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by George Skentzos

Fisker Automotive has today unveiled its first ever production car, the Fisker Karma, at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.

The four-door plug-in hybrid premium sports sedan is the first of its kind in the world, with prices starting from $80,000 in the United States.

It uses a hybrid system known as Q DRIVE which was developed specifically for Fisker Automotives, combining a small petrol engine that charges a lithium ion battery pack which powers an electric motor – much like the Chevrolet Volt.

 2009 Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid saloon

This design allows the Karma to travel up to 80km on battery power alone before the petrol engine kicks in, provided the car is completely charged every evening – which for some drivers may mean almost never having to visit the petrol pump again.

“Our goal here is to deliver the advancement that Quantum Technologies has made in the area of plug-in hybrid technology. By combining our efforts with the renowned design talent of Henrik Fisker, we can produce cars that make a difference to the environment — without sacrificing the luxury that accompanies the finest automobiles,” stated Alan Niedzwiecki, CEO Quantum Technologies.

It has been designed as an eco-friendly alternative to the European luxury saloons, encouraging environmentally-conscious celebrities out of the poverty-pack Prius’ and into something more suited to their tastes.

Inside, electricity-draining features haven’t been deleted with the Karma boasting sat-nav, LED tail lamps, passenger DVD entertainment system and state-of-the-art push button controls.

2009 Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid saloon

The driver will be able to select two driving modes, the first being “Stealth Mode” which delivers quiet economy for relaxed and efficient driving, whilst “Sport Drive” offers the full power of the electric motor.

Performance is adequate, launching from zero to 100km/h in just over six seconds and on to a top speed of 201km/h on a wave of continuous torque.

Also on hand to help charge the battery is a regenerative brake energy system as well as a solar panel roof which also acts as a self-contained climate control system to keep the car cool.