication and therapy was working. I was worried that some Tesla owner had run over DF, or worse, DF had actually built his dream car and been squashed by an octogenarian in a motorised wheelchair.
        MTN RANGER
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        Man, 4,650 lbs is huge. The Karma brochure says sport mode is 0-60 in 5.9 sec. I really doubt a new gearbox will improve that much.
      vwfailsagain
      • 3 Years Ago
      Fisker is correct but building a multi speed gearbox for an electric motor is a tall order.
      EVnerdGene
      • 3 Years Ago
      "veyron levels" LOL little chevy 4-banger gonna equal the veyron's 1000+ HP mill
        letstakeawalk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @EVnerdGene
        The I4 doesn't power the wheels. But you knew that, right? Two electric motors, totaling 960lb/ft of torque, are what's spinning the wheels. From Wiki: "The Karma's two 201 brake horsepower (204 PS) motors produce 1,300 newton metres (960 ft·lbf) of torque, more than the Bugatti Veyron at 1,250 N·m (920 ft·lbf)." I agree, it isn't likely that the current Karma will ever be exceeding 253mph, but that's not to say a specialized variant won't either. Chalk it up as big-talking PR, but Fisker has some pretty serious ambitions, and a hyper-speed EV isn't impossible.
          letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @letstakeawalk
          Peter Scott, I suppose we'll have to disagree about torque vs. HP. But I might suggest a real-world test. Find your current vehicle's torque peak, and then floor the accelerator. Try it again, only this time, floor the accelerator at the vehicle's peak HP. Then, respond back with which peak (torque or HP) was responsible for creating a greater rate of acceleration. Torque rules, it's what you feel.
          PeterScott
          • 3 Years Ago
          @letstakeawalk
          Yes, but Torque is not the important spec. It is HP that governs acceleration and the Karma has about 400HP. The Veyron has about 1000HP. They each weigh about 4000 lbs. With less than half the HP the Karma will never come close to the Veyron for acceleration regardless of gearing.
          EVnerdGene
          • 3 Years Ago
          @letstakeawalk
          yeah, I knew that. So figure size of battery pack it would take to output the equivalent of 1000 or 1200 horsepower for 5 minutes, or even 5 seconds. car drawer fisker should run his statements by his engineers before making a fool of himself. Or, hey, I'll just wait for the multi-speed version of the Fisker. Top speed is not his problem. Getting off the line, and up to speed with tall gearing is ******* his amps - reducing range drastically. And again, the gearbox could be built - see Veyron's.
          letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @letstakeawalk
          A multi-speed transmission is not about getting a horsepower increase. If that were the case, then Fisker would have to specify a bigger battery and more powerful motors. But he's not talking about changing those (at the moment). He's talking about using a gearbox to enable the use of different gears. One gear for rapid acceleration from a stop - another for high-speed cruising. Top speed is the problem, as is acceleration. Right now, the Karma's pretty great (I'm a huge cheerleader, for sure). But it could have a faster 0-60 - if it used a lower gear. Likewise, 125mph is pretty weak sauce for a luxury sport sedan. It would be great if it could at least do 155, or better yet, 185mph. But of course, the motors only wind up to a certain rpm before ******* too much juice out of the battery, so a higher gearing would help there. Now, put a low gear and a high gear together and... "Or, hey, I'll just wait for the multi-speed version of the Fisker. ...and again, the gearbox could be built." I'm glad to see that you agree with Fisker's vision. There's nothing stopping him from doing it, given some good engineers.
          PeterScott
          • 3 Years Ago
          @letstakeawalk
          Again. That LTAW, that is completely wrong. Torque is merely force it can changed/multiplied endlessly be gearing. If torque was all that mattered you could just get more and more gears to keep multiplying it and be accelerated faster and faster. That isn't how it works. You need Torque x RPM, which is HP. You can't alter HP with gearing, it is power and it is what determines acceleration. Look for a 0-60 calculator. http://measurespeed.com/zero-to-sixty-mph-calculator.php You can't find dozens that will estimate acceleration based one Weight/HP but you won't find a single one that calculates it for weight/torque, because torque on it's own is a meaningless number. So with less they half the HP, a Karma will NEVER accelerate like a Veyron, regardless of gearing.
          PeterScott
          • 3 Years Ago
          @letstakeawalk
          IIRC LTAW you are one of the ardent defenders of Hydrogen Cars. So guess it makes sense that you don't even understand basic high school science. Maybe work on GED before commenting on subjects that might include basic math/science.
          EVnerdGene
          • 3 Years Ago
          @letstakeawalk
          exactly correct. That's why it's a LOL comparing the cheby engine powered car with the 1000 or 1200 HP Veyron.
          letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @letstakeawalk
          "It is HP that governs acceleration." Nope. HP governs top speed, but since HP is calculated from known torque, then ultimately it is also torque that governs top speed. The Tesla Roadster has tremendous acceleration because of it's relatively high torque to weight ratio. The Roadster's motor has a torque plateau from 0rpm to just under 6Krpm - if the Roadster has a second gear (as originally planned) the Roadster would be capable of even higher top speeds, utilizing the torque plateau under 6Krpm sent through a set of gears to keep the electric motor in its most powerful operational rpm. http://www.teslamotors.com/sites/default/files/Torque-Curve2.png The electric motors in the Karma (and its future variants) have a similar torque plateau, and when operating beyond a specific rpm, they lose torque. Using another gear will keep the electric motors in their most powerful output range... enabling higher top speeds.
