Hybrid Fever!

Category: Design Published: Wednesday, 20 January 2010 00:00 Hits: 4109

Thirty-four years and ten high-end car dealerships later, he has created an automotive network. Now, with car designers working furiously to incorporate the most sophisticated environmentally friendly technologies into the latest cars, Sullivan has caught hybrid fever. He holds the distinction of being the number-one seller of hybrid cars in America.

It’s not just talk. Sullivan’s home is outfitted with solar panels. As a longtime surfer, he’s involved in organizations committed to cleaning up the environment. So, when he and Fisker Automotive, the Irvine, California-based maker of the sensuous, eco-friendly Karma, announced their partnership in November, it was a match made in hybrid heaven.

Sullivan’s admiration spills over for Henrik Fisker, the Danish-born head of Fisker Automotive and an Art Center College of Art and Design alum. “Henrik designs sexy cars. Yet, he comes from a country that doesn’t have a lot of natural resources,” says Sullivan, pointing to the causes of Fisker’s green tendencies. The car “represents a masterpiece. It’s a spectacular combination of sensual design and breakthrough technology,” he adds.

Fisker Automotive is the first hybrid luxury American car company positioned to reestablish the American market as a leader in premium cars. There are several pluses to the Karma’s design, according to Fisker. Existing hybrids have batteries with a limited mileage range that have to be recharged, whereas the Karma is a plug-in electric car with an on-board generator that can extend the mileage range for long-distance driving.

Also, asserts Fisker, the Karma’s four-door beauty rivals the style normally seen only in two-door super sports cars. It’s priced competitively to go head to head with the BMW 750 iL, the Maserati Quattroporte, and the Lexus LS460.

The Karma’s interior has wood trim that comes from reclaimed wood retrieved from areas blighted by California forest fires, and its 10-inch touch control screen uses haptic force feedback: when the screen is touched, the user feels a vibration.

At the moment, many see hybrid technology as the best way to decrease America’s dependence on oil and the release of millions of tons of carbon dioxide each year into the atmosphere. For Fisker, a logical question ensues: why not make environmentally friendly cars without compromising on styling or power?

“I was inspired by some of the most beautiful cars in the world, which is the reason that I fell in love with cars in the first place,” says Fisker, citing a memory of the first time he saw a Maserati during a car ride with his father.

Excitement builds for Karma’s arrival. “We’ve pre-sold 150 cars in the Los Angeles area and the list keeps growing,” says Sullivan. The first Karmas will roll off the lot at the end of 2010.

Sullivan’s stellar track record in the premium car marketplace is a perfect fit for Fisker’s vision. “We couldn’t ask for a better partner,” says Fisker.