BREAKING: Karma Automotive Teams With BMW On Electric Drive & Charging Technology

2 years ago by Eric Loveday 79

Karma Automotive Logo

Karma Automotive Logo

News of a tie-up between Karma Automotive (the Chinese automaker formerly known as Fisker) and BMW is just now coming in.

Karma Automotive Introduces/Explains Its New Branding

Karma Automotive Introduces/Explains Its New Branding

An official announcement (beyond just a press release) is expected sometime tomorrow, but the deal/partnership appears to be linked to electric drive and charging technology.

With Karma expected to relaunch the Karma luxury plug-in hybrid next year, the automaker has reached out to BMW to supply electric drive components (possibly from the BMW i8) and charging technology.

“BMW will supply Karma Automotive with their latest powertrain components, including high voltage battery charging systems and a wide range of hybrid and EV systems.”

“Karma Automotive will integrate the first BMW components into its plug-in hybrid flagship vehicle, which will re-launch in 2016. The next generation of vehicles already in development will utilize more of BMW’s powertrain technology.”

BMW i8

BMW i8

Karma Chief Marketing Officer Jim Taylor says that this initial deal with BMW could lead to a large collaboration in the future. Quoting Taylor on the tie-up:

“Carmakers buy parts from other carmakers, especially in expensive areas like powertrain technology. As we launch the vehicle under the new name Karma, using BMW components will be a big help to the brand.”

No additional details on the deal are known at this time. Financial info related to the deal has not been released.

Press release below:

Karma Automotive Signs Supply Agreement With BMW

COSTA MESA, Calif., Nov. 12, 2015 — Karma Automotive announced today that BMW has agreed to be a supplier in ensuring their vehicles are built with the highest quality automotive parts. BMW will supply Karma Automotive with their latest powertrain components, including high voltage battery charging systems and a wide range of hybrid and EV systems.

Throughout automotive history, BMW has been globally recognized for engineering and manufacturing world-class products. They are a proven technology leader and renowned for conceiving and delivering groundbreaking innovations.

Karma Automotive will integrate the first BMW components into its plug-in hybrid flagship vehicle, which will re-launch in 2016. The next generation of vehicles already in development will utilize more of BMW’s powertrain technology.

“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.”

Co-founder Bernhard Koehler said; “I’m personally excited and incredibly proud we will be integrating the sophistication, integrity and character of the BMW powertrain into our own. Karma Automotive products and ultimately our customers will be the greatest benefactors of this fantastic relationship.”


Karma Automotive is a California based car company of luxury hybrid plug-in vehicles. Karma Automotive was established in 2014 by the Wanxiang Group, which purchased the assets of Fisker Automotive Inc., founded in 2007.

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79 responses to "BREAKING: Karma Automotive Teams With BMW On Electric Drive & Charging Technology"

  1. Nelson says:

    Shame they didn’t partner with Tesla. They could have benefitted from the Tesla Worldwide Supercharging Network.

    NPNS! SBF!

    1. Bit off topic, but what’s with all this NPNS! SBF! jargon?

      1. Nelson says:

        It’s my signature and motto.
        NPNS! = No Plug, No Sale!
        SBF! = Stop Burning Fuel!

        1. R.S says:

          I get NPNS, but with SBF, wouldn’t the Volt be a bad choice? You bought a overpriced 35 mile EV, if you don’t want to use fuel.

          1. vdiv says:

            Just because you don’t want to use gas doesn’t mean that you don’t have to every once in a while.

            Also EVs can be evaluated by aspects other than their range and the Volt is a really well-made one.

            1. Trollnonymous says:

              The volt is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

              1. SparkEV says:

                You mean sheep in wolf’s clothing? It’s got nice EV inside, but tail pipe in outside clothing.

                1. EVcarNut says:

                  I think that’s what he means

              2. Chad says:

                The Volt is an extremely valid stepping stone to all electric. I’m on my 3rd Volt and my next car will be all electric now that the market has options with prices under $40,000. And it is my primary vehicle, I don’t need to rent or borrow an ICE car when taking long trips. No, the Volt is awesome and for me is a pure EV on a daily basis. I truly don’t remember the last time I gassed up, maybe 3 months ago? NPNS! SBF!

                1. Trollnonymous says:

                  And at one point when you don’t use the stale gas, it will fire up and start suckling the dirty jizz from the arab kings.

                  No EV does that but sure, it’s an “EV”.

                  1. sven says:

                    I see that you followed though and changed your name. LOL! 😉


                    1. Trollnonymous says:


                  2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

                    Trollnonymous said:

                    “No EV does that but sure, it’s an ‘EV’.”

