We all know Fisker's in trouble. There's fires, less-than-stellar performance, an interior the size of a Geo Metro, build quality that has a real Pyongyang sort of charm, and, of course, a crippling lack of money. But holy crap is that a pretty car. The company can save her, and all they have to do is completely turn their backs on every principle the company was founded on. Easy!
Let's face it, the car and the company is, as the kids say when they stand on my lawn with their ham radios and hip-hops, a hot mess.
When it comes to thinking about something as filled with clusterfudge as Fisker, you really need to step back and distill the car and company down to its absolute essence. What matters about the Karma? Why do we give a rat's rectum about whether this car lives or dies at all?
Is it the electric-with-gas-engine-range-extending drivetrain? No. That method's not even the most efficient way to make a hybrid car by a long shot, and we sure as hell don't care about other struggling electric cars, like the Coda. Coda's in about an equal depth of shit as Fisker, but there's hardly any articles fretting about their possible demise. Hell, I'm not even sure the people at Coda care as much about the fate of their car as they do about the Fisker.
And here's why: the Coda looks like the automotive equivalent of a notary public in a windbreaker, and the Fisker Karma looks like every sleek, firm, glistening thing you've masturbated to since you were 13. So, just to make it absolutely clear to the most lightning-struck of our readers, the only thing that really matters about the Fisker Karma is the way it looks. Which is shallow, but makes Fisker's solution vastly easier:
Just put a boring old combustion engine in the thing, and let that engine drive the goddamn wheels, already.
This is not rocket science. It's clearly something people want, because Bob Lutz is already doing it, on his own. And Bob Lutz only does what he feels like doing, things that probably involve steaks and calling women "broads" and cigars and throwing that big grey-maned head back and laughing. Unlike Lutz, I'd actually suggest using some sort of diesel in there, just to keep a little bit of novelty and fuel efficiency in the mix.
There's lots of good diesels to choose from, say, BMW or the VW group, but I'd say to use an American one, because America is likely still the biggest potential market and the publicity would be good. You could go with GM's new smaller 4.5 L V8 LMK Duramax diesel, which should make over 310 HP and 520 lb-ft of torque. That's less than the 403 HP/ 959 lb-ft of the current electric setup, but when you take out all those batteries you'll definitely be able to reduce the absurd 5,300 lb weight of the car, and I suspect real-world performance would be much better. With less fires.
Plus, the Karma now only gets about 20 MPG in gasoline-burning mode, and that mode happens pretty often, since the battery charge is only good for 50 miles in the best conditions. I suspect the right diesel drivetrain could meet or exceed these numbers pretty easily.
A drivetrain swap won't be the easiest thing in the world, and it won't solve every problem, but it won't be the hardest, and it'll solve the biggest issues. The money's already used to develop the body, chassis and related tooling. Others have already figured out how to retrofit a more conventional drivetrain. Fisker should just accept that they bit off more than they can chew with their advanced drivetrain, and be happy they have a remarkable looking car that people would want to buy.
A really sexy and fast diesel sport sedan has potential to be competitive. Fisker's already got name recognition, and a reputation that could still be salvageable. If they really want to they could still crank out a token few electric ones, but that would just be for sentimental reasons. A well-sorted oil-burning Karma could become the steed of choice for a new breed of wealthy trendsetters — essentially, the same people who almost considered a Karma before they got so candy-assed about being engulfed in flames. But now they can have one that'll actually work.
Think it over, Fisker. And remember, this plan has worked for the Ambassador for decades.