Creative Marketing for Electric Vehicles


In the film Paranoia, Harrison Ford’s character gives the character of Liam Hemsworth a new range extended luxury sedan. This is one of the novel ways that the automaker is marketing its vehicles. It also helps that known celebrities such as Leonardo di Caprio and Justin Bieber own one and top rated sitcom Two and a Half Men, specifically Ashton Kutcher’s character, drives around in one.

There is a well known business transaction in the car industry called the trade in. This involves giving the dealer the old car and the equity value which would then be used as down payment on a newer model vehicle. This route is being utilized by electric automaker Tesla Motors. The difference is, only those individuals that own the first model vehicle from the company would be able to trade in for a newer model Tesla. This involves selling the two-seater Tesla Roadster and a substantial discount would be received on the brand new Tesla Model S.

This is a novel approach, as these kinds of trade in deals provide a convenient way that a buyer can dispose of their old cars. The drawback would be the trade in value is much lower compared to sales prices of these vehicles. Once the old car is traded in, the vehicle is then sold at a used car auction for a sure profit.

Tesla has also modified this age old transaction. There is no dealer as Tesla facilitates the exchange. The valuation is very accurate because of the detailed service records and diagnostics undertaken on the vehicle. Furthermore, Tesla does not intend to dump the Roadsters to a used car lot but instead would offer the traded in Roadsters in its stores.

Since the Tesla Roadster numbers just 2,600 throughout the world, the value of the electric vehicle remains high. It is estimated that a four year old Tesla Roadster with just 31,000 miles would sell at about US$73,300.

With this on hand, former Tesla Roadster owners can end up purchasing the Model S at about US$100,000 plus plus, depending on the options included. The base price though is at US$57,400 and with the value of the 2010 Roadster at an all time high, Tesla may end up paying the car owner the difference.

Upgrades are available as an option for the Roadster, allowing Tesla owners many more options, such as the trade in, the upgrade or the outright purchase. Novel ways to extend the life of these iconic vehicles.

The Allure of the Fisker Karma


Chelsea held its annual Luxury Review, where high priced items such as apparel, jewelry, liquor, confections and motor vehicles are showcased. Front and center at the Metropolitan Pavilion on West 18th Street was the Fisker Karma. This US$100,000 plug-in hybrid sedan is still the star of the show.

One of the major components of this plug-in hybrid sedan is its lithium-ion battery array supplied by A123 Systems. Just recently, the battery maker had just sought bankruptcy protection. According to Richard Beattie, Chief Commercial Officer for Fisker, “I learned about it when everyone else did.” He made the remarks during an interview during the Chelsea event and admitted he has not made any contact with Johnson Controls, the eventual purchaser of the automotive assets and factories of the bankrupt company.

Beattie does not expect any issues with the closure of A123 even it if the company is the single supplier of battery systems for all its Karmas. He said, “Like any bankruptcy, suddenly some contracts become null and void, but A123 is still here and I’m not concerned about matters of supply.”

A123 and Fisker share similar stories, as these two start-up companies were able to secure loans from the Obama administration. Both companies announced financing successes and at the same time experienced recalls of its marketed products. Fisker has been singled out by the Republican Presidential campaign as a clear example of the federal government’s lack of business acumen. As proof of such debacles, Fisker has failed to meet its performance based preconditions to the loan grant from the Department of Energy.

Beattie admits though that the company does not have the same flexibility as large corporations would have, especially when a critical supplier suddenly closes shop. Despite these difficulties, Beattie highlighted the company’s adaptability.

This was seconded by Fisker’s VP for Global Design in saying, “We cannot at any time be focused on one supplier. We have to be flexible.”

The company is restarting its midsized luxury car program after a push back to allow the company to raise much needed capital financing. This new vehicle was previewed in last April’s New York Auto Show, codenamed the Atlantic concept. Newly appointed CEO Tony Posawatz told investors in a conference call that the Atlantic “would be the company’s path to profitability.”

Klatt declared that the A123 battery pack is not part of the Atlantic’s overall design. He said “The A123 pack doesn’t fit naturally in the Atlantic. The car is already completely engineered and we’re focused on two or three suppliers. Soon we’ll be able to move forward.” He cited that the Atlantic has a shorter wheelbase compared to the Karma and said that it is a power train solution and not a battery solution.

