Saturday, April 28, 2012


Some more driving today to acclimate to the car.  Starting to get a little more comfortable with where it is in the road now, but I slightly underestimated the curb distance when drawing up at a low curb for a trial park. There were still a couple of centimetres, but I thought I was 6 inches off - I'll have to be careful about that.

One nice feature that I've had in a few recent vehicles is the dipping of the passenger-side door mirror when the car is in reverse in order to view the position of the wheels in relation to the curb.  The Fisker Karma doesn't (yet) have that feature, but perhaps if it's as flexible a platform as I'm hoping, then things like that could be added.  We'll see.  In fact, I've often thought in the vehicles with this feature, that it would simply be nice to have a 'parking mode' where the mirror dips regardless of being in a forward or reverse gear (sometimes you're cruising into a curbside park without any reversing at all).  So, perhaps there's a way for Fisker to actually improve on this feature with a simple soft-button that puts mirrors into a temporary preset parking position.

I'm starting to 'open the envelope' a little on the road and therefore get a real feel for the handling and performance.  This is a great car to drive.  It's a heavy car of course, unlike the R8, but it's no slouch off the line even in "Stealth" mode and the handling is actually wonderful.  Balanced and smooth in the corners, it feels like it is on rails and actually there's an illusion of going slower than you are actually traveling.  West Vancouver's Marine Drive and "Sky to Sky" highway are two classic drives in these parts where I always enjoy taking a new set up wheels.  There are plenty of bends but also little stretches to accelerate a bit, including rather more duel-lane sections than when the road was modeled for the game "Need for Speed", thanks to the pre-Olympic infrastructure upgrade given to the road.

Aside from driving, I managed to get a few remaining set-ups completed today:
  • I called Sirius and transferred my subscription from the Audi to the Karma.  They had the audacity to charge me over $40 for the privilege, despite how inconsequential and simple that is to accomplish, and the fact that as a 3-year package subscriber, I was pretty much locked in.  I might have some things to think about when my Sirius subscription comes up for renewal at this end of this year.
  • I bought a new 64Gb USB flash stick in the hope that the car would accept this as an appropriate bulk storage medium for my iTunes library (which is fairly big at this point).  I thought I would start by just doing a file copy of my entire iTunes music library, omitting the obvious video directories ("TV Shows" and "Movies").  This ended up being 54Gb and took a few minutes to copy to the flash drive.  I was a bit apprehensive that this would work - firstly from the size of the drive and secondly the file formats from the Apple world.  My 2010 Audi did not read large format media (greater than 16Gb apparently) and did not work with iTunes' .m4p/.m4a files, which made getting my iTunes library into the vehicle other than via the iPhone link pretty awkward.  Anyway, to my very pleasant surprise, the Karma devoured the large directory structure, which took a short while (without any user feedback that it was doing anything), but as far as I can tell everything works!  Even the cover art seems to appear for a lot of the music, so the Karma is evidently well educated in the iTunes music library structure.  That makes complete sense given the enormous popularity of iTunes, but it was far from a given - well done Fisker!

I learnt a few more little details about the car's behaviour today as well.  It looks like the seat position recovery seems to work when you hit enter Accessory mode if you entered the car with "Easy Entry/Exit" turned on.  If you go straight to "On" mode, the seats seem to stay in the entry position.  That's probably so you are not driving with everything still moving, but I would have thought that they could still allow the seats to move until the vehicle is moved out of Park mode.

Also, the automatic door mirror folding, which I wasn't sure of, appears to be linked to the exit timing.  The mirrors fold some time after you have exited the vehicle and locked it.

At the time of writing, Fisker's documentation is acceptable, but not outstanding... in the sense that many details like these are completely missing.  I'm sure it's tough keeping up with lots of change and there's also the cost of producing what would obviously be a much larger set of manuals, if all the details were included.  Being in software management, I know this to be tricky with a fast moving target.  I don't know how many of Fisker's customers are tech-savvy, but online manuals and/or downloadable PDFs for reading on computers, tablets and smart phones would, I think, be quite acceptable in this day and age anyway.  That would perhaps also further boost Fisker Automotive's green credentials.  

