Karma Forges An Alliance With BMW


Karma sedanKarma Automotive is the successor to Fisker Automotive, the company that tried to manufacture a luxury electric car before anyone had ever heard of Tesla. Like many technology leaders, it was overwhelmed by the marketplace and went bankrupt, leaving an unpaid $139 million dollar government loan in its wake.

The assets of the company were purchased in 2013 by Wanxiang Grpup, headed by Chinese billionaire entrepreneur Lu Guanqiu. The reconstituted company now has 300 employees and plans to introduce an updated version of the Karma plug-in hybrid sedan next year. On November 12, it announced that it has signed a deal to use high voltage battery charging systems and other electric drive train technology from BMW. The cooperative agreement with BMW may lead to further links between the two companies. Karma has said it wants to bring a fully electric car to market soon. That’s an area that BMW knows a lot about.

“Carmakers buy parts from other carmakers, especially in expensive areas like powertrain technology,”  Jim Taylor, chief marketing officer for Karma tells Automotive News.  “As we launch the vehicle under the new name Karma, using BMW components will be a big help to the brand.” That’s very much of an understatement. A lot of people paid a lot of money for the original, only to be left high and dry when the company went belly up. It’s one thing to buiild a car. It’s quite another thing to convince prospective buyers the manufacture will still be around to service it later.

“The Wanxiang Group is giving Karma Automotive the opportunity to bring a stunning car back to the market, and the partnership with BMW and their outstanding track record is a great fit for the future,” said Karma’s CEO Tom Corcoran. “We will continue to develop beautiful cars with the latest cutting edge hybrid and EV technology.”

The original Karma sedan used a 4 cylinder engine sourced from General Motors to extend the car’s range. There is no word on where Karma will get the range extender engine for this latest version of its plug-in hybrid car. Once production begins, the cars is expected to sell for $115,000.

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.