Improving the fuel economy of vehicles promotes energy independence, cleaner air and U.S. job security, so it’s a no-brainer that with all the money our government has been dishing out as of late, some of it should go to creating green vehicles, which it is. Just ask electric car company Tesla Motors, Inc. CEO Elon Musk and Fisker Automotive founder Henrik Fisker, when they’re not busy duking it out in court, of course. The feds recently split a billion dollars between the two companies for them to work on building affordable, electric-powered cars, with Tesla securing a $465 million government loan back in June and Fisker receiving $529 million last week to help build a hybrid sports car in Finland that will sell for about $89,000.
Fisker was once contracted by Tesla to design the Model S. Musk (who is no stranger to lawsuits) later sued Fisker, accusing him of doing sloppy work and stealing company secrets. Fisker won an arbitration ruling exonerating him from all blame but, needless to say, they most likely won’t be partnering up and playing nice again anytime soon.
This year more than 75,000 foreign-made hybrid cars will be sold in the U.S., a number which has almost tripled in the past few years. U.S. automakers need to get in on this growing market, and fast, so the question remains as to why we are sending millions of taxpayer dollars to a small foreign car company (backed by Al Gore, you read between the political lines) when local automotive companies have had their bids for loans rejected without any reasonable explanation?
The answer? A little thing called Karma, a hybrid for the elite car buyer which will target an exclusive audience (Gore was one of the first 1,500 people to get in line for one). The four-door eco-chic plug-in car, powered by a lithium-ion battery, will run solely on electric power for 50 miles, and will achieve an average fuel economy of 100 mpg over the span of a year. The balance of electric and gas range promises “a cleaner conscience” for the luxury hybrid owner. Unfortunately, with many Americans still struggling to find jobs and make ends meet, the Karma is not likely to appeal to the masses.
“This is not for average Americans,” said Leslie Paige, a spokeswoman for Citizens Against Government Waste, an anti-tax group in Washington. “This is for people to put something in their driveway that is a conversation piece. It’s status symbol thing.”
Production is scheduled to start in December, with about 15,000 vehicles a year expected to hit the U.S. market starting next June.