The Karma is reincarnated, but can it overcome the actions of its previous life?

The Karma nameplate has a rather checkered past, first appearing on an ill-fated hybrid GT sedan from Fisker Automotive in the late 2000s. After Fisker Automotive went bankrupt in 2013, the China-based Wanxiang Group Corporation purchased the assets, renamed the company Karma Automotive, and set about fixing the vehicle’s many lingering issues. Now, five years later at Auto Shanghai, Karma Automotive is ready to reveal the fruits of its labor with three new models that springboard off the original Karma’s impressive design.

Familiar Face, New Guts

The 2020 Karma Revero GT Features 535 Horsepower of BMW-Powered Goodness
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While the Wanxiang Group Corporation is based out of China, Karma Automotive is actually headquartered in Moreno Valley, a city in Riverside County, Southern California. The idea was to infuse the new Karma model line with a little Golden State sun, which would no doubt make U.S. buyers more comfortable than a “Made In China” tag.

Regardless, the updated Karma Automotive line made its big debut in China this week, and includes no less than three fresh models to ogle.

The headliner is the new Karma Revero GT luxury, a hybrid luxury four-door GT slated to go on sale in the second half of 2019.

In addition to extensive customization options for the exterior and interior, the new Revero comes with a TwinPower Turbo three-cylinder engine from BMW, which serves as a range extender for a dual electric motor powertrain.

Peak output is rated at 535 horsepower and 550 pound-feet of torque, which is good enough for a run to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.

Engine 1.5-liter BMW engine + electric motors
Horsepower 535 HP
Torque 550 LB-FT
0 to 60 mph 4.5 seconds
The 2020 Karma Revero GT Features 535 Horsepower of BMW-Powered Goodness
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That’s not too shabby for a big, heavy luxury GT car, especially with 80 miles of all-electric range on deck. It’s also a helluva lot more powerful than the original Karma’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder hybrid, which produced a maximum 403 horsepower and propelled the four-door to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds.

Outside, the Revero GTluxury looks quite good as well, bringing the original’s Henrik Fisker-styled exterior into 2019.

So far, so good, but it’s worth mentioning that the new Revero still has a way to go before winning us over.

2011 Fisker Karma
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2011 Fisker Karma

I drove the original Karma way back when it was still produced by Fisker Automotive, and while first impressions were positive - it looked great and had an awesome interior, both of which are carried over with this new model - it also felt extremely heavy and cumbersome, and it was pretty slow, too. The novel hybrid powertrain was interesting, but it also led to the Karma’s eventual downfall. The setup was just too complex, and after several recalls, poor reliability, and, uh, fires, it ended up hitting the dust bin.

But now that it’s back, we’ve gotta assume Wanxiang Group Corporation fixed those issues, especially after the release of the original Revero in 2016. Hybrid powertrain technology has come a long way in the last five years, so we remain hopeful.

We have yet to hear anything official in terms of pricing, but considering the original Karma started deep in the six-figure range, it’s likely the new model will do the same.

The Karma’s Future

The 2020 Karma Pininfarina GT Coupe is a Gorgeous EV
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In addition to the new Revero GT, Karma also revealed the Pininfarina GTcoupe, a collaborative effort with the legendary Pininfarina design house. This stylish reimagining brings the same underpinnings as the standard 2020 Revero GT, but tosses in a number of upgrades to the exterior styling and cabin design.

ASAP Shanghai Karma Gives Us a Look At Its Future With the 2020 SC1 Vision Concept
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2020 Karma SC1 Vision Concept

Finally, there’s the Karma SC1 Vision Concept, which is framed as an all-electric roadster design study. The SC1 Vision not only previews Karma’s futuristic design aspirations, but also give us a glimpse at possible up-and-coming customization options, such as “humanized communication system” that includes a number of interfaces, including touch, voice control, an eye-movement monitor, and a traditional graphics interface.

The 2020 Karma Revero GT Features 535 Horsepower of BMW-Powered Goodness
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All told, Karma hopes to bolster its offerings by bringing an open-platform model to collaborate on future vehicles and technology, such as-as it did with the Pininfarina GT.

“We will use partnerships with like-minded collaborators to accelerate out progress by acquiring and developing key technologies important to connectivity, performance, artificial intelligence, shared mobility platforms, and electrification,” said Karma CEO Dr. Lance Zhou.

While that’s something we’re seeing across the industry, it’s particularly important for a small boutique automaker like Karma, and with companies like Pininfarina pumping out all-electric hypercars like the Battista, you can bet Karma is eager to source its components wherever possible.

The 2020 Karma Revero GT Features 535 Horsepower of BMW-Powered Goodness
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In terms of sales, Karma first heads to the U.S. market, followed by the European and the Middle East markets, with a foray into Asia planned for 2021. “By gradually expanding our presence this way I am confident our company - and our products - will be well prepared for the discerning Chinese luxury buyer of the future,” Zhou said.

Would you buy a new Revero GT? What about the concepts? Let us know in the comments section below.

Further Reading

2017 Karma Revero High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Karma Revero.

Fisker Karma: TopSpeed Test Drive Exterior
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Read our full driven review on the 2011 Fisker Karma.

2019 Fisker EMotion
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Read our full review on the 2019 Fisker EMotion.

Southern California-based Karma Automotive chose Auto Shanghai 2019, the world’s largest automotive show, to usher in a new era for the company and launch its New Dawn product showcase illustrating its immediate, mid-term and long-term future.

“This is the first major auto presence for Karma in China, and marks a significant moment by ushering in a new era for the company,” said Karma CEO Dr. Lance Zhou. “Today, Karma is ready to move forward with bold steps, a chapter we call our New Dawn.”

