Tuesday, June 03, 2008

I'm in love

I have a new object of affection... It's the Karma, by Fisker Automotive

Some of you probably know that I became slightly obsessed with electric cars and plug-in hybrids after I watched the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? a couple of years ago. I started writing to Utah State agencies, asking them to make the entire state fleet plug-in hybrids.

Plug-in hybrid cars are a great idea--they use the existing infrastructure, you can recharge them at night (when the US has a largely unused electrical capacity), and they're zero emissions when running on electricity (of course there are still emissions from the fuels used to generate the electricity, but 20% of the electricity generated in the US is nuclear, and we're getting more wind and geothermal as well). They also have the best of both worlds--I can go long distances with my gasoline engine, but most of my driving can be all electric.

According to the US Department of Transportation, 80% of Americans travel fewer than 50 miles per day. A plug-in hybrid or electric car could handle all of that mileage without using any gasoline. Using electricity is cleaner than using gasoline. According to studies by the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, electric vehicles reduce CO2 emissions over internal combustion engine vehicles by 37%-67%. Refining oil creates a significant amount of pollutants before we even get to burn the oil in the engine, so it's a double whammy. Additionally, we can locate coal-burning power plants further away from large density population centers, thus reducing the health consequences of smog in the Salt Lake and Utah valleys, as well as other cities around the world. Driving plug-in hybrids would save consumers money - the cost to purchase the same amount of traveling power in electricity as gasoline is roughly half. And getting relatively cheaper as oil prices continue to climb.

In fact, the world's supply of oil is not keeping up with demand, especially as developing countries like China really come on line and their demand for oil grows dramatically (as the following charts show). And although the US is by far the world's largest consumer of oil, we're also probably the most efficient (when analyzed on a barrels / GDP basis), and our efficiency continues to increase, but not at a fast enough rate to compensate for global supply and demand mismatches.

I think we have to do something. And so I pined away for the Chevy Volt for quite a while... but then I discovered the Fisker Karma and fell in love all over again.

The Karma is revolutionary--it has a gorgeous design and great specs:
  • It can go 0 - 60mph in less than 6 seconds
  • It gets 50 miles of electric range per day on a single charge
  • The solar panels on the top of the car help recharge it and also handle climate control without burning fuel
  • Its combustion engine doesn't drive the vehicle, rather it regenerates the battery--this means that the car doesn't have to have a traditional transmission or drive train, so it is less likely to break down
The only real drawback to the Karma is the price... a mere $80,000! Who says money can't buy me love?


  1. $80K?! For the same price we could build our own power plant (or a piece of a power plant) or hire a personal rickshaw driver--no emissions and good conversation on your commute.

  2. It's true that right now plug-in hybrids are pretty expensive, but, like any new technology, the prices will come down quite a bit over the next five to ten years. The most expensive part of the car is the battery, which is probably $10K by itself. As battery technology improves, I think we'll see good plug-in hybrids in the $25-$30k price range by 2015.

  3. Carolina, of course I remember you! It's not every day your roommate marries her step-uncle! Just kidding, I love you guys! It's so fun to see you guys are doing well and you have a cute little boy and a law degree! Impressive! Keep in touch! (and you can deleat my comment if that was offensive- I just thought you were so much fun to live with while you guys were dating and so were we).