                    You might have a point if the “EV” in “PHEV” didn’t stand for “electric vehicle”.

                    Sorry you can’t wrap your head around the fact that many things exist in two categories at the same time… as the Volt is a gasmobile and an EV at the same time.

                    Presumably your kids aren’t allowed to have Transformers toys. 😉

                    1. Trollnonymous says:

                      Well by that logic then the PHEV Prius is an EV as well.

                      And by virtue of how the regular Prius operates in low speeds in EV mode (as well as the Ford Fusion) they are EV as well.

                      C’mon P2, I’m just Trolling for a “Spirited Banter”. 😛

                2. RexxSee says:

                  Hybrids are no stepping stones, they are anchors put in place to delay true BEVS that we began to have 18 years ago.

                  1. sven says:

                    Then why do continue to drive your anchor, aka Prius. And how much mileage does it get?

                    1. mr. M says:

                      because he is anchored to his prius 😉

                    2. James says:

                      Likely the same reason I have, after 2.5 years and 35,000 miles, My Ford Fusion Energi is averaging 103.1 MPGe. I’m running roughly 88% electric. I was also able to get a car that can do 720 miles with a full tank if needed. I’m getting a better range AWARENESS and moving to a Model S or Bolt, will drastically increase my range… I find it nearly impossible to think EV adoption is not only increased buy VASTLY increased by the very reasonable stepping stone of PHEV. I am hesitant to include a 11 mile PHEV as that isn’t enough to get a good feel for drive electric only. Perhaps hybrids might be a greater hindrance and we have gas only cars approaching their MPG and while a nice bump up from their non-hybrid models, add more complexity for less gain.

                      All that said baby steps are better than nothing. It’s funny to see cars and trucks with MPG rating seemingly no better than 20 years ago; more horsepower sure, but small MPG gains.

              3. Koenigsegg says:

                Sorry i cant afford a Model S right now so the Volt is the best option

                1. James says:

                  Depending on your electric range needs, let me offer the Ford Fusion Energi for a nicer ride… 🙂

                  I’m biased, but my 2013 has adaptive cruise, sunroof, navigation, roomy seating, leather, and attractive color.

          2. Nelson says:

            I would have bought a Model S had it been the size of the Volt and available in 2011. I will probably get a Model III if it’s the right size. If still too big, I’ll get a 200+ mile Bolt or Leaf (if they change its body). I’ll keep the Volt for as long as it runs using very little gas. BTW, when you burn fuel you create heat and use up oxygen we all need to breathe. Someday it will dawn on someone that global warming was helped along by the number of simultaneous burning fuel activities worldwide creating heat. How many cars running worldwide? How many fire places and pits burning logs? How many building heating apartments and offices burning oil or gas? How much heat do each of these produce? As the population grows so does the number of the activities. That’s why I took up Solar City on their offer to put solar panels on my roof.

            NPNS! SBF!

            1. R.S says:

              I don’t want to question your motives, I just wanted to say BLF would be a better motto for you.

            2. John Hollenberg says:

              > Someday it will dawn on someone that global warming was helped along by the number of simultaneous burning fuel activities worldwide creating heat.

              Sorry, but the problem isn’t the heat that is created burning fuel, it is the CO2 released into the atmosphere that causes global warming. See:


              1. Anon says:

                Yeah, Science is hard for some people. Not sure why. 🙁

                Maybe they need to read some published white papers on the subject, instead of paid media opinions about someone else’s research / data?

                1. Nelson says:

                  A wise science professor once told our class.
                  When looking at a problem scientifically “leave no stone unturned”.

                  NPNS! SBF!

              2. Nelson says:

                When I said:
                > Someday it will dawn on someone that global warming was helped along by the number of simultaneous burning fuel activities worldwide creating heat.

                The word “helped” implies “added to”. I didn’t say the heat from burning fuel was the sole reason for global warming. It would be incorrect to say CO2 is the sole reason for global warming.

                NPNS! SBF!

                1. Anon says:

                  Technically correct, as C02 isn’t the only greenhouse gas being added to the atmosphere by human activities.

                  Melting frozen Methane now bubbling up from the ocean bottom, is another consequence of warming seas and a significant contributor of atmospheric warming, in and of itself.

                  The cascade failure of the environment has begun.

                  1. Nelson says:

                    Looking at Underhood Surface Temperatures in cars,

                    It seems inconceivable that any study would say the heat of 1.2 billion cars on the road
                    is a negligible contributor to global warming.

                    I’m sure the heat emitted from active volcanos is greater but we can’t do much to mitigate that.

