It’s been a while since we checked in with Karma Automotive. Back in 2017, we drove the 2018 Karma Revero, an updated version of the Karma from now-defunct Fisker Motors. We liked the Revero, but with a base price starting north of $130,000, it was facing an uphill battle in a small market space filled with high-class competitors such as the Porsche Panamera.
Karma Automotive has come to the conclusion that the road to riches doesn’t necessarily lie in the ultra-luxury space, so it’s bringing its pricing closer to Earth. This past autumn the company announced the all-electric GSe-6, which combines the Revero’s styling with an all-electric powertrain and a base price of $81,700 (including an $1,800 destination fee, but before tax incentives). Now the company’s revealed a new range-extended electric version (what some might refer to as a plug-in hybrid) called the GS-6, with a starting price of $85,700 after destination fee.
Power Range Extender
Wait, wait, wait. A range-extended electric vehicle that’s priced lower than a pure battery-electric vehicle? Yep, that’s the plan, according to Joost de Vries, Karma’s vice president of global sales and customer experience. The sub-$80,000 GSe-6 will have an 85-kWh battery pack that provides an estimated 230 miles of range (a version with a 105-kWh pack and more than 300 miles of range is coming), while the GS-6 will travel up to 330 miles, per the Environmental Protection Agency. And that’s with a full battery and fuel tank. “We charge for that flexibility,” de Vries explained.
We’re still awaiting technical details on the GSe-6, but we know that the GS-6 will power its rear wheels with two electric motors delivering a total of 536 hp and 550 lb-ft of torque. Karma claims a 0-60 mph time of 4.5 seconds for the Standard and Luxury models and a 3.9-second time for the GS-6 Sport.
Electricity to turn the motors comes primarily from a 28-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that provides an EPA-rated electric-only range of 61 miles for models with 21-inch wheels and 54 miles for models with 22-inch wheels (the larger wheels are standard on the GS-6 Sport, optional on others). Karma claims the real-world range is closer to 80 miles. The battery can be fully charged in four hours on a standard Level 2 charger, or to 90 percent in 34 minutes using a DC fast charger.
The range extender is a BMW-sourced 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder gasoline engine that drives a 170-kWh generator and feeds from a 10-gallon fuel tank.
Go, Go, Revero
And what of the Revero? Karma plans to remake the Revero GT as its halo vehicle, upgrading the model with an all-wheel-drive powertrain said to offer in excess of 1,100 hp. (Yeah, we’ll take that.) Karma is also promising an upgraded interior and a bespoke ordering process. Our guess is that it will occupy the same six-figure price point of the current Revero.
Karma also has plans for an SUV, drawings of which we’ve seen in Karma’s patent filings. The new SUV will be called GX-1 and will be offered with battery-electric and range-extended powertrains. With the global trend toward SUVs, Karma expects the GX-1 will become its volume-selling model. Expect a two-row battery-electric version to hit the market in late 2022, followed by a three-row model (and then the plug-in hybrid version). Karma also plans to show a prototype GX-1 powered by a hydrogen fuel cell later this year.
Karma, which is headquartered in Irvine, California, plans to market itself as a California company (a controversial thing for some Americans, de Vries acknowledged, but hot stuff to the rest of the world). If all goes well, Karma will exceed the 15,000-vehicle-per-year capacity of its Moreno Valley, California plant. Once that happens, Karma will build GS-series cars, Reveros, and high-end GX-1s in California, and either open a new plant or contract with a manufacturer to build lower-spec GX-1s. That plant’s location has not been determined, but China, Europe, and Vietnam are all under consideration.
The company is also looking at options for sales and delivery. Karma currently has factory stores in some areas and franchised dealers in others, and it plans to sell cars through Amazon’s automotive vertical—in fact, the company might be the first automaker to offer end-to-end purchases of its products on Amazon. (We can just see the customer service chats now: “The site says it was delivered, but I swear I didn’t get it.” “No problem, we’ll issue a refund, and if the car shows up, just keep it. “)