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Auto review: Curvaceous Karma makes a sporty plug-in pitch

Henry Payne, The Detroit News on

Published in Business News

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Fisker Karma and Tesla Model S exploded into our lives in 2011. With stunning looks, sci-fi technology, dashing CEOs — even $500 million each in investment from the Obama/Biden administration — the four-door exotics promised a wild ride into the EV future.

But while Tesla soared, Fisker flamed out.

Burdened by a drivetrain and interior that did not match its sexy package, the alluring Karma labored around the dance floor while buyers boogied with the Model S’ ludicrous acceleration and smart tech. A decade and multiple suitors later, Karma is now married to China’s Wanxiang Group Corp. — founder Henrik Fisker having moved on.

And the Karma GS-6 has finally realized the drivetrain potential to match its looks. Even as corporate elites obsess over a trendy, zero-emissions future, my road trip to West Virginia and back with the plug-in, coal-powered Karma promises a much more livable solution.

To begin with, Mrs. Payne agreed to join me.

After the expected gasp at encountering the Karma for the first time — “Wow, that is a beautiful car!” — she immediately pivoted to: “We’re not taking another electric car on our trip, are we?”

 

My long-suffering bride is weary of spending road trips sitting in Meijer/Walmart parking lots recharging my Tesla Model 3 (or the occasional Mustang Mach-E or Audi e-tron or EV flavor-of-the-month I get to test). She’d rather be dining with family at the end of our journey than hoofing it to a nearby fast-food joint while the EV sips electrons.

“We’re eating dinner at Arby’s,” she’ll text from a fast charger with a groaning emoji. “Be there soon.”

Rather than try to reinvent the U.S. electric grid, the Karma embraces the inherent benefits of electric and gas power. Let me count the ways:

—Electric power. Taking advantage of cheap electricity at home, the GS-6 plug-in charges its 24.6-kWh lithium-ion battery pack overnight to 80 miles at 10 cents-per-kWh so you can do daily commutes on battery power alone. Easy, and you don’t have to visit a $3-a-gallon gas station.

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