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Karma’s Shanghai trio includes first Pininfarina collaboration

Published: 17 April 2019

► Italian design house reworks Karma coupe
► Wild scissor-doored roadster concept too
► BMW range-extender tech in new four-door

Famous Italian design house Pininfarina has designed another winner, this time a svelte two-door coupe based on Karma’s existing four-door Revero. It was one of three treats on the Karma stand at the 2019 Shanghai motor show.

The compact but full Karma stand also hosted the revised Revero full EV due on sale in the US later in 2019 with BMW range-extending tech underneath, plus an extravagantly long-nosed roadster called the SC1 Vision (below), designed by Karma’s inhouse team and with long and dramatic scissor doors opening skyward.

Karma SC1 Vision

Watching those doors open and close on stand was certainly a Shanghai crowd-pleaser.   

The Karma GT looks remarkably production-feasible?

Indeed, displaying Pininfarina’s usual finesse in proportions and body surfacing, the elegant Karma GT concept is the first fruit of the new collaboration between the Italian design house and the California-based luxury electric vehicle start-up, after the formal announcement of the two companies’ relationship in January of 2019 (although work on the concept started before that in the autumn of 2018).

Karma GT designed by Pininfarina

There’s nothing on either the exterior or interior that looks too complex to be produced, and Pininfarina has already gone on record to say that it would make a limited run of the coupe if demand was sufficient.

Officials at the show confirmed: ‘If that happens, Pininfarina will build the cars in its atelier outside of Turin and will invite customers to personally configure their GT, making their car a “tailored suit”, as only Pininfarina can do. For now, though, Karma Automotive is capturing select characteristics of the Karma GT designed by Pininfarina and working them into forthcoming production vehicles.’

What about the two other Karmas on display in Shanghai?

The first (with the dark red exterior) is the revised Revero four-door (below), which replaces the existing model which has already sold about 200 units in the US. The new version now boasts a BMW-sourced plug-in range-extender electric powertrain, where a TwinPower Turbo three-cylinder in-line engine powers an on-board electric generator to enhance overall vehicle performance.

Karma had three treats at the 2019 Shanghai auto show

Shaving a full second off the old model’s 0-62mph time – down to 4.5 seconds – the engine supports a new and more powerful high-voltage lithium-ion battery pack and a new, transversely mounted, twin-motor rear drive module. A Karma spokesman said the new Revero will bear a ‘slight increase’ in cost over the outgoing model’s circa $130,000 price tag in the US and the company hopes to expand into Europe and the Middle East in 2020, and on to China by 2021. 

And what about the super scissor-doored orange roadster concept?

Given the extreme proportions, wild doors and ultra-sparkly interior detailing, it’s fair to say the SC1 Vision is more conceptual for now, but it shows that Karma’s in-house design team has a few ideas of its own – and can execute them with some panache too. (Yet) another luxury EV brand to watch…

By Guy Bird

Contributor, cultural curator, design commentator

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