Environmentalism has come a long way, baby.
Actor Leonardo Di Caprio’s sleek new 2012 Fisker Karma hybrid automobile is a far cry from the Toyota Prius. It looks more like a Jaguar than jellybean. That makes sense when you learn that it is the brainchild of Danish auto designer and CEO of Fisker Automotive, Henrik Fisker. He also designed the BMW Z8 roadster.
Some may debate how eco-friendly owning any kind of car really is, given the automobile's contribution to traffic congestion and the Earth's resources used in manufacturing vehicles. Walking, biking, or taking public transportation are much more eco-friendly. But can you really imagine a megastar like Mr. DiCaprio walking to work or riding the subway? He wouldn’t be able to move for all the fans – never mind dodging the Nikon snouts of the paparazzi.
Famous for starring roles in films like ‘Titanic,’ ‘The Departed,’ and ‘Inception,’ DiCaprio also is well-known for his commitment to saving the planet. He flies on commercial planes rather than private jets, and reportedly has solar panels on his house. He bought a Toyota Prius in 2006. Last year, DiCaprio was plugging the Tesla Roadster, a electric sports car, which sells for $109,000 (Tesla reports that 1,650 have been sold so far). At Russia’s tiger summit in 2010, he gave $1 million to the Wildlife Conservation Society. But then again, DiCaprio earns $20 million a picture. Clearly, some people are above a down economy.
Add to that list Fisker Automotive, which was founded in 2007 and has managed to prevail through the vagaries of the gobal economic fits and starts. It didn't hurt that the company received a $529 million loan from a Department of Energy program in 2009. The Fisker Karma, a plug-in hybrid luxury sports sedan, first turned heads at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, but didn’t start deliveries until 2011.
The elegant-looking machine is manufactured in Finland by Fisker Automotive of Anaheim, Calif. For a mere $95,900, you can get the base model. The Karma has a solar paneled roof that both recharges the car’s Lithium-Ion battery and runs the climate control system.
How about the gas mileage? Fisker claims the Karma gets 100 miles to the gallon – and if you only drive 50 miles a day, they say you would need to fill the tank just once per year. At 100 grand, it still doesn’t pay for itself, but that’s pretty impressive.
Even more impressive, the Karma’s top speed is 125 mph, and, in “Sport” mode, it can go from zero to 60 in 5.8 seconds. In “Stealth" mode, which is all electric, the Karma goes a maximum of 95 mph and hits 60 in 8 seconds. That’s only one second faster than the dweeby-looking General Motors EV1 electric car actor Ed Begley Jr. used to tool around in before GM crushed them all in 2002 . But hey, the Karma looks a lot cooler. And it has a much more clever name.