On the subject of the standard (premium) audio system in the EchoChic, I played a bit today with the sound, given my new access to high-quality audio media.  I was spoiled in the R8 with a mix of both the standard Bang & Olufsen system, augmented with an after-market Audion amp and sub-woofer.  Audio in the R8 always sounded great.  The Karma actually sounds rather good too.  There's undoubtedly a different ambience - the R8's interior is quite hard, whereas the Karma is wall-to-wall carpets and soft trims with the large central 'baffle' of the battery tunnel.  The sound system provides a simple equalization screen that I toyed with a bit with various kinds of music.  It felt to me like the highs needed a bit of a boost to crisp up vocals a bit  but the in any case the sound was great.  With the volume jacked a bit, stepping out the car to listen to the sound leakage I could also hear a bit of a rattle from the trunk on the bass beats - I think the trunk lid was vibrating due to the proximity of the rear central woofer.

A couple more things to investigate when I next have time (unfortunately, I'm traveling on business for half a week from tomorrow, so my Karma fun will be on hiatus).  First, I noticed that my onboard phone directory now has about three copies of every entry.  I think that's because I was messing about with my iPhone yesterday to get it working properly with Apple's iCloud - maybe this resulted in copies of contacts with different IDs.  I'll have to see if I can reset the Red Carmeleon's directory to empty and try to sync my phone again for the first time.

The second item on the "To Do" agenda is to research how to enter numbered street addresses.  I tried (while out on a drive, with limited time) to enter Fisker of Vancouver's address on West 5th Street in Vancouver.   The system didn't seem to take number characters when asking for a street in "Greater Vancouver" and neither did it seem to understand "West" as being a street prefix.  I'm sure it's easy when you know how...!

I did manage to easily select my preset "Home" special location, and so experienced the turn-by-turn navigation for the first time.  The system is growing on me, though in many ways it seems simpler than the systems currently offered on the Audi and Acura (my two most recent comparatives).  One great thing about the Fisker system IMO is that text is entered via a screen keyboard - that's like the Lexus GS I used to own, but unlike both the Audi and Acura that make use of a rotary input method.  I have always found those to be pretty awkward.  As an aside I'm always amused that car touch screen keyboards present characters in alphabetic order, whereas tablets and phones still tend to use the more 'computery' QWERTY ordering.  These devices, and computers in general, are pretty ubiquitous now - but I suppose the car industry clings to the notion that some part of its market will never have used a computer keyboard!

The Karma's navigation and indeed all voice messages are in fact produced by a phonetic speech synthesis engine.  While I don't know the facts, that seems to be different to the current practice with larger manufacturers that seem to sample longer, more specialized speech for common words and phrases used in the vehicle (such as turn notices from the navigation system).  The 'voice of Karma' isn't the highest quality speech synthesis engine, with quite a few audible synthesis artifacts and odd vocalization/pronunciation.  Nonetheless, one advantage of the system is that it speaks road names, whereas in many other systems you have simple audio messages such as "take the next right" and you have to glance at a screen to see the name of the road.

Oh yes, one last thing to research from today's experience pertains to how to balance the voice prompts with the audio system.  I've noticed that the audio system volume is attenuated when the parking system beeps, but I don't think that's true when the navigation system is speaking.  The volume of this speech follows the general volume level along with any music you are playing and seems a little low actually.  That caused me to try to find a "music off" button, but actually I haven't found that either (the mute button actually mutes the navigation directions too!).  I resorted to selecting the (unconnected) aux audio input to get complete musical silence in order to hear the navigation system as I wanted.  Maybe there's a better way?

Friday, April 27, 2012

A day later

The Red Carmeleon (I won't call it "Infernal" despite the official name of the exterior colour!) has had its first overnight charge and got me to work for the first time today.  I noticed that the battery charge was not quite indicated as 100% when I got to the vehicle in the morning (after roughly 10.5 hours of charging overnight as I was using the vehicle until about 10pm).  The battery was about half-full when I plugged it in, so I'm curious about that last indicated 2% or so of charge.  Maybe that last capacity is obtained by the tail-end 'trickle' charging as the battery approaches being full.  

