The Bugatti Veyron at the Seattle Auto Show, courtesy of Barrett-Jackson Auctions. Capable of achieving in excess of 200 mph, it fascinated all ages - but especially children. The show was staged from November 14th through 18th. (Photo by Terry Parkhurst)
Most of the children were leading their parents towards the second floor of the Century Link Field Event Center, where the Bugatti Veyron and the two McLaren supercars were parked. But one little boy paused as his father tried to lead him away from a Honda Insight hybrid.
“Is it a ‘green’ car?” he asked his dad, who responded negatively. “Then, it isn’t for me.”
Maybe dad needed to take his son over to where the Fisker Karma was being explained by Andy Meyer, sales manager for the Fisker store in Bellevue, Washington.
Andy Meyer, sales manager for Fisker of Bellevue (Washington), talks about the solar panels on the roof of the Karma. (Photo (c) by Terry Parkhurst)
The Bellevue store is one of 45 Fisker dealerships across America, said Meyer, who added that about 1,500 examples of the Karma have been sold, mostly to buyers in Europe, China and the Mid-East.
The Karma, while a hybrid is not the typical hybrid, Meyer explained. In response to a journalist’s pointing out that it looks like an Aston-Martin, Meyer mentioned that Henrik Fisker had designed some of the most notable Aston-Martins in recent years; so it was no coincidence. He added that the GM-sourced, turbo-charged two liter internal combustion engine and its companion electric motor, could together take the Karma from a standing start, to 60 miles-per-hour, in just 6.3 seconds.
The Karma is built in Finland, Meyer admitted, by Valmet Automotive, the company that also builds the Boxster for Porsche. There are, however, continued plans by Fisker to build a second car, a sport sedan called the Atlantic, in Delaware. That car was expected to debut in 2013; but since the company lost its funding from the Department of Energy, it remains uncertain when that will occur.
The Karma’s main competition, the Tesla model “S” sedan was notably missing from the show. At the time of this writing, Tesla has announced a future price increase for that model, although reportedly (according to a press release), that won’t be applicable to everyone with an existing reservation. Fisker could conceivably benefit from that. Call them “pre-conquest sales.”
Perhaps the best example of how a major auto manufacturer is re-engineering its product to be more efficient was over at the Toyota stand in the guise of the 2013 Avalon.
While the standard 268 horsepower, 3.5 liter V-6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission are unchanged from the previous edition, a new hybrid uses the same the 154 horsepower, 2.5 liter four-cylinder engine; coupled with an electronic motor (for 200, net horsepower, in tandem) and a CVT (continuously variable transmission) as the Camry. Burdened by less weight than its predecessor, the result is 40 miles-per-gallon. (Curb weight of the new Avalon hybrid is 3,585 pounds; the curb weight of the V6 engine equipped edition is 3,481 pounds.)
Dodge displayed what Chrysler spokesman Scott Brown called “the high point of our marriage with FIAT” in the 2013 Dodge Dart. The bodywork, which came from Dodge design studios, rides on a lengthened and widened version of the Alfa-Romeo Guilietta platform.
The Dart name was used on a mid-size Chrysler offering, from 1960 through 1976. But the newest incarnation won’t be powered by the venerable, dependable Slant-Six that made the original Dart a legend in its own right. The standard engine is a double-overhead camshaft, two-liter four cylinder engine that puts out 160 horsepower at 6,400 rpm. Then, there is a special edition called the Dart R/T – which originally stood for “road and track,” when used on Chrysler’s 1960s and early ‘70s muscle-cars – whose engine is called the “Tiger-shark.” It’s configured as a SOHC (single-overhead camshaft) engine puts out 184 horsepower at 6,250 rpm; in part, thanks to FIAT’s Multi-Air technology, designed to allow for more complete combustion of fuel.
Given that the EPA rating for the Dodge Dart R/T or “Rallye,” is 27 mpg in the city and 39 mpg, on the highway, it shows how carefully auto makers are balancing performance with efficiency. It might even convince that little boy who was such a hard sell, after seeing a Honda Civic. -- Terry Parkhurst