This weekend’s Wall Street Journal featured a story on the magnificently expensive plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) the Fisker Karma, topping the charts at 100K+. The first line in the article reads, “This car might be your worst nightmare.” For those of us hoping to see mass EV adoption, this car is our worst nightmare.
To be fair, the Karma is an amazing car in many respects. Unique styling, the use of rare hardwood salvaged from the bottom of Lake Michigan (seriously), and some pretty awesome performance numbers (0-60 in under six seconds). The problem is that PHEVs – and extremely expensive and impractical ones at that – are not making the legitimate and good case for mass EV adoption.
PHEVs are often more expensive than EVs such as the Nissan Leaf, and tend to have little-to-no useful electric range (mpg-e).
The Karma’s mpg-e is EPA estimated at 32 miles. This means, practically speaking, that the majority of owners will need to rely on the gas backup during trips. In addition to the limited range, the EPA classifies the Karma as a subcompact, thanks to its little usable space.
I realize that it may seem like I am being harsh to the Karma. It is after all elegant and sexy. The problem with the Karma is that it’s price tag makes it an eco plaything for the rich. Cars such as the Karma show the car buying public the worst electric cars have to offer and do little to advance the notion that EVs can be practical and affordable cars for a majority of the population.
We need to focus the discussion on truly useful, practical, and affordable EVs if we are to have any hope of mass EV adoption.