Electrons only... leave those nuclei in the rocks

I'm still fiddling with my preferred driving position and of course am suffering from the usual anxieties about the size and position of the vehicle on the road (and for parking).  The Karma has ultrasonic parking assist (proximity sensors) front and back, but doesn't have a visual display of the sensor signals that some cars do, including the Audi R8.  It's interesting that I rarely looked at this display in the Audi, having learnt to trust the calibration of that system and its audio feedback, but in a new situation you find yourself wondering "Just how close am I to the wall when I hear various tones and how is that changing as I creep forward?".  Of course a display only moderately helps with this, and is still subject to calibration and interpretation, but it's an extra cue.

The rear (reversing) camera on the Karma is clear and large, but is lacking some of the annotations that are presented on some other vehicles (again, including the R8).  In the latest Acura MDX that I also own the rear view has a fixed 'perspective ladder' superimposed as a rough scale guide.  In the R8, an overlaid scale graphic is also dynamically drawn to indicate the approximate vehicle track according to the position of the steering.  I have always found that to be quite useful, particularly as an aid to reversing down a narrow track, but also when street parking.  That might be a nice touch for a future software update if the Karma platform records the steering input as a digital metric.

The car is definitely turning heads, and I'm getting even more requests to take a look at it than the R8 did. In fact I had not driven more that two blocks after taking delivery when, stopped at some traffic lights I noticed the passenger in the car behind had taken out his mobile phone and was snapping pictures on the Karma from the rear.

This evening, I spent some more time in the car and managed to configure some more preferences, including:

  • Setting the home location in the GPS
  • Naming the key fobs
  • Setting up the bluetooth connection with my iPhone
  • Storing my preferred seat and mirror positions, registered to my key fob
  • Setting "Easy entry/exit" mode.  This retracts the steering wheel and reverses/lowers the seat when the car is turned off (i.e. 'ignition' off).  I'm fairly short and like a fairly upright, high and forward driving position so this may help me swing around for entry/exit.  I'm not sure how much it wears the seat motors but I'll try it for a bit anyway.  Also, it does seem to retract the seat to the fully rear/down position, which seems a bit excessive and I wonder what's like if you have a rear passenger behind!
  • Setting auto-mirror fold mode (I have yet to see this work, though the manual button works fine). 
  • Setting up the FM stations (auto tune and store)
I also tried to register the vehicle's Sirius radio ID with my Sirius account (used in the R8), but couldn't find a way to swap the current (R8) ESN on my account with the new Karma one via the Sirius online account management tools.  I guess they want you to call customer support for this so that will have to wait until 'office hours' as Sirius doesn't offer 24h support - at least not in Canada.

Getting in to the car for this configuration in Accessory Mode I noticed a couple of curiosities.  The first is documented in one of the "Fisker Flash" news/tip sheets that I was given in a little portfolio on delivery of the car.  This pertains to the fact that the software of the onboard computer system (at least the touch screen controls and displays) takes a while to boot up.  The lawyer/disclaimer screen comes up pretty fast when you power up (ignition to Acc or On) and invites you to touch a button to accept and continue.  However, the initialization of all the software modules takes a good 20s or so, and even if you get past the welcome screen, the system will be very sluggish until everything is resident in memory and initialized.  As a computer guy, I get this (though it would be nice to have feedback to indicate when the system is actually ready for use, rather than accepting my input but offering a derated experience).  I'm hoping the 'normal' computer-like behaviour here bodes well for future feature enhancements as not everything is 'baked-in' like other automotive control systems, but I guess we'll see.

...and now a word from our lawyers

The second observed oddity pertains to the display of gas range in Accessory mode (perhaps while the vehicle is plugged into charge, as it was?).  I noticed that the refuel warning icon appeared on the dash, and the range gauge only showed 50km for both battery and total, even though I still have a full tank.  Clearly this is far from a big deal and I guess it's simply the case that accessory mode doesn't energise the gas level sensor circuit.

Looks like the Karma can't determine the gas range when in Acc mode (Battery=Total)

I introduced the car to one of the company sales guys today who's also a bit of a car fanatic.  He absolutely loved it, took lots of pictures and said he might pay the dealership a visit over the weekend.  Clearly the Karma sells itself.

Centre console between rear seats, from above.  The style accents are wonderful.

A delivery

Minus one Audi, plus one Fisker.

I took delivery of one Fisker Karma 2012 EcoChic today, in Inferno red and with the Earth Tri-Tone interior trim.  Here it is, albeit in the twilight:

This is a beautiful car indeed.  As a new company and brand, they are clearly off to a great start with the Karma.  Of course it's a very different beast from the R8.  It's not a race car, but a rather more of a GT.  The externals are eye-catching, but the interior is like a cross between a starship and a cozy modern lounge.  I don't think I've sat in anything as comfortable actually.  Every new car is a new experience of course, but I have a special feeling about this one.

Driving off in a brand new R8 was a big thrill, mostly because of the shock of the raw power, but also you have to really adapt your driving style to a true thoroughbred racer.  You discover things like the car's unwillingness to actually turn at slow speeds, due to the absolutely epic wide, essentially 'slick', wheels.  Driving off in the Karma, the essential feeling is the 'spaceship'.  The Karma is no slouch, but of course unfamiliarity of the car's dimensions and operations demands care.  The sensory experience is just totally smooth power with comfort and a strange quietness.  You can just make out the external "tron" safety sound, but the car is so well insulated that it sounds very far off with the windows up.

When you buy a car, you are also starting a relationship with the manufacturer and the dealership.  It will be interesting to see how I feel about everything (Karma, Fisker and Fisker of Vancouver) after a few months and years, but as most relationships do this is off to a good start with the 'honeymoon' period.

As a computer/software guy, I'm really hopeful that Fisker will turn out to be the Apple of modern electric automobiles.  I'm sure many other companies aspire to be something similar, even if not exactly in those terms.  Clearly Fisker want to make a positive and differentiated impact as soon as possible.  Referrals and recommendations from us 'early adopters' in the first few years of their commercial life is surely going to be very important to the company.

On the computer/software subject, I'd really like this car to be more like an Apple too in the sense of getting regular (or at least occasional) software updates with features.  Now, more and more functions in any manufacturer's vehicles are in fact managed by computers, but this is more evident than ever in the Karma.  Fisker has eschewed the traditional myriad dials and switches in favour of one big multi-function haptic touch screen.  This clearly has pros and cons.  On the downside, physical controls are complete natural for people, especially for people who are probably concentrating on driving and need to find an operate a control quickly and safely.  On the upside, a complete virtual set of controls provides the opportunity to change the interface and adapt it with new features.  I have no idea whether Fisker have any motivation or intentions to do this, but it would be both cool and innovative once they have their initial feature set completely stabilized.  If the hardware is general enough (including things like bluetooth and USB linkage and comms), then it may even be possible to offer things like iPhone and iPad apps that integrate into the Karma's systems - that would be truly exciting.

Now, in the interests of honest recording of my experiences, there are already a few minor issues to note in this blog.  I will naturally be updating the blog with news as things change with fixes as I'm told they will.

First, while having my orientation walkthrough of the vehicle, it was obvious that the AM radio reception wasn't terribly good.  Now, I do still listen to a local AM news channel habitually for my morning drive, so this isn't completely academic for me.  I was told that the reception wasn't great because we were in the showroom at the time, but in fact it's pretty bad outside too - a lot of general static suggesting a less than wonderful AM antenna configuration and break-in noise from the electric propulsion, which isn't that surprising when you consider just how much juice is coursing through some cables back there.  It could be that the AM antenna isn't connected quite properly, but equally this experience might just be all that one can reasonable expect in this kind of vehicle.

The next issue had to do with the touch screen display.  While cycling through some of the configuration screens to set up Bluetooth and some preferences, it became clear that some of the screen textures like the shadows and other accents were rendering incorrectly/corruptly.  As a software guy you instantly recognise this sort of thing as likely being a texture copy to the display memory of some incorrect memory location that was supposed to hold the texture, but instead is just some random other memory content.   Well, I made this observation before having to leave to do some of the inevitable paperwork when taking delivery of a new car.  When I returned I was told that a power cycle (lock the vehicle, wait a minute or two, then unlock) had cleared the problem.  Clearly a minor bug though.

Some display texture corruption - note speckles in the selected Vancouver option 

Finally, and perhaps most alarming (whether or not this is deserved), the engine warning light is currently displayed in my car.  I'm told that this is nothing to worry about and will be fixed in an upcoming software update.  Watch this space.

Naughty engine warning light

I am compelled to end on a high note though.  Perhaps that's an emotional need and the confirmation bias hormones must be coursing through my veins by now ;-)  But no, this car really feels different in so many good and exciting ways.  To summarize, here are the aspects of the experience that so far have given me the little spine tingles of new-owner joy:

  • The lavish comfort that this car exudes in the cabin.  
  • The solid, smooth, quiet but eager ride.  Quite unlike anything else I've ever experienced.
  • The audio cues and feedback.  Someone has gone to great length to think about the sounds that welcome you to the cabin and that play while the system is starting up and as feedback as you use the controls.  These are gentle and musical and very 'starshippy'.  They put me in a good mood and I don't think I'm going to tire of them.  They seem to exactly fit with the character of the car.
  • The beautiful dash and display.  I haven't seen this in all ranges of ambient light yet, and I think that maybe the speedo could do with a digital readout to supplement the analogue display for accuracy.  However, these are again a lovely piece of design IMHO.
  • Even the central console/tunnel, which is only there for the entirely practical reason that it covers the hummongous battery running down the middle of the car, seems to provide a lounge-like air.  It reminds me of the central space in a Hummer, but it's the right height as an armrest and its beautifully upholstered, along with controls, storage and cupholders.  
  • The design of the illuminated PRND 'pyramid' and the colours that briefly shoot from it over the battery as you change modes. 
  • The design of the doors, with soft upholstery and the motorized, push-button activated door opening mechanism.


So, that's it for this delivery-day addition.  The car is currently charging for the first time from its 'convenience charger' in the garage and I shall find out what it feels like to drive it into the underground parking at work for the first time tomorrow.  That should be exciting as I still haven't acquired any sense of its dimensions over the smaller R8!

One last thing.  I ordered the wall mounted 240v garage charger today too.  That's a shipment from the US, but hopefully will only be a few days in getting here.  BC has a rebate scheme for EV chargers that has to be applied for separately (unlike the vehicle rebate that is applied at purchase time).  Clearly, the ability to charge the vehicle in about half the time of the 110v charger will be great and probably a practical necessity if you really would like to attempt running a vehicle 100% from electrical power only.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A choice

Hopefully, whenever you buy a big ticket item like a new car, there are some choices.  That's part of the fun of course.  

The 2012 model of the Fisker Karma comes in three models and that's pretty much the choice.  Pretty much the equipment levels differ between the lowest model (EcoStandard) and the higher models (EcoSport and EcoChic).  EcoChic, the top-of-the-line model is really only about offering the most eco-friendly interior finishing materials.  

On viewing, I really liked the styling of the EcoSport and I do very much like leather upholstery and detailing in a car.  The EcoChic eschews all animal byproducts and so its seating and finishing materials are artificial suedes from recycled polyesters.  I confess that this level of eco-friendliness is a little beyond my normal levels of concern, and to be honest I prefer the smell, texture and easy cleaning of leather.  However, both internal trim styles (ecologically called "Earth" and "Glacier"!) offered in the EcoChic are rather excellent too and there are a couple of extra unique but rather nice touches in the form of some leaf 'decoupage' detailing in the centre console and door handles.  In all likelihood then, I'll fall into the trap of going for the full Karma experience and get the EcoChic, complete with its talking points, but I think I would be very happy with the gorgeous looking EcoSport Monsoon Tri-Tone trim too.