                    NPNS! SBF!

                    1. Ambulator says:

                      How you describe 1% of global warming is up to you, but I’m happy with insignificant. Keep in mind that it is worse than that, because if we stop all energy related activity the heating goes to zero, but the warming from carbon dioxide will stay with us for some time.

                      The heat volcanoes give off is even less, I think. The carbon dioxide and aerosols given off by volcanoes are much more important, but still usually have a minor effect.

    2. manbitesgas says:

      You obviously don’t know the history of (bad) Karma…

      Fisker Coachbuild, a design company co-founded by Henrik Fisker was hired for the initial design of the Model S. Except they gave Tesla shit work while stealing their tech to keep for the Karma. Tesla sued and lost, but karma obviously stuck around. Ain’t that a bitch? ;o)

      So the question is: will BWM also get burned?

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        No, Fisker Automotive didn’t “stick around”. It went bankrupt and the assets were bought by a Chinese company, which changed the name to Karma.

      2. Nix says:

        BMW was one of the creditors in the Old Fisker bankruptcy that chose the current owners of New Fisker.

        BMW chose between two bankruptcy offers, and chose the offer that gave BMW partial ownership in New Fisker, and less cash up front. The other bidder offered more cash up front, but no ownership in New Fisker.

        I think BMW are big boys, and they know how to rate their risks and potential rewards. If they didn’t stand behind the New Fisker, they wouldn’t have taken a deal that included partial ownership in New Fisker.

        Every single one of the Old Fisker Board of Directors has been replaced, as has every single one of the ORIGINAL management staff (not including folks brought in to fix the company after it started going downhill).

        I’m not sure why anybody would hold the actions of the Old Fisker owners, the Old Fisker board, and the Old Fisker management staff against New Fisker.

        1. don ande says:

          Because the main guy Bernhard Koehler who is still involved in litigation with the previous investors is the one who apparently brokered this deal. Something smells rotten.

          1. Nix says:

            Koehler worked for BMW much longer than he worked for Fisker. What is your point?

            1. James Morris says:

              That is a completely different entity than Karma Automotive LLC (emphasis added to the LLC portion). Karma Automotive runs as a completely different business unit. You are reading too much into it. The Chinese don’t look at companies the way western conglomerates do; each is separate and disposable.

            2. James Morris says:

              Barny still works for Karma Automotive LLC as an executive and is the one who brokered this deal with BMW (his previous employer).

              Barny is still involved in litigation


              So the guy that was a BMW exec then a co-founder of Fisker who is now a Karma Automotive exec who is currently being sued by investors is somehow not involved in this deal? Come on.

    3. EVcarNut says:

      Does Tesla really need BMW as a partner ? Tesla is light years ahead of BMW In Electric Technology.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        There is often a win-win situation when companies form a partnership; that’s why there are so many of ’em. For example, Tesla might want access to the carbon fiber composite tech which BMW has developed. Tesla obviously has much to offer other auto makers, including BMW, in expertise with electric drivetrains and, recently, autonomous driving software.

        Even competitors often find some benefit to cooperating in limited ways.

        1. joef says:

          “Tesla obviously has much to offer other auto makers, including BMW, in expertise with electric drivetrains and, recently, autonomous driving software.” – hahahaha autonomous driving software? i hope BMW dont want use tesla software hahaha

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            I, too, question the wisdom of Tesla using ordinary Model S owners as beta testers. And that’s not an exaggeration; that feature is clearly labeled “Autosteer (Beta)” on the Model S’s display screen.

            But you laughing at it doesn’t alter the fact that after only a year or two of development, Tesla has taken the lead in autonomous driving systems actually installed and used in mass produced cars.

        2. EVcarNut says:

          You’ve made a Valid Point…

  2. kdawg says:

    So Karma decided, why engineer it when you can buy it from someone else. I wonder once they get their hands on the design, if the will just copy it and then stop buying from BMW.

    1. doesn’t that violate copyright laws?

      1. Boris says:

        Not in China…

        1. Trollnonymous says:


          1. Roolasks says:

            Maybe this is why they are outsourcing to BMW. Looks like a nightmare place to work.


    2. manbitesgas says:

      It’s not like that would be the first time Karma stole from other EV manufacturers. Now with Chinese take on copyright, I’d say, BMW is soon to be massively “disappointed”.

      Karma is just about the only EV manufacturer I wish to see fail. Didn’t even bother to change that disgracefully ironic name. Oh well.

  3. Loboc says:

    I don’t get it. How are they going to compete against i8 if they use i8 powertrain?