Karma’s New Dawn Features “Shanghai Big Three”

The luxury electric vehicle automaker punctuated its design, customization and high-tech engineering capabilities by presenting three new products, a trio Karma calls its Shanghai Big Three:

A new 2020 Karma Revero GTluxury electric vehicle: it’s fast, smart, stunning in design, and will be available for sale during the second half of this year. The new car offers improved technology, performance, interior and exterior options and customization capability. It features a TwinPower Turbo three-cylinder in-line engine supplied by BMW AG to power an on-board electric generator and enhance overall vehicle performance. Karma engineers created a world-class electric drive system that alongside a series of other technological advancements enables the new 2020 Revero to be as fast as it looks.
The Karma Pininfarina GTcoupe: the first result of a partnership with Pininfarina, the iconic Italian design and engineering house. The Pininfarina team took a new 2020 Revero GT, retained the fundamental engineering parameters and then crafted a new body style, panels and interior, offering an alternative design interpretation. Typically, Pininfarina reserves the GT (Gran Turismo) designation for only in most exceptional in-house creations; this is the first time in its history that Pininfarina graced a collaborative project with its GT.
The Karma SC1 Vision Concept: a signpost to Karma’s future – one that recognizes and embraces full electrification. The roadster reimagines Karma design language for tomorrow and soon-to-come customization options, and shows the brand’s future direction based on full BEV offerings at the company’s core. The Karma SC1 Vision Concept features the best of some of tomorrow’s cutting-edge technologies with Karma’s distinctive take on integration. At the core of SC1 Vision Concept’s technological suite is a new infotainment architecture with 5G connectivity as well as a humanized communication system, which integrates touch, voice, eye, and graphical interfaces to enable seamless interaction with the roadster.
“Taken together, our Shanghai Big Three shows what Karma is today, what Karma can be tomorrow, and where Karma is heading in the future,” Zhou said.

Karma Is More than Just a Car Company

As part of its Value Forward business strategy, Karma is pursuing an “open-platform” philosophy to attract partners, technology and know-how, create efficiency and enhance long-term brand value. Karma’s luxury electric vehicle niche and in-house engineering resources offer innovators an excellent test bed to incubate, grow and prove their emerging technologies, creating opportunities for the company to generate new revenue streams for its customization and technology expertise.

“We are agile, nimble, and can move fast with a deep sense of urgency; that’s Karma’s big advantage,” he explained. “We will use partnerships with like-minded collaborators to accelerate our progress by acquiring and developing key technologies important to connectivity, performance, artificial intelligence, shared mobility platforms and electrification.”

Zhou’s plan is fueled in part by partners like Pininfarina whose design expertise helps the company accelerate product development, differentiation, and personalized customization that allows every Karma to be special.Pininfarina is attracted to Karma, Zhou added, because its luxury electric vehicle platform can help advance their growth strategy in North America, especially after opening a new design center in Los Angeles.

“This kind of collaboration illustrates Karma’s open-platform philosophy,” Zhou said. “Partners can use our product platform as an incubator to test and prove their new innovations, and likewise, our engineering and design resources can be offered to help other partners advance their needs.So, yes, Karma is a car company but Karma is not just a car company.”

Growing Good Karma

The Karma Automotive story started in 2014 when The Wanxiang Group, a multinational automotive components manufacturing company with headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, founded the business. Today, Karma employs nearly 1,000 people across four sites:

Global Headquarters: Irvine, Calif.
Karma Innovation & Customization Center: Moreno Valley, Calif.
Detroit Technical Center: Troy, Mich.
Karma China Design & Engineering Center: Hangzhou, China
“We have the advantage of private equity backing from extremely supportive owners who are allowing us to grow the business progressively and smartly,” Zhou said. “We are focused on a gradual, but progressive rollout strategy aimed at putting the building blocks of a car company in place – a growing dealer network, committed supply chain, craft center and a talented workforce.”

By establishing Karma in the U.S. first – the world’s most demanding luxury market – Zhou said he believes the company can succeed anywhere. “Karma will be live in Europe and the Middle East next year and then Asia,” he added. “We will be in China by 2021. By gradually expanding our presence this way I am confident our company – and our products – will be well prepared for the discerning Chinese luxury buyer of the future.”

The Karma Innovation and Customization Center (KICC)

Karma chose to headquarter and build a craft production facility just 60 miles from its global headquarters in Irvine, Calif., to purposely and meticulously build one-of-a-kind cars.

Representing a total investment of more than $100 million, Karma’s innovation and customization hub first came to life in 2015 and now comprises the very latest in automotive technology and tooling over a sprawling 556,000 square feet under one roof in Moreno Valley, Calif.

“The name, Karma Innovation and Customization Center, reflects our future focus and growing skillset centered on innovation, customization and technology integration,” Zhou said. “KICC’s skilled workforce take great pride in delivering distinctive luxury electric vehicles with world-class design, technology and personalization.”

Karma’s exclusive design and craftsmanship allows it to take customization to a new level enabling every Revero to be special, and supports a fundamental commitment to unrivaled customer treatment. KICC will also house a VIP Customer Experience Center offering every Karma owner a personalized look into the company’s focus on luxury, high technology, customization and special treatment.

California’s Shining Star

With the Shanghai Big Three, especially the new 2020 Revero GT, Karma seeks to firmly establish itself as an authentic and credible player in the luxury electric vehicle segment – the only automaker, Zhou notes, who is actually designing, engineering, marketing and handcrafting vehicles in Southern California.

“While many other business have left our region in search of less regulation and easier paths, Karma chose to do business in California for the long term,” Zhou said. “Karma and California are united in spirit. This is home to innovators, entrepreneurs and big thinkers; a land where anything is possible and where the next generation of luxury will come from. That’s why I want Karma to become California’s shining star.”

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