Tesla Model X Competitor Gets New Lease Of Life As Karma


Electric car maker Fisker Automotive Inc. is back from the brink thanks to investment from Chinese billionaire Lu Guanqiu.

The company is to be renamed Karma and now has 300 employees working to produce electric vehicles to compete with Tesla Motors Inc. Fisker previously filed for bankruptcy after failing to repay $139 million in U.S. government loans, writes David Welch for Bloomberg.

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Fisker reborn as Karma, will compete with Tesla

Under its new guise, the company is planning to relaunch next year. With oil prices low and an increasingly competitive field of electric cars, it won’t be easy for Karma to make a splash.

Tesla Motors Inc. just delivered its Model X, General Motors is pushing a new Chevrolet Volt and BMW is set to release a hybrid version of its X5 SUV. However it seems that Karma and major investor Lu are focused on the long term.

Chief Marketing Officer Jim Taylor says Lu wants to develop cars which can combat the problem of air pollution in China. It seems other Chinese investors have similar ideas, with Faraday Future, Atieva Inc. and NextEV all Chinese-backed electric car companies.

Crowded electric car market increasingly competitive

However interested parties should take heed of the lessons from the last flood of capital that went into electric cars. Investors backed startups in the mid-2000s, but were disappointed as electric vehicles sold poorly.

Fisker went bankrupt along with Coda Automotive Inc. and Aptera Motors Inc. Tesla managed to survive but has not made a profit in a single year of its existence.

Tesla will be Karma’s main rival, although Karma’s car is a plug-in hybrid which has a gasoline engine alongside its electric unit. It has a range of 350 miles on one charge and a full tank of gas, while Tesla’s all-electric Model S can go as much as 295 miles without a charge.

The Karma will run 50 miles using just the electric motor, according to Taylor. That puts it in the same league as the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid. Taylor says that Karma hopes to stand out from the crowd with its styling, which makes the car a fashion piece for the wealthy. Leonardo DiCaprio and Justin Bieber bought Fisker cars before the company went bankrupt.

After the company starts producing Karmas, development will continue on the smaller Atlantic and a pure electric car will arrive in the future, said Chief Executive Officer Tom Corcoran said.