Top Ten Plug Ins for 2012


Top 10. The expanded market Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt. As new markets in Canada and the UK receive the Opel Ampera, the European version of the Volt, the market base is expected to increase. As for the Leaf, it would also start to show up in Nissan showrooms in the UK and other fifty states in the United States.

Top 9. The SmartforTwo Electric Drive. The Smart Car builder Daimler has said that it would be launching its third generation SmartForTwo Electric Drive car in thirty new markets by the fall of 2012. The delay from the original summer 2012 launch was due to quality control issues with its battery supplier Li-Tec.

Top 8. The Honda Fit EV. This EV from Honda was scheduled to be released in Oregon and some parts of California by the summer of 2012, with only 1,100 scheduled to be built in the next three years.

Top 7. The Mitsubishi i. This is the updated version of the MiEV and is available in both Japan and the United Kingdom since the start of 2012. Costing just about U.S.$29,125 before the application of the incentives from state and federal law, this is clearly one of the most affordable EVs in the market today.

Top 6. The Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid. The Prius Goes Plural campaign in full swing, the Japanese car giant has offered this new hybrid version to its current stable of hybrid models.

Top 5. The Ford Focus Electric. The market ready ones would become ready for the market by the spring of 2012. This is the first pure electric vehicle from one of the Detroit Big Three carmakers.

Top 4. The Fisker Karma. Despite the delays, the Fisker Karma has now become available. The first ones though need to be recalled for some minor repairs but the current issues of the company may eventually make this car an endangered species, especially with its six-figure purchase price.

Top 3. The Toyota RAV 4 EV. This is the joint venture project between Tesla and Toyota. The first few vehicles would become available in California, hopefully by mid-2012.

Top 2. The Ford C-Max Energi. This is a plug in version of the Ford C-Max wagon. This vehicle is scheduled to become available in the United States within 2012 while Europe would have to wait until 2013.

Top 1. The Tesla Model S. This is one of the longest waiting lists for cars in history, with 6,500 individuals placing their order together with U.S.$5,000 two years before its actual availability. This vehicle is one of the most awaited releases for 2012.

Fisker Karma Recalled


Fisker Automotives, the builder of the plug-in hybrid 2012 Karma, has recalled all its units because of a possible coolant leak issue. Each of the units has a sticker price of $100,000 and only fifty units have been sold.

The coolant issue is a result of the improper installation of hose clamps to the vehicle’s battery array. This causes the coolant to leak and may result in a fire. When coolant enters the battery compartment, an electric short can occur that can result in a fire. According to the company, there have been no reported incidents with the Karmas it has sold to the public.

To address the issue, the company would replace the whole battery pack of the Karma. The company has already built 239 Karmas, with fifty already in use by purchasers. All these vehicles would be replaced.

The Fisker Karma is manufactured at Valmet Automotive in Finland. The Environmental Protection Agency has rated the fuel economy of the vehicle at 52 miles per gallon or 4.5 liters per hundred kilometers at all electric mode. In gasoline mode, the vehicle has a rating of 20 miles per gallon.  Despite its good exterior, the Fisker Karma is considered as a subcompact.

The vehicle gets its power from a couple electric motors that produce a total of 403 hp. The electric motors get its fuel from a 22kilowatt lithium ion battery built by A123 systems. It also gets its power from a 2.2-liter gasoline engine that turns a 175 kW generator. The unique design of the Karma is the mating of a generator to the motors that also recharges the battery through the mechanical driving force of the wheels. This design was made by Quantum Technologies, called the Q-Drive hybrid drive train.

An additional power source of the Fisker Karma is the solar paneled roof created by Asola Advanced and Solar Systems GmBH. This solar generator also helps in recharging the battery array aside from assisting in the cabin’s climate control system. The solar array is able to produce half a kilowatt of power a day and adds up to five miles of range distance per week. As an add-on, the company can provide a solar panel installation to allow the home to charge the Karma entirely off the grid.

Before the recall, the company reported that the company has received a total of 1,300 orders for the Karma. It is also one of the priciest models of electric vehicles in the market today and was first unveiled in the 2010 Paris Motor Show.