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A daily look at what we buy, how we spend, and the companies that do right - and wrong - by their customers.

The Lux Version of Eco-Friendly

Senior consumer reporter and “Deal of Day” columnist Kelli B. Grant navigates the New York International Auto Show in search of the best, worst and coolest from automakers’ new lineups. Join her as she roams the exhibit floor Wednesday and Thursday before the show’s public opening on Friday, with dispatches here and on Twitter @kellibgrant.

Now that hybrids have gone mainstream enough that many consumers can afford them, drivers who want some elite status while saving the environment have the look a little further.

Enter the 2012 Fisker Karma, a zero-emissions sportscar with a solar-panel-embedded roof. Prices start at $102,000 for the vehicle, which first became available in December. “It greatly reduces your carbon footprint,” says a spokeswoman. “You never even have to use the gas engine if you don’t want to.”

But those solar panels aren’t really meant to power the car — owners will still need to plug it between drives for a full charge. A spokeswoman says the panels primarily function to keep the car interior cool, and can cycle back power for interior accessories. Even that provides the equivalent of 200 free miles a year, she says.


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About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to or tweet @SMPayDirt.