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When photos of Justin Bieber's chrome-covered sports car began circulating earlier this year, the auto got a lot of attention—mostly because it looked like nothing people had ever seen before. Turns out, the vehicle was made by Fisker Automotive, a brand-new, eco-focused American car company based out of Anaheim that, in just a year, has found clients in Leonardo DiCaprio, Pixar head honcho John Lasseter, Cee Lo Green, Alicia Keys, Colin Powel and Al Gore.
Fisker's director of corporate communications, Russell Datz, explains that the auto's popularity is due to its novelty—it's a sexy sports car that's also a plug-in hybrid. Designed by Henrik Fisker, who has created cars for BMW and Aston Martin, the Fisker Karma was inspired by a chance sighting of Leo in a Prius.
Henrik is Danish, but he's a movie buff, and he was inspired when he saw DiCaprio pulling up to the Oscars some time ago in a Prius. And he thought, this guy is an A-list celebrity with wealth beyond recognition—he could be driving anything he wanted—but he chose to make a statement and drive a Prius to the awards. And he's thinking, DiCaprio should be driving something a lot more elegant than that.
So he came out with a vehicle that features a gas-powered generator that turns on when the car's battery is depleted. It also boasts other green touches, like wood paneling sourced from Orange County's 2007 forest fires, a solar panel in the roof, a leather-like interior made from a plant that "actually recycles its own waste," and a "swoopy" design that sits low and long on 22-inch tires. Karmas retails from $110,000 to $120,000 ("not terribly expensive by Hollywood standards") and to date, about 2,000 have been sold in this first year of business. Though most models have been purchased by SoCal owners, Fisker has dealt with at least one buyer in the Middle East who wanted their Karma shipped home.
Things are going well for Fisker, which was recently valued at $1 billion. They'll be tackling the mid-range market next with a style called the Atlantic that will retail for half the cost. But the Karma is still their "iconic" car. "We consider it a 'designer car,'" says Datz. "It's kind of like an Armani suit. It says everything about who we are and what we stand for."
· Fisker Automotive [Official Site]