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Unveiled Karma still holding many secrets

Folks have now been able to admire its sexy curves up close in Oklahoma. They’ve nibbled on ceviche and shrimp as they sized up its lines in Fort Worth.

Just don’t ask to peek under the hood when it arrives in Wilmington next weekend. The sporty, still-secretive Fisker Karma hybrid sedan is on the road, working to impress some well-heeled crowds this month as it makes its way closer to Delaware as part of a nationwide public relations tour.

Ultimately destined to be built at the old General Motors plant near Newport, the $88,000 car — powered by an electric motor that’s capable of startlingly zippy speeds — remains an unknown quantity of sorts, just a year or so before it’s due to be unveiled to the world. California-based Fisker Automotive, where the U.S. tour kicked off, did disclose in recent days that it has signed another key vendor in the start-up project.

Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide will supply key components and control systems for the car’s powertrain system. Called the Q-Drive, the gadgetry is also shrouded in the language of proprietary murkiness — the company describes it only as a system that “takes full advantage of the performance potential of electric drive systems while achieving high fuel mileage and low emissions through its integrated plug-in hybrid electric design.” Quantum is continuing its testing and validation of the Q-Drive, which is expected to begin production later this year.

In the cities that the Karma has visited so far, there has been little showing off of the high-tech aspects that have earned it millions in start-up money and many hopeful proclamations. In Tulsa, where it arrived by car-carrier May 7, the Karma was started up and driven into the showroom, then admired by the crowd — all customers who had put down deposits already. “The customers were surprised at the size. It was bigger than they imagined,” said Tom Bloomfield, general manager at Don Thornton Cadillac, Saab, and now, Fisker as well. “It’s just a beautiful car in person.


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