Boutique automaker Karma Automotive claims to be looking toward the future, but right now it’s stuck in the past. The only car Karma sells is the Revero, which dates back to the company’s previous incarnation as Fisker Automotive. As part of its resurgence, Karma will debut not one, but three new cars at the 2019 Shanghai Auto Show. The company is relying on two big names — BMW and Pininfarina — to aid in its transformation.
The first car debuting in Shanghai will be an updated version of the Revero, christened 2020 Karma Revero GT. It can’t arrive soon enough, as the current-generation Revero dates back to 2012, making it positively ancient by industry standards. The current Revero features a plug-in hybrid powertrain designed to allow the car to operate on electric power most of the time, and it appears Karma will stick with that formula. Styling doesn’t appear to have changed much, but the Revero was already one of the most dramatic looking cars on the road.
When it was launched as the Fisker Karma, the car was briefly considered to be a rival to the Tesla Model S. About 2,000 Fisker Karmas were built before Fisker Automotive went bankrupt. Chinese auto-parts company Wanxiang bought the remains of the automaker in 2014, and reconstituted them into Karma Automotive. Karma now builds the same car, renamed Revero, at a factory in Moreno Valley, California, but it will need to develop something new in order to survive.
One major change confirmed so far is the use of a BMW turbocharged three-cylinder engine, in place of the General Motors-sourced turbo-four engine currently used in the Revero. As before, the gasoline engine will serve as a generator, producing electricity rather than driving the wheels directly. The new engine works with a pair of rear-mounted electric motors, which produce a combined 536 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque. The company expects the 2020 Revero to do zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, which Karma claims is almost a second quicker than the car it will replace. Karma also predicts an electric-only range of up to 80 miles, compared to 37 miles in the outgoing Revero.
Karma also unveiled the first product of its collaboration with Pininfarina, the legendary Italian design firm that shaped classic cars like the Alfa Romeo Spider and Ferrari 275 GTB. Pininfarina is also working independently on an electric supercar called the Battista. Named after Pininfarina’s founder, the supercar boasts a claimed 1,877 horsepower and 217 mph top speed. It sounds like Pininfarina has plenty to offer Karma.
The Karma Pininfarina GT concept is a coupe based on the underpinnings of the Revero GT. That should make it relatively straightforward to put the car into production, should Karma choose to. Only the body was changed, so performance should be fairly close to the Revero GT.
The coupe will be displayed in Shanghai alongside a concept car Karma designed in-house. Called the SC1 Vision, it’s an all-electric convertible. It also features 5G connectivity and an elaborate infotainment system that combines “touch, eye, and graphical interfaces,” according to Karma. However, the automaker didn’t offer any other details on the system, or the SC1 Vision’s powertrain.
Karma faces stiff competition from established luxury brands and a host of startups looking to emulate the success of Tesla. Even Henrik Fisker — the name behind of Fisker Automotive — is getting in on the action. He has launched a new company that claims to be developing a long-range electric car using new battery technology.
Updated on April 16, 2019: Added photos and details of the three new cars.
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