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2020 Karma Revero plug-in hybrid gets a BMW three-cylinder engine in redesign

2020 Karma Revero teaserBoutique automaker Karma Automotive claims to be looking toward the future, but right now it’s stuck in the past. The only car Karma sells is the Revero, which dates back to the company’s previous incarnation as Fisker Automotive. As part of its resurgence, Karma will debut not one, but three new cars at the 2019 Shanghai Auto Show. The company is relying on two big names — BMW and Pininfarina — to aid in its transformation.

The first car debuting in Shanghai will be a redesigned version of the Revero. It can’t arrive soon enough, as the current-generation Revero dates back to 2012, making it positively ancient by industry standards. The current Revero features a plug-in hybrid powertrain designed to allow the car to operate on electric power most of the time. It’s unclear if Karma will stick with that or try something new. The above teaser image from Karma doesn’t give many hints about styling, but the current Revero is already one of the most dramatic looking cars on the road.

When it was launched as the Fisker Karma, the car was briefly considered to be a rival to the Tesla Model S. About 2,000 Fisker Karmas were built before Fisker Automotive went bankrupt. Chinese auto-parts company Wanxiang bought the remains of the automaker in 2014, and reconstituted them into Karma Automotive. Karma now builds the same car, renamed Revero, at a factory in Moreno Valley, California, but it will need to develop something new in order to survive.

One major change confirmed so far is the use of a BMW turbocharged three-cylinder engine, in place of the General Motors-sourced turbo-four engine used in the current-generation Revero. As before, the gasoline engine will serve as a generator, producing electricity rather than driving the wheels directly. The new engine, along with a new twin-motor “rear-drive module,” will improve performance, according to Karma. The company expects the 2020 Revero to do zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, which Karma claims is almost a second quicker than the car it will replace.

The second vehicle will be an all-electric concept car called the Karma Vision. Finally, Karma will unveil the first product of its an electric supercar called the Battista. Named after Pininfarina’s founder, the supercar boasts a claimed 1,877 horsepower and 217 mph top speed. It sounds like Pininfarina has plenty to offer Karma.

Karma did not discuss production plans for the Pininfarina collaboration or the Vision concept, but said the second-generation Revero will go on sale later this year as a 2020 model. Karma also said it’s spending $7.5 million on new powertrain testing labs at its headquarters in Irvine, California. The automaker said this will allow it to do more development work in-house.

Karma faces stiff competition from established luxury brands and a host of startups looking to emulate the success of Tesla. Even Henrik Fisker — the namesake of Fisker Automotive — is getting in on the action. He’s launched a new company that claims to be developing a long-range electric car using new battery technology.

Updated on April 4, 2019: Added details on the 2020 Karma Revero’s BMW engine.

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