September 24, 2021

condoritolapelicula

Half the Automotive

Karma prices GS-6 plug-in hybrid arriving soon, teases electric SUV due in 2022

Karma Automotive Monday revealed pricing for its more affordable plug-in hybrid luxury car, the GS-6

With its arrival this month, the GS-6 starts at $83,900. A high-performance GS-6S model starts at $103,900. A fully electric GSe-6 model, set to arrive late this year with a choice between two battery packs—Luxury and Long Range—starts at $79,000. 

It also teased what’s next for the California-based carmaker: the GX-1 Series, an SUV to be built on a new global platform, in both battery electric and extended-range EV versions. This model will be due for first deliveries in 2022, the company revealed.

Karma GX SUV teaser

Karma GX SUV teaser

There’s a lot more backstory, however, for the company that started seven years ago and has roots in a design—the FIsker Karma—that predated the Tesla Model S as a sexy green car.

Remakes over reinvention

The GS-6 is essentially a repositioning of the Revero GT that was selling for a lot more until recently—$144,800, to start—while the Revero GT will continue with an emphasis on high-end trims, finishes, and upgrades. And the Revero itself was already a reconstituted Karma—imbued with extensive updates to cabin technology, more electric range, and from most accounts, better drivability than the original car. 

2010 Fisker Karma

2010 Fisker Karma

That said, from some paces away the GS-6 looks virtually identical to the Fisker Karma that was first teased in 2007 and revealed at the 2008 Detroit auto show. 

Karma was formed in 2014, when the Chinese auto-parts maker Wanxiang bought much of the remains of Fisker Automotive and renamed it. The core model of Fisker’s lineup, the Karma, inspired the name of the brand itself, while the car that had been previously known as the Fisker Karma became the Karma Revero—relaunched in 2017, with the opening of a new facility in Moreno Valley, California. 

Although its Chinese owners have put an estimated $2 billion into Karma, the Revero and GS-6 are all they have to show for it so far—along with an SC1 Vision Concept sports car and number of ideas pitched for those cars’ E-Flex platform

Karma EREV E-Flex extended-range EV platform

Karma EREV E-Flex extended-range EV platform

The company announced last summer that it was seeking an IPO—which seemed to be the end goal of a PR blitz about the company’s potential, as other companies positioned for SPACs—although no such plan has emerged quite yet. 

A demographic shift

The GS-6 model line is part of a plan to pivot Karma from older, ultra-rich customers to much younger ones with a household income of $150,000 and up, Karma calls the brand positioning a “bridge” between establishment automakers that aren’t entirely keeping up with the times and EV startups like Tesla and Nio. 

Karma Automotive KICC assembly facility

Karma Automotive KICC assembly facility

Karma’s Moreno Valley facility covers 550,000 square feet and can accommodate the manufacturing of 15,000 vehicles per year—including aluminum space-frame compatibility and what the company points out is the first paint shop emissions-approved for an automaker in California since the 1970s, other than Tesla and its NUMMI predecessor. 

The company will produce both the GS-6 and other future vehicles there—likely a reference to the SUV—and today, Karma continues with the same battery supplier, A123, as for the original Fisker Karma. A123 was also bought by Wanxiang.

Teaser for Karma Revero GTE due in spring 2021

Teaser for Karma Revero GTE due in spring 2021

Karma VP for global sales Joost de Vries said that Karma is best characterized as a mature startup, and is “starting to feel like a more complete auto manufacturer here in the U.S.”

Putting its weight behind PHEV

The company believes that pure battery electric vehicles won’t work for everyone for another decade or more, and it calls the GS-6 an “extended-range electric vehicle”—although by our definition, it’s a plug-in hybrid. It comes with a 28-kwh lithium-ion battery pack. Two motors provide rear-wheel drive, with a combined 536 horsepower and 550 pound-feet, while a BMW 1.5-liter turbo-3 makes 228 horsepower and functions solely as a 170-kw generator in this series hybrid. Karma says that it designed its inverters for the GS-6 in-house. 

Both cars are offered in Luxury and Sport versions, with the Luxury offering 0-60 mph time of 4.5 seconds and the Sport cutting that to 3.8 or 3.9 seconds and adding torque vectoring. 

The GS-6 and Revero GT have identical 10.3-gallon fuel capacities and offer a 61-mile electric range with the 21-inch wheels or a 54-mile electric range with the 22-inch wheels. After using up available charge, they become series hybrids, with EPA combined ratings of 26 mpg and 22 mpg, respectively. 

There are three modes. A Stealth mode—a term carried over from Fisker days—runs the vehicle in electric only. Sustain mode uses the engine to power the vehicle. And Sport mode activates an active exhaust system for the engine and uses both the plug-in charge and the engine together for maximum power. 

A 10.2-inch touchscreen interface with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is included, with eight speakers, 680 watts, and HD radio. The GS-6 models also offer firmware over the air, meaning they can do some level of remote diagnostics plus get over-the-air updates that could improve the vehicle over time. 

2020 Karma Revero GT

2020 Karma Revero GT

The GS-6 will include full-range adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, a blind-spot monitor, curva-adaptive headlights, and a surround-view camera system. It will be offered in two new colors not before offered for the Revero—Saguaro Green and Imperial Copper. And like the more expensive Revero, the GS-6 still offers reclaimed wood, carbon fiber, and various leather color combinations. 

A niche maker, on different ground than most startups

Karma VP for global sales Joost de Vries said that Karma is best characterized as a mature startup, and is “starting to feel like a more complete auto manufacturer here in the U.S.”

According to de Vries, Karma has covered about 6.5 million customer-driven miles—amounting to about 1,000 delivered vehicles. To put this in perspective, Karma still hasn’t come close to building as many Reveros as Fisker built Karmas.

2010 Fisker Karma

2010 Fisker Karma

Strangely enough, the pricing move aligns the GS-6 with the original price and volume targets of the Fisker Karma. As we reported with the Karma’s 2008 reveal, Henrik Fisker’s original goal for the Fisker Karma when it was revealed back then was 15,000 cars annually—the same as Karma’s California capacity—at around $80,000. 

Karma has room to grow in its facility. It already has a dealership network, and it’s made deliveries all around the world. Not all of the designs that the company teased about a year ago are necessarily on the way, but unlike many EV startups Karma is delivering vehicles now and will continue to do so. It just needs more products soon—ironically, those that don’t look like a Karma.