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To PHEV Or Not To PHEV? That Is The Question For Karma

Karma introduced three cars this week, a plug-in hybrid sedan and coupe and a battery electric roadster concept. The sedan is scheduled to go on sale in America later this year.

Do you know the Karma story? It started with Henrik Fisker and his Karma plug-in hybrid sedan back in 2012. Fisker Automotive ran into a number of speed bumps along the way and ended up in bankruptcy. Its assets were purchased by Wanxiang, a company with operations both in China and the US. It has created a refreshed and updated version of the original car and dubbed it the Revero GT.

Karma Revero GT Plug-In Hybrid

Henrik Fisker has gone on to found Fisker, Inc., which he says will bring a battery electric starting at $40,000 and with 300 miles of range to market in late 2021. His company also has a high end electric sedan called the EMotion in development, but production of that car has been delayed while the company waits for new solid state battery technology to mature.

This week, Karma has taken the wraps off both the new 4-door sedan and a 2-door model called the Karma Pininfarina GT Coupé designed in collaboration with Pininfarina, which is now owned by India’s Mahindra. Both vehicles use the same plug-in hybrid power train consisting of dual electric motors, a 28 kWh battery, and the turbocharged 3-cylinder engine developed by BMW for the i8 serving in a range extender role.

Karma Pininfarina GT Coupe

Speaking of range, the company says the Revero GT sedan can travel 128 kilometers (about 80 miles) on battery power alone. With the range extender engine recharging the battery, total range is around 300 miles. The svelte Pininfarina may eke out a few more miles, but that has not been confirmed.

The company is well aware that the Revero GT will be compared to the Tesla Model S and has decided not to get drawn into a debate about which is faster. For generations, Rolls Royce refused to publish horsepower numbers for its cars, preferring to say simply that the grunt from under the hood was “adequate.” Karma has takes a similar tack. Here’s a statement from its website.

“The Revero is about feel, not numbers. No knowledge of its 0-60 time will help you define its allure. We can and will quote impressive vehicle technical specs. But we would rather state our performance story differently: we have enough.” Take that, Teslaholics!

The plan is for the $130,000 Revero GT to go on sale in the US later this year, with sales in Europe slated for 2020 and China in 2021. Lance Zhou, CEO of Karma, tells Electrive that his company is focusing on an “open platform philosophy” that its partners can use as  “an incubator to test and prove their innovations, and likewise, our engineering and design resources can be offered to help other partners advance their needs.”

Karma electric roadster concept

But wait, there’s more. In addition to the Revero GT and Karma Pininfarina GT Coupê, the company also introduced an exciting all electric roadster concept that looks like a Saturn Sky on steroids. No production plans, specs, or prices for the car have been announced, but it is certainly a tasty little crumpet. If we learn more about it, we will share that information with you.

The question, of course, is will there be a market for a high priced plug-in hybrids? Karma certainly thinks so and promises its customers lots of luxury touches including hand painted brand medallions front and rear. Will that be enough? “We’ll see,” said the Zen Master.

 
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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.

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