    Who in the right mind would buy a Chinese knockoff vs a real i8?

    They should produce the original Karma with GM engine. Make it a screamer. And make it sell for $70k. At this price range, nobody cares if it gets 25mpg.

    1. I dunno, by offering a more compelling price point maybe?

    2. Roolasks says:

      Aren’t BMW engines expensive to maintain? I assume they are looking at the B38 3 cylinder motor. Would have stuck with the ECOTEC gm motors tried and true and much cheaper to upkeep.

    3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Loboc said:

      “I don’t get it. How are they going to compete against i8 if they use i8 powertrain?”

      In the Chinese domestic market, it’s entirely possible they can find a niche. As a Chinese company, they will have a significant advantage against imports, because China imposes many tariffs and red tape obstacles to keep imports out. Also, the auto safety regulations in China are much more lax (if they exist at all), so that’s another way to make cars more cheaply for the Chinese market: just don’t make them as safe.

      And by partnering with a Chinese company, BMW can rid itself of many of those red tape and tariff restrictions, so that explains why BMW might go for the deal.

      Now, in first-world countries, you’re right, the Karma is not going to be able to compete against the i8.

  4. Loboc says:

    I like the HAL-esque logo btw.

    1. Anon says:

      It looks like something I would find at a Chinese Meat Market, to me.

  5. Alan says:

    They could have just bought themselves an i8 and more or less replicate it so as to not fall foul of copyright laws !

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      It’s patents, not copyrights, which are the issue.

      And contrary to popular opinion, reverse engineering in many cases is extremely difficult or outright impossible. That’s one of the reason Chinese hackers are so active in stealing industrial secrets. For hi-tech devices, you not only need a sample of what was made, but also instructions for how to make it.

      The impossibility of reverse engineering some things goes back at least to WW II and the proximity fuse used to control anti-aircraft artillery shells.

  6. Three Electrics says:

    This is clearly a BMW play to find a local partner to help them sell to the Chinese “new energy” market.

    1. Anon says:

      “Those that sleep with the Devil, get burned.”

  7. Trollnonymous says:

    They should just spin up a full BEV model and dump the ICE.

  8. Bone says:

    Makes sense. Karma and BMW are only ones that have made pure series PHEVs.

    1. vdiv says:

      The VIA Trux drivetrain is a series hybrid.

      1. Bone says:

        You’re right. I was thinking of cars only.

  9. ffbj says:

    The equivalent western concept to Karma is: ‘you reap what you sow.’ So if you plant the seeds of good karma you will reap the fruits of that good action, for karma is an action or series of actions. Ditto with bad karma. Rotten seeds, rotten fruit.
    I guess we will see how prophetic that name was and judge by the result the initiating karma.

  10. arne-nl says:

    Release a PHEV in 2018? I think they will be late to the PHEV party.

    Compared to the affordable 300+ km EV’s available from 2017, the added cost, weight, complexity and maintenance of an ICE will offer a worthwhile advantage to only a few people.

  11. Bill Howland says:

    I question the ‘Charging Technology’ wisdom.

    First, they can’t get their brouchures straight, mixing the German versions with the north american ones (supposedly 7 kw (10 amps) for the german ones and 7.4 kw (32 amps) for the north american ones. Granted not as bad as VIAMOTORS where the brouchure doesn’t make any sense and never has.

    But then they had the trouble with the car charger being software limited to 3-4 kw since if running at 7 to 7.4 kw would burn it out. I suspect most automakers contract these things out to prestolite or lear, or any number of others.

    But seeing as chargers (and charger docking stations by this time) are getting to be commodity products, I’d think a Chinese company would just go to another chinese supplier. The Karma was sold (at extra cost) with a private labeled 16 amp Le Grande (P&S) docking station that some might consider mediocre, but at least the thing worked and was semi stylish with its coily cord.

    That BMW wallbox takes up half the wall in most garages and is very overpriced.

    So why do I suppose this announcement was just for the advertising value? The charger in the old Karma was at least one of the things that worked and didn’t catch fire. Since its to be a PHEV, I’m sure they can find several 15 or 16 amp car chargers for it, as well as plenty of surplus docking stations, to be picked up cheaply.

  12. James Morris says:

    Looks like the next generation Karma will be using the CCS combo plug. Probably buying a contactor box, the yazaki combo plug and the communication board. Yawn same old Karma story of outsourcing to BMW instead of GM. This is easy stuff to engineer.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      James Morris said:

      “Yawn same old Karma story of outsourcing to BMW instead of GM. This is easy stuff to engineer.”

