Hybrid vehicles have traditionally been seen as underpowered, modest or even boring. Although socially progressive drivers have embraced hybrids, many have shied away from them in favor of flashier vehicles. Fisker created its revolutionary hybrid, the Karma, in 2011 to bridge this gap.

The Fisker Karma is a plug-in electric and gasoline hybrid. Slated to debut in 2009, the car’s release was delayed until 2011. It was immediately embraced by celebrities, receiving endorsements from the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Ashton Kutcher. Justin Bieber even received a fully-chromed Karma for his 18th birthday and has already gotten his first speeding ticket in it. For people wanting to drive in style while showing a commitment to sustainability, the Fisker Karma seems like a perfect match, but the car isn’t flawless and may not be right for everyone.

Fisker Karma History

The vehicle was designed by Henrik Fisker, a Danish auto designer who is best known for his work with BMW. The design similarities are clear, and the Karma sports the same sleek lines as Fisker’s other work. The new California-based company has undergone some financial difficulties, however, and Henrik Fisker stepped down from his role as CEO, handing the reins to Tom LaSorda.

In addition to troubled finances, the Fisker Karma was released to mixed reviews. A test model broke down during a Consumer Reports driving test, and it recalled 239 of its initial release due to a fire hazard.

Of course, any new company is bound to have problems, and a vehicle built with revolutionary technology will naturally have more issues. So far the 2012 model seems to be performing better than its predecessor, and if the manufacturer is able to overcome its financial troubles, more improvements can be expected in the future.

Fisker Review

The base model of the Karma costs about $102,000. This base is eco-friendly, featuring non-leather seats and salvaged lumber. Leather trim is available utilizing scrap leather that has scratches or blemishes that would otherwise exclude it from being used by the leather industry. The top model costs $116,000.

The Fisker Karma’s engine can run for about 33 miles on pure electric power before the gasoline engine kicks in. This gives it fuel economy of around 52 miles per gallon, which is in line with the popular Toyota Prius.

The car’s battery pack runs down the center of the vehicle, dividing the rear seats. The car’s drivetrain is unlike other hybrids; the batteries are the only things powering the wheels. The gasoline engine simply recharges the battery pack itself. The Fisker also comes equipped with a solar roof panel that helps keep the battery charged and also powers the car’s interior climate control.

Because of its fairly cramped interior, especially in the rear, the car is listed as a sub-compact. Its sleek exterior hints at speed, and it delivers: The car can reach a maximum of 125 mph and accelerates from zero to 60 in around six seconds.

The vehicle’s design has won several awards, including Time Magazine’s “Green Design” and “50 Best Inventions” awards. The vehicle itself was also listed as “Luxury Car of the Year” by TopGear magazine in 2011.

How much does it Cost to Insure a Fisker Karma?

Since the Fisker Karma is so new, there is no clear data about its cost of ownership. Estimates from MotorTrend place insurance costs at around $3,000 per year, but this figure is an estimate rather than an accurate report of pricing.

The overall cost of insurance varies from one driver to the next, but it is reasonable to assume that a Fisker Karma would be more expensive to insure than many other vehicles. The car itself is pricey, giving it a high replacement cost, and its unique mechanical structure would require specialized labor that would increase the cost of repairs. Hybrids in general tend to be more expensive to insure than gasoline-powered autos due to the cost of specialized labor.

Additionally, the vehicle is a performance car. Time will tell whether that designation causes its rates to stay high or not. Insurance costs are largely based on actual accident data, so the way that the Karma is driven will influence insurance prices for future drivers. For example, the sleek and sporty Chevrolet Corvette is surprisingly affordable to insure because it gets into comparatively fewer accidents than other sports cars. If the environmentally-conscious fans of the Fisker Karma are safe drivers, the cost of insuring this car may stay fairly low for a luxury sedan.

Nevertheless, people who drive luxury vehicles usually expect those cars to cost more to maintain and insure. If the cost of owning a Fisker Karma seems a bit high, there are many other hybrid vehicles that are cheaper to buy and not as flashy. As hybrid technology improves, a wider variety of cars will be available to fill every niche, so you’ll be sure to find the perfect match.