          EVnerdGene
          • 3 Years Ago
          @letstakeawalk
          I don't think Frisker is so interested in more top speed - except for maybe hype. What he's befuddled about is why his super efficient EV-series-hybrid is only getting 25 mpg. With a higher gear ration off the line, it would be much more efficient. But, with only one gear, that would drop his top end. lil' cheby engine - inefficient generator - inefficiencies in and out of batteries - then a grunter rear end ratio = not so impressive But, worthy of a 1/2 BILLION dollar loan from the DOE - go figure the b-job our bureaucrats swallowed
      HVH20
      • 3 Years Ago
      Yes it COULD be really fast with a gear box. However, the tricky part is shifting at WOT and not blowing through the gears, literally. In a conventional ICE the engine looses a significant amount of power up shifting (lowering RPM) thus making the gear change not too harsh of a shift. Shifting gears with an electric motor at WOT (more like wide open controller for a lack of a better term) causes the engine to shift when it is at a lower power state (high rpm) and into an extremely high power/torque state (low rpm) and this transition usually ends up in broken gears. The first company that can perfect a 2 or 3 speed gear box for high performance electric motors will be rich. There are several electric conversions that utilize a traditional manual gear box and racing clutch. The reason for the clutch is not to disengage at idle, but to act as a mechanical cushion when shifting or hard acceleration. Without this cushion, motors will twist solid shafts into pretzels.
        EVnerdGene
        • 3 Years Ago
        @HVH20
        Oh come now. How about the seven speed DCT in the Veyron, shifting what, and engine capable of 1200 horsepower - 110 foot-lbs (1500 N-m) ?
      letstakeawalk
      • 3 Years Ago
      It seems like a simple upgrade path, really. Most electric cars wouldn't need multiple gears, but there's no reason why an EV couldn't benefit from one. After all, Tesla originally wanted to have two gears in the Roadster, right?
        Gordon Chen
        • 3 Years Ago
        @letstakeawalk
        They tried, but gave up on that idae not b/c Tesla decided it was not necessary, but b/c the transmission manufacturer could not get the prototype to work and the deadline was already missed.
          letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Gordon Chen
          Tesla "gave up" on a transmission because they couldn't get one that worked. There's nothing stopping someone from developing one that does, and then putting in in an EV. A multi-speed transmission would be very useful for high-speed running, which is what is likely meant by "Veyron performance".
          JakeY
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Gordon Chen
          But it turned out to be unnecessary. The Roadster performs perfectly fine with one gear. The only thing the second gear helps is address the top speed, although in a road car it's not that necessary except for bragging rights. It adds a lot more complexity for not much benefit. It helps that the Roadster's Motor spins up to 14k rpm. Fisker's motor only spins to 5k rpm, which means they have to gear it significantly higher, which definitely will affect performance. That seems to explain why the Karma seems to underperform given it's power and torque specs.
          electronx16
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Gordon Chen
          "The Roadster performs perfectly fine with one gear"....yes, if you think a topspeed of 125MPH is perfectly fine for a car like that.
        Peter
        • 3 Years Ago
        @letstakeawalk
        yeah, that worked out fine for Tesla... To be fair (overlooking the Veyron hyperbole) yes if you need to get both top speed and acceleration, you would want a gearbox, but a Tesla compromise saves weight and complexity for a slight loss in a theoretical top speed number that already would risk having my car taken away and crushed in my jurisdiction.
          letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Peter
          I get what you're saying, and generally agree - I said that electrically-driven cars only really need one gear. But somebody is going to want to build an EV with multiple gears, and there will be a customer eagerly waiting to wring it out. Nothing is stopping Fisker from going after those customers.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Floundering not foundering. This reminds me of the movie "Field of Dreams", if you build it they will come, in other words if you create a supply then the demand will follow. On a business standpoint this is very risky, but of course this supply was intialized by the current government administration.
        Nick
        • 3 Years Ago
        Oil firms and the car industry tore out railways and built freeways and gas stations. If you build it they will buy it. And it worked. We're addicted to cars and oil for a century.
      PeterScott
      • 3 Years Ago
      Benefit, yes. Veyron. I don't think so. If Fisker is using UQM PP150 motors then they likely could benefit somewhat from a transmission because those motors only do about 5000 RPM. http://www.uqm.com/propulsion_specs.php Tesla impresses me again by developing their own motors. They run up to 14000 RPMs, Drastically reducing the need/benefit of having a transmission. The Tesla method is preferable IMO, but if you are stuck with a low RPM motor, a transmission will be helpful.
      Noz
      • 3 Years Ago
      The only way this would work IMO is a dual clutch semi automatic....it's ideal for this job.
      John R
      • 3 Years Ago
      I remember Tesla had tried a multi-speed gear box more than once in the early stages, and ultimately they had to ditch it because they couldn't figure out how to keep it from breaking from the torque. I wonder how Fisker plans to overcome this problem. Maybe they'll try a much heavier-duty gear box, but then that would add extra weight.
        letstakeawalk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @John R
        "I wonder how Fisker plans to overcome this problem." Two words: Smarter Engineers.
      Nick
      • 3 Years Ago
      Maybe the Karma can equal to Veyron in 0-30mph or say 0-40mph, but beyond that, no way. My Dodge truck could best sport cars in 0-40 runs too, but past that the sport cars just flew by. It's all about low-end torque.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Pros: 1. Slight performance increase over existing flat-torque, broad-RPM AC Induction (or reluctance!) motors. Cons: 1. Weight; 2. Cost; 3. Breakage/reliability; 4. Possibly noisier; 5. Adverse performance in non-maximum-acceleration modes -- which is to say, virtually all the time -- due to need to create a whole new layer of electronic control complexity and introducing mechanical compromises to carefully-controlled electronic conditions. All in all, a terrible idea. A vastly easier solution: a slightly more powerful motor.
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