      “Easy to engineer” in the sense that any decent shade-tree mechanic can convert a gasmobile to an EV by using off-the-shelf components; yes. “Easy to engineer” in the sense of making a compelling EV which can actually compete in the new car market… no.

      A quote: “…in all-electric mode, the [Fisker] Karma is around half as efficient as the Volt.”


      1. James Morris says:

        You have Karma Automotive who claims to have unlimited funds from their owner. Yet they go and outsource charging to BMW? Seems kind of strange. What does BMW have that is proprietary? I think it is weak engineering that forced them to outsource a non proprietary contact box, a communication card and chargeport to another OEM. Someone is getting their palms greased like last time and I would bet its Barny Koehler who was quoted in that article and a long-time BMW executive. Same old scam different players.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          I’m not going to comment about the possibility that Karma is a scam; I think it’s wrong to make such accusations without some pretty compelling evidence.

          But on the subject of EV engineering: The Fisker Karma was, quite simply, poorly engineered. Sure, it had the low lean sporty look of a shark, but the electric range was shockingly low, and the gas mileage was equally poor. And that’s not even getting into the various reports of the cars simply not functioning at all.

          Altho the Chinese company that bought up the assets no doubt got full access to the designs, I don’t find it at all surprising that they’re turning to another company, such as BMW, for the EV powertrain, instead of trying to re-create the troubled Fisker serial hybrid EV powertrain.

          Again, James, your “easy to engineer” comment simply doesn’t reflect the reality of the very competitive new car market.

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            More on why the Fisker Karma was a case of bad EV engineering:


          2. James Morris says:

            The easy to engineer part is related to the charging system that is in the article. Either it is a wall charger or the DC charging. Both are easy to design and engineer in-house rather than outsource. You are taking my comments out of context.

            A contact box, communication card and charge-port are not difficult to design and engineer.

  13. Nix says:

    It is important to note that Wanxiang (Karma’s parent group) is already an OEM parts supplier to BMW and many other premium brands.

    Here is an example of one of Karma’s sister companies, Neapco, providing OEM parts to BMW:

    So this is more of a parts exchange between long-time business partners than a new partnership.

    BMW was going to be the OEM supplier for engines for the Fisker Atlantic, and is a part-owner in New Fisker after the bankruptcy, so this isn’t too surprising.

    Wanxiang has been an OEM supplier for Ford, GM, and many other major makes for decades. I don’t think people really understand who they are because they’ve never heard of them and they have a funny name. But they are a very successful well established company, and there isn’t any reason to doubt their ability to execute.

    1. James Morris says:

      China doesn’t work with sister companies or economies of scale with regards to separate entities purchased. You cannot steal form peter to pay paul. It does not matter that Wanxiang owns 100 different auto suppliers as they will run Karma Automotive a a separate entity. Same with Geely or any other Chinese company. What may make sense to leverage under common ownership is more complicated by the way China does business. They sandbox everything.

    2. James Morris says:

      also if you read the way the bk docs are worded Wanxiang can dilute the “supplier pool” of investors by investing more in Fisker/Karma Automotive. I doubt BMW is putting in any cash except for their “sweat” equity that they received when they settled and is expecting all funds to come through with their supplier agreement.

      1. Nix says:

        Of course Fisker/Karma can dilute ownership by putting in more money. That’s what ownership means. You put more money in, you get to own more of the company. The same ownership dilution happened to Tesla share owners each time Tesla issued new stocks.

        It is the exact same thing that happens in EVERY company each time they give their employees and executives stock options.

        I see that you consider even basic, business as usual operations common throughout the corporate world as somehow being nefarious.

        Sorry, I don’t feed conspiracy theory trolls.

        1. James Morris says:

          Except this is a bankruptcy not a capital raise. So not the exact same thing.

          1. Nix says:

            Obvious Troll Is Obvious

            1. James Morris says:

              So the BMW Samsung Batteries (why not just go to Samsung) put out less of a C rating than the current 8 year old A123 packs (2008 concept). The B38 motor puts out less horsepower than the current GM LNF motor. Where does the extra power come from? This will have the exact same performance as the previous vehicle. Although it is kind of mind-blowing that 402 hp = 6.2 0-60 and 7.9…Oh wait the I8 does 0-60 in electric mode in 9.1 seconds. Pathetic. Take the Karma Karma to the back of the barn and shoot it. This is a money and industry loser and an embarrassment.

  14. Liz says:

    Time to change “Fisker” to “Karma/Fisker” at the top of the page

    1. Jay Cole says:

      We were thinking about that, but then thought maybe we would wait until they delivered the first car…as no one recognizes them as “Karma” only yet.

      /tough call