Back in the day – all the way back to 2011 – the Tesla Model S wasn’t the only luxury electric sedan in town. In fact, Fisker Automotive beat them to market with the Karma, a luxury extended-range hybrid that looked like it came right off the auto show floor.
Unlike the Model S, the Karma had a powertrain similar to the Chevrolet Volt, with two electric motors powering the rear wheels and an on-board, GM-sourced gas engine, in this case an Ecotec 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.
The Karma was praised by Top Gear’s James May and used eco-friendly materials like reclaimed wood and leather that would normally be discarded.
Unfortunately, due to financial constraints, lawsuits and some issues with fires, Fisker went bankrupt in 2013 after suspending production in 2012. Assets were sold, and the Karma’s karma ran out.
Or did it? From the ashes of the old company comes two new Karma-based vehicles.
One is from a company that includes Henrik Fisker himself. Fisker, automotive magnate Bob Lutz and investor Gilbert Villareal have produced their first customer-bound VLF Destino, according to The Detroit News and reported by Autoblog. The Destino is basically a warmed-over Karma with a new front grille and, more importantly a GM LS9 supercharged V8 engine replacing all that extended-range-hybrid trickery.
According to VLF Automotive’s website, the 6.2-liter engine makes 638 hp and 604 lb-ft of torque, which they say should propel the Desinto from 0-60 in 3.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 200 mph.
On the other side of the spectrum, the remains of the original Fisker is now called Karma Automotive and they just recently announced a new engineering and sales office, according to a report in Automotive News.
The office is reported to cost $3.6 million to build. Karma is owned by Wanxiang Group, a Chinese company who purchased the remnants of Fisker Automotive in a bankruptcy auction.
Karma will be introducing a new car as well, an updated version of the Karma called the Revero. The “Karma Karma” would probably have been too confusing. Autoblog reported that the Revero will be a lot like the Karma, including the extended-range hybrid powertrain.
So Mr. Fisker can be proud that two versions of his striking sedan might be roaming the streets soon, although it’s pretty clear which one to bet on in a stoplight drag race.
Check out this TFLcar video of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt, which has a powertrain very similar to the original Karma: