Saturday, June 9, 2012

Karma a magnet for interest

I've had a huge amount of interest in the Karma since I've had it.  Guys at work have asked to visit the car, neighbours have come over to have a 'tour'.  At least three people have said they were going to actively do more research or visit the showroom to take a closer look.  That's to say nothing about the number of people who turn their heads (and then bodies) to stare as the Red Carmeleon drives past.  A least a dozen people (that I've seen) have been quick on the draw with their camera phones while I've been stopped at red lights too.

Most people express that their reasons for being interested is the electric propulsion, but they also know that there are other choices in the Nissan Leaf, Chevvy Volt, Ford Focus and others appearing all the time now.  I think it's the combination of electric vehicle and the epic looks that create an interesting intersection here.  If so, then I think that bodes well for the Fisker Atlantic... if this can be offered in the market at an attractive price point.  It's still a little crazy how much premium we have to pay to get electric over an ICE, but I suppose that's just the nature of things this side of the 'chasm' on the adoption curve - all the vendors are still paying down their R&D costs and what higher margins per unit.

By the way, the "epic looks" include the car's interior.  This is universally acclaimed by those visitors who have actually sat in the car.  As it did for me, the interior of the car really impresses with its luxury appointments, overall style and many other little details.  Especially on first contact, the cabin is an overload of graceful lines and colours and I think it's different to most vehicles in feeling upholstered throughout (at least in the EchoChic).  This makes the car feel much more comfy and lounge-like.  More than one visitor also commented on the welcome chimes and startup animations in the dash, which all adds up to a great impression.

From those that have actually ridden in the car, there have been expressions of cabin and ride comfort and comments about the quietness of the vehicle.  The latter is obviously helped by the total quiet of the electric propulsion, but I think the aforementioned "upholstery" makes a difference too in the cabin, and I'm sure the battery compartment also serves as a baffle.

Looks like my in-home charger rebate has gone through.  As noted in a prior post, I was a little unsure if I had covered all the bases in terms of the required paperwork, mostly because the Californian online vendor from whom I purchased the charger doesn't provide a full invoice with letterhead, logo and a bunch of items spelled out as required in the rebate application form.  Nevertheless, it appears that what I have submitted (including an email thread where the vendor says they don't have any other official sales document) has been sufficient for the BC government.  So, hopefully a cheque is now forthcoming.

I continue to really enjoy my Karma every day for my work commute.  I still have 90% of the delivery fuel left in the tank.  As I habitually never exceed the electric range of the vehicle, the only fuel usage has been a few blasts in Sports mode along the highway when I've taken the car out for a fun evening drive, and the few times that the car's management software has decided that its time to run the ICE for a bit.

It's actually a bit of a shock when the engine is started automatically in order to burn a little fuel and condition the engine.  This tends to happen when you've just entered the vehicle and hit the power button - an event that normally has absolutely no physical feedback whatsoever, as you're normally just energizing some circuits for the electric drive.  However, I've noticed that when the engine has not been used for a week or two, it starts with a bit more of a 'lurch', which torques the car a bit causing it to roll slightly on the suspension.  When you're not expecting anything, this feels like a mini-earthquake as the car shudders.  The first time it did this, I thought something had bumped the car, or (in the parkade) that someone most have shut their car door particularly vigourously.  Of course, then you hear the engine running and it's obvious what's happened.   It might be nice if there was a little icon or something on the dash that indicated that the engine was started (or even better, about to be started) for 'maintenance'. Otherwise, there is no indicator at all that the vehicle is in this mode - and the way the engine runs seems to be different to what it does in Sports mode.  I'm not sure what this programmed engine run is supposed to achieve before it is considered to have done its job, but it is normally turned off again by the time I've driven a dozen blocks down the road.  Perhaps it's just a timed thing (e.g. run the engine at and optimum RPM for 5 minutes a month), or maybe they sample telemetry that indicates whether fuel burn, air intake, exhaust gases etc. are nominal.  As usual, as a geek I'd love to know the answers to these questions out of pure curiosity, but I guess they'll remain a mystery.

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