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by Tim Beissmann

The stunning Fisker Karma concept will become reality this year after the fledgling Californian electric vehicle manufacturer secured the money to fund its production.

Over the weekend, Fisker announced it had raised the final $US35 million ($41 million) in private equity to reach the required $US189 million ($223 million) under the conditions of its agreement with the US Energy Department.

Securing the funding means that Fisker is now entitled to a $US528.7 million ($624.7 million) loan from the department as part of a scheme implemented by the government to encourage the development of battery and electric vehicle technology.

Plans to produce the luxury four-door Karma coupe are already well advanced with Finnish manufacturer Valmet Automotive to build between 70 and 100 vehicles this year for final testing before launching into mass production in February 2011.

Fisker plans to produce around 15,000 Karmas annually and has set an initial starting price at $US87,900 ($103,900).

Equipped with next-generation lithium-ion batteries and a solar panel roof, the Karma is powered by two electric motors and a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol generator.

On one charge, it can travel 80km in all-electric mode and 483km on a range-extended full tank.

Its performance is also encouraging, with a top speed of 200km/h and a 0-100km/h sprint time of 5.8 seconds.

But no doubt its claim to fame will be the twin electric motors, which, at a combined 1300Nm, produce more torque than a Bugatti Veyron.

The US Energy Department loan also means that Fisker will produce the $US39,000 ($46,100) Nina sedan, which is said to be the size of a BMW 5-Series, at a former General Motors plant in Delaware from 2012.

So far Fisker has only signed partnerships with distributors in North America and Europe, so if it ever happens, an Australian debut could unfortunately still be some way down the track.

(with Reuters)




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