Designing for Dollars?
“Karma is creating a new business model—not just automotive and not just technology—but a combination that will maximize value with diversification,” said the company’s CEO Dr. Lance Zhou on the occasion of the announcement that Andreas Thurner, formerly of BMW Group design, is the company’s vice president of Global Design and Architecture within Karma Design, a new business unit.
(Images: Karma Automotive)
Karma Design is to allow the company to offer styling and design services to other companies (which sounds somewhat like Designworks, which happens to be a BMW company). Zhou went on to say, “Karma’s luxury electric vehicle niche and in-house design and styling talent creates opportunities for the company to diversify revenue streams and maximize opportunity.”
Presently, the company offers one car, the Revero, which is an “extended range electric vehicle,” which you may recall is the moniker given to the Chevy Volt, meaning that there is an internal combustion engine that works as a generator to charge the lithium-ion battery (although the vehicle is a plug-in for primary charging purposes).
One car isn’t exactly the sort of thing that can sustain a company, so presumably offering design services to other OEMs as well as to companies outside the industry might be a way of generating more cash flow.
Oddly, at the Shanghai Auto Show this year the company displayed a new vehicle, the Karma GT—designed by Pininfarina.
Karma designed by Pininfarina
The historic plant has built—and is building—a lot of cars in its 70-year run of commercial vehicle production. Today, with the e-Golf and the GTE, it is making what are arguably the most-advanced Volkswagens out there.
Sandy Munro and his team of engineers and costing analysts at Munro & Associates were contacted by UBS Research—an arm of the giant banking and investment firm—and asked whether it was possible to do a teardown and cost assessment of the Chevrolet Bolt