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Electric Car Ventures Attracting Premier Silicon Valley Investors

Purportedly capable of hitting 0-to-60 in under 6 seconds, the plug-in hybrid Karma can hit 125 mph. The company hopes to sell 15,000 of the luxury electric cars annually.

Published: 14-Jan-2008

DETROIT -- The race to develop an electric car is heating up and drawing increasing interest from the same venture-capital investors who helped build Silicon Valley.

The latest entrant is expected to be announced today at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit when Fisker Automotive Inc. unveils an $80,000 battery-powered luxury car it aims to begin delivering in late 2009. The Fisker Karma, a so-called plug-in hybrid, can go 50 miles on electricity before a small gasoline engine kicks in to generate electricity to charge a lithium-ion battery pack on board. The company has backing from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, perhaps Silicon Valley's best-known venture-capital firm and a backer of household tech names such as Netscape Communications, Amazon.com Inc. and Google Inc.

The announcement comes at a show in which auto makers are scrambling to offer alternatives to traditional gasoline-fueled vehicles. Auto makers also announced plans for next-generation diesel-powered cars and efforts to develop more ethanol-based fuels.

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