Karma Slashes Prices, Promises Everything from EVs to Fuel Cells

Photo credit: Karma Automotive
From Autoweek
Karma introduced PHEV called GS-6.
It looks just like any karma ever made. If it's out of date, it's a nice design.
Karma also announced a partnership to manufacture a fuel cell vehicle for "evaluation purposes" using the on-board reformation of methanol.
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What happened to Karma Automotive anyway? This is a question that comes up every couple of years, and conveniently we received an update in a press scrum of a Zoom meeting last week.
Karma introduces a “new” model called the GS-6, a plug-in hybrid that looks like a Revero GT, but is again “new”. Like Revero, it is powered by a production hybrid with a version of the BMW three-cylinder petrol engine that powers the i8. This gasoline engine turns a generator to generate electricity for the car's 28 kWh lithium-ion battery. As a PHEV, GS-6 owners can also connect to household power or a 240-volt, 32-A level 2 charger, or even charge 480-volt DC at 125 A to charge the battery. In fact, 72 percent of all miles driven on the nearly 1,000 karmas sold since 2014 have been driven entirely on electricity. (Karma calls the car an extended-range electric vehicle, or EREV. Perhaps that sounds more appealing than saying it's a plug-in hybrid.)
Outside, the GS-6 looks very similar to the current Revero and Revero GT, though Karma somewhat vaguely claims that there are changes "under the skin" without actually saying what those changes are.
Photo credit: Karma Automotive
Did Karma just realize that $ 154,600 was too expensive to ask about a design we first saw in 2008?
"Our brand promise at Karma has always been to provide world-class luxury vehicles and technology that are driven by innovation and inspire our drivers' ambitions with new and unique offerings," said Lance Zhou, CEO of Karma. "Looking ahead, we believe we can change the world of mobility by making luxury electric vehicles more accessible."
The big difference is the price. The GS-6 comes with a $ 83,900 window sticker, almost half the price of a fully loaded Revero GT. The pricing is sure to open up the karma to a much wider range of buyers.
“When we were founded in 2014, our owners' mission was to build me a brand that lives between super luxury where it starts and premium where it ends. And we're building that space pretty successfully for ourselves in this very small niche of markets that we've been in and people love the car, ”said Joost de Vries, vice president of global sales and customer experience. "There just aren't enough people in this segment to actually sell cars."
The price cut will be a big step for the automaker after launch.
"So who did we sell to before?" de Vries asked rhetorically. “We were a congratulatory purchase from mid to end of career. The FICO scores were greater than 800 or none at all. We were car number four or car number five in the garage. Our number one was a Quattroporte, our number two was a Porsche Panamera, our number three was the Tesla Model S and then the BMW i8. We were really a congratulatory buy, very successful where we had to sell, but a very, very small market segment. "
So how is it going to be at half price?
"By significantly lowering our price, we are touching a completely different segment of the population," said de Vries. "We're looking at people in their 40s now. They still have kids, their household income is $ 150,000, we're becoming a growing brand. We suddenly see trade-ins like an F-150 or a Jeep Wrangler. It's a completely different world for us and it's super exciting because the brand is strong enough to carry that customer profile. Our prices just had to match what that customer profile is interested in. And that's exactly what we're looking for with the launch of this new product. "
The PHEV GS-6 makes 536 horsepower and 550 lb-ft of torque, says Karma. It is driven by two electric motors on the rear wheels that run through a direct drive gearbox with a gear ratio and an electronic limited slip differential. The suspension at all four corners is independent of the SLA or short-long arm setup. Brakes are all-round discs with six-piston calipers at the front and four at the rear.
With so many shoppers making their choices based on whether their phones can do anything in the car, the GS-6 will have both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with Bluetooth wireless audio streaming and hands-free calling. Audio comes through eight speakers with 680 watts. It's also loaded with all the acronyms like Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), and many others.
Photo credit: Karma Automotive
It's not the only new product from Karma. In addition to the plug-in hybrid GS-6, Karma will be launching a purely battery-electric GSe-6 by the end of this year. Prices for this model will be even lower at $ 79,900 (it's not clear whether these prices include target fees, which at current karmas are between $ 1,400 and $ 1,800). The GSe-6 has a range of up to 300 miles from a battery up to 105 kWh. The performance and handling of the GSe-6 Pure EV feel like the GS-6.
“If we take out the generator (the gasoline-powered three-cylinder internal combustion engine and its additional parts), the weight difference between the full electrical package and the 85 kWh package is slightly less than for electricity (car) the 105 kWh package. It will be about 40 pounds higher in weight, but the weight distribution is about the same. So I'm not worried about the scope of services. I think you'll see if not the same, very, very similar zero-to-60. So four and a half seconds and 3.9 seconds (depending on the equipment variants) ”, said de Vries.
Photo credit: Karma Automotive
Karma even announced a partnership to manufacture a fuel cell vehicle. A Danish company called Blue World Technology will integrate one of its fuel cells into Karma Automotive's electric vehicle architecture, and the design will be tested in GS-6 development vehicles for "evaluation purposes," Karma said a few weeks ago. Like all fuel cell vehicles on the road today, the device does not require pure hydrogen. Rather, it will produce its own hydrogen from methanol in an on-board reformation process that has not been seen in fuel cell vehicles since the early days of the fuel cell experiment over 25 years ago.
"Methanol is a hydrogen carrier raw material that is already traded worldwide and can be stored and distributed in many countries around the world using the existing infrastructure," Karma said in a statement two weeks ago. "As an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels, methanol can be produced from renewable sources to ensure a CO2-neutral supply."
So PHEV, EV and FCEV. What's next? With so many powertrain programs, one has to wonder how Karma is funding all of this. It's still officially backed by Wanxiang, the Chinese tier 1 supplier who bought Karma and battery supplier A123 Systems in 2014 when Fisker went bankrupt. But last July, Karma raised $ 100 million from outside investors and wanted to raise more, so maybe everything will be fine.
The only question that remains open - at least for some - is how long the basic Karma design, which we first saw in 2008 under previous owner / founder Henrik Fisker, will stay fresh. With fewer than 1,000 karmas in the wild, you still likely won't see one on your daily drive.
For today, the news is the lower price tag for the GS-6 PHEV, which will almost certainly boost sales significantly.
"We pride ourselves on having designed, engineered, manufactured, sold and serviced luxury EV vehicles for years, which other EV startups can't say," said de Vries. "The GS-6, with its more affordable price tag, combined with a long list of standard convenience features and luxurious design, the GS-6 will appeal to a much larger audience."
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