Electric vehicle startup Karma Automotive has fully revealed its new hybrid car, the GS-6. While it shares the same design as the company’s ultra-luxurious sedan, the Revero GT, Karma is pricing the GS-6 at nearly half the price ($ 83,900) in an attempt to reach a much broader set of customers. .
Karma says it can do that because it plans to make more cars at its California production plant, is making them more efficiently and has optimized its supply chain, according to public relations director Jeff Holland. “It helps that our parent company also owns our battery supplier A123 Systems, but in recent years we have also seen a substantial reduction in the cost of lithium-ion batteries and other components related to electric vehicles, including other items. like motors and generators, Holland said The edge in an email.
If the new car is successful, Karma could finally achieve its goal of becoming a small-volume manufacturer just in time to capitalize on a new wave of optimism (and financing) in the electric vehicle space.
The path to that goal has been difficult so far for Karma. The startup was born in 2014 when the Chinese auto conglomerate Wanxiang Group bought most of Fisker Automotive’s assets following that bankruptcy of the company. Wanxiang named the new startup after the Fisker Karma, the defunct hybrid sports car from the defunct company, eventually reviving that vehicle as the Revero. (Henrik Fisker, who founded Fisker Automotive, now has a new company called Fisker Inc. that is also working on electric vehicles.)
Karma has spent the past few years selling a small number of Revero hybrids for nearly $ 150,000 while struggling to really stand up, as Wanxiang reportedly talked about fully supporting the startup, as JalopnikJason Torchinsky has reported. The startup has been accused of making prototypes that are basically “movie props,” and it may even have considered filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year. (Karma has denied both claims). Karma also laid off more than 100 employees in the past two years and took out a PPP loan of more than $ 5 million from the government in 2020.
The GS-6 is meant to help lift Karma out of that confusion by attracting a potentially much larger pool of buyers. It’s powered by a BMW-sourced turbocharged three-cylinder engine and two electric motors that, in total, generate a total of about 536 horsepower – the same powertrain found in the Revero. A 28kWh battery pack lets you drive up to 80 miles on electricity alone.
The interior features a touchscreen in the center of the dash, which is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a digital driver’s instrument cluster. Karma says it is also sourcing a host of sustainable materials for trim and seats, in an attempt to attract more conscientious buyers. Karma will sell a Sport and Luxury version of the GS-6, and an all-electric version (dubbed the GSe-6) will later start at $ 79,900.
“We don’t sell PowerPoints anymore, we sell real cars,” Joost de Vries, Karma’s vice president of global sales, said in a conference call with reporters last week. De Vries explained that Karma hopes to target younger buyers with the lowest price, as well as more, with a total production capacity of 15,000 cars per year at the California factory. That said, De Vries was quick to point out that the startup has retained many of its older existing clients whose Revero leases have expired. Karma is “starting to really feel like a more well-rounded automaker here in the United States,” he said.
While Karma has spent time and money developing autonomous technology (it even created a supposedly autonomous van last year), de Vries said it is not expected to reach the startup’s passenger cars anytime soon. The GS-6 line will have optional driver assistance features like adaptive cruise control and lane keeping, but nothing else. “We’re not seeing anything in our near future at level three or level four,” de Vries said, referring to the Society of Automotive Engineers designations for hands-free driving and driverless capability within a given area, respectively. “It’s on the roadmap, but I think we still want to wait a decade or so before the legislative issues are resolved, and our clients are not really asking for it.”
Karma also participates in many other advanced technologies. The startup has shared that it is working on a way to use methanol and hydrogen fuel cells to power future electric vehicles. It also hopes to sell the technology platform that powers its cars to other automakers. Work is also in progress on an SUV.
To fund all of this, Karma announced last July that it had raised $ 100 million. That announcement came at the start of a wave of publicly traded electric vehicle companies merging with special-purpose acquisition companies (including Fisker Inc.). But until now, Karma remains private. “Our management team is exploring all avenues for further financing with investment bankers. And of course, the IPO has always been an aspiration for Karma when it is ready to go public, but for now the key focus is growing our business, “said a spokesperson. The edge At the time.