First Words — 01 December 2012
On the road to a green – and stylish – future

Each week I separate the plastics from my trash and put them into a blue recycling bin. I drop the week’s newspapers into a green bin, and place it by the curb, too. I keep the thermostat on 78 in summer, 68 in winter; I share a ride whenever I can…

Being eco-friendly has never been particularly fun.

Not that I’m looking for it, but it has never gotten me much attention, either – let alone turned a head or rated a thumbs up. That is, not until I slipped behind the wheel of a Fisker Karma EcoSport and drove into South Florida traffic. (“Green with Envy,” pg. 30).

On my test drive of “The World’s First Electric High Performance Luxury Vehicle,” I averaged 409 miles per gallon. I did not pollute the air or contribute to our nation’s dependence on foreign oil sources or cloud the atmosphere with carbon emissions.

I also turned heads, got thumbs up – and had fun.

That’s not something I generally associate with being environmentally conscious. I’ve always thought driving a hybrid meant driving a car that looked more like a toaster oven than an Aston Martin DB9 or a BMW Z8. That I’d look more like Begley than Bond.

“A car is about freedom,” says Henrik Fisker, Executive Chairman of Fisker Automotive Inc., whose resume includes designing the Aston Martin DB9 and BMW Z8. “It should take you as far as you want to go in it.”

I talked with Fisker last month while he was in town visiting Karma owners. The hybrid plug-in/gasoline super cars have been for sale for a year now, and there are already about 200 on the road in South Florida, says Robert Manrique, General Manager of Fisker Miami.

Celebrity drivers – Leonardo DiCaprio, Ashton Kutcher and Justin Bieber, among others – have given the Fisker Karma some buzz over the past year. “Leonardo was an early investor,” Fisker says, and the star is using the car in an upcoming movie, Runner, Runner, now filming in Puerto Rico.

But beyond the celebrity sizzle, Fisker says he thinks we’re all looking for ways to live healthier, to be part of a solution to environmental challenges, and to do good. But we also want to look good doing it.

The Fisker Karma does look good, from the solar cell on top (which powers the air conditioning) to the Circuit Blade aluminum wheels below; from the grill with a Cheshire-cat grin in front to a trunk-lid mounted rear-view camera worthy of Q in back. If you’re looking for a present this holiday season among our suggestions for gift giving throughout this issue, you could earn points – and $7,500 in Federal Tax Credit – tying one up with a green bow for the stylish environmentalist on your list.

Seeing it – and driving it – actually filled me with hope for the future. That we’re smart people, that we’ll be able to figure out our current challenges, and that we’ll look good doing it, too.

“What we’re trying to do is fit into that lifestyle,” Fisker says. “[That you’re] indulging yourself but also thinking about others at the same time.”

A car should take you as far as you want to go, he’d said. If it takes us to a more caring, environmentally conscious and stylish place, that would be far enough.

Mark Gauert

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