Though there are few choices in the actual car, living halfway up a mountain does rather mean that winter tires are a bit of a necessity.  My R8 had Quattro 4-wheel drive too, though this was still inadequate on the essentially slick summer tires.  The Karma is rear-wheel drive only, which I've had before while living here (in the form of a Lexus GS), so hopefully getting the winter tires coupled with the weight of the car will be sufficient.  I'm told that another Karma owner has successfully (and allegedly easily) navigated the local mountain pass called the Coquihalla Highway on fresh snow, so there's hope.

Finally, Fisker offer a 240v home charger for the car.  This charges the vehicle in about half the time over the basic 110v plug-in charger, as you might imagine.  That seems like an important accessory to order and get installed.

A couple of slightly negative bits of news gleaned from recent surfing:
1. The Karma's low profile tyres are apparently only good for about an average year's worth of motoring.  That's probably a consequence of both the design and weight of the vehicle (the two probably being very related anyway).
2. There are rumours of a recall for the installation of a new battery pack after some units caused a shutdown of the vehicle due to manufacturing defects in some of the cells.  Supposedly this was the problem that caused the Consumer Reports vehicle to shut off shortly after they began testing it!
3. Fisker have reduced their sales targets for 2012: down to 10000 units from 15000.  However, they have announced both a new vehicle (the Atlantic) and serving a new geography (North Africa and the Middle East), so the company seems to be pushing forward at least.

A transition

I have enjoyed driving an Audi R8 V10 for several years. It's a great car, maybe even one of the best ever. It's pretty much everything you'd ask for in a super-car but it's also surprisingly practical - which is really why I have owned one. I don't collect cars, or keep special models especially for tooling around at weekends, but like many people I appreciate a really great car and have aspired to own an R8 since I first saw an article on the original V8 years back. To me, the R8 is one of the most beautiful automobiles ever made. Some people like the classic lines of Ferraris, Porsches and others, but I'm a sucker for the the squat, wide bodied hyper-modern look of the later Lamborghinis and the R8 (of course, now all owned by the VW group). I have also had a soft spot for Aston Martins (more about that in a sec).

Despite loving the R8, enjoying the thrill in the morning when I turn the key and hear that big 5.2 litre engine fire up and occasionally the joy of that resonant big exhaust note when I apply a little gas, I've also always thought that I'd probably like to own an electric vehicle - as soon as they made one that didn't suck practically, or indeed to look at. I'm an avid watcher of Top Gear, as much for the 'three men larking around' fun as for the cars, but I'm not glued to the auto press. So while I knew about the Nissan Leaf, the Chevrolet Volt and the Tesla Roadster, I had completely missed anything about Fisker Automotive. Then, out of the blue recently I came across their Karma model on the web.

I was beginning to get a little depressed about the state of automotive innovation. That's in much the same way as I have been (and still am) depressed that, while I was born at the same time as the moon landings and therefore might have had every reason to expect to observe mankind's great emancipation from our Earthly tethers, we just haven't really been bothered to do any more of that since the early 70's. I suppose the reasons are similar too - the political will has been an issue and there's an awful lot of vested interest to put a drag on determined innovation. Clearly, electric vehicles in some form or other are the only way forward - we may not wean ourselves off mass personal transport, but we surely must stop with burning fossil fuels at the insane rate we all do, just to shuffle ourselves around the place (and often for less than essential reasons).

When hybrids like the Toyota Prius started to appear, I was briefly interested. It seemed like this was the very reasonable first step - not a Big Bang, but a sensible evolution in the right direction. Unfortunately, it was clear all too soon that this really wasn't much of a step really. Fuel savings were marginal, even for those only doing short urban commuting - and I just couldn't understand why the early vehicles didn't allow plugging-in to top up the marginal battery capacity. I thought that situation would be very temporary, but it has lasted longer than I expected. Successive hybrid generations came and went. The hybrid idea caught on pretty much across all the major auto vendors, but each maintained these limitations while actually charging a considerable premium just to belong to the 'hybrid set'.

So, as the years ticked by, I found myself wondering just how much further into the future the electric revolution would actually be. The very idea of electric vehicles became something of a joke and many people like me were left wondering if we were ever going to break whatever was holding back a real step forward. Certainly, we're all aware of the limitations of automotive battery technologies, but there was also a sense that both oil prices and oil politics would need to shift too. Finally, we started hearing about Tesla, then the Leaf and the Volt (as prototypes and projects before they had product names). Thankfully, the true electric vehicle was slowly materialising. To me however, there were still a couple of issues. The practical one was range, but IMHO aesthetics were also generally lacking. Actually, the Tesla Roadster was definitely not short of beauty (at least I happen to like the Lotus look), but all the other electric cars were small/light and not particularly distinguished in classic good looks. It was as if electric cars were supposed to look frugal and practical to go with the tree hugging, or something. Now, don't get me wrong, I think the Leaf is cute and in many ways the Volt is the most striking and good looking GM car I've seen (I had a thing for Pontiacs once, but in any case they killed that brand). However, these cars aren't sports cars, let alone R8s or Ferraris.

Then I spotted the Karma online.

Here was a genuinely, strikingly beautiful automotive design mated to a legitimate (if still transitional) electric vehicle drive system. Thanks to Henrik Fisker, the back looks like an Aston Martin and the front looks like a cross between an American muscle car and an Italian supercar. It has big hips like an R8, huge wheels and flowing lines down its long length. Wow.

It wasn't too many YouTube videos and some avid article reading later that I was starting to recognise that this might be what I was looking for to do my own conversion into the electric vehicle age. I'm lucky enough to work only about 10km from where I live, so an 80km electric-only range (from a fully charged battery) is four times what I need, though there are some big hills involved in my commute. However, I would not be considering an electric vehicle if I couldn't also use it more generally, and even for some vacations and road trips. No current EV has anything like a suitable electric-only range for this. The upcoming (summer 2012) new Tesla S promises an awesome 300 miles range from full charge, but that's not quite here now, nor is there a dealer in Vancouver. Besides, for an electric-only vehicle you are naturally going to have to find a plug for an overnight charge (on 110V if you can't find a fast charge outlet!) once you've exhausted your juice - so even for the amazing Tesla S, that's just a little over the distance between Vancouver to Seattle, so no cruising down the West Coast in a pure electric just yet! However, the approach taken by Fisker (not uniquely) is to use a serial hybrid rather than just rely on batteries. I think this is an excellent compromise while we wait for battery technology to increase capacity and for charging infrastructure and technology to develop too. With Fisker's Electric Vehicle Extended Range (EVer) take on a plug-in serial hybrid, you can have your 300 miles from combined electric and gas power AND you can continue your journey indefinitely like any current generation internal combustion engine vehicle by virtue of finding ubiquitous gas stations as usual. Despite my irritations about the lack of speed of development of electric vehicles, I'm really hoping that by the time I come to change cars again in several years, the reliance on pure electric power can be much greater - even if there remains a backup gas engine present for 'special occasions'.

So. This blog is basically about the fact that I'm taking the plunge into EVs. I'm going from possibly one of the nicest internal combustion engined sports/race vehicles of all time, to an early generation but hopefully practical electric GT style car.

I do have some apprehensions about this. I'm a little worried that I'm going to miss the R8's raw character terribly, but the Karma looks like the car to do this for. To be honest I'm also apprehensive about being an early adopter AND the fact that Fisker is a brand new and still largely unknown entity. However, I'm going to have a little faith - and I certainly like some of their behaviour so far in how they have addressed teething problems and supported their customers. I'll try to blog my experiences here, in case they're interesting or useful for others, but also because I think I'll enjoy reading my own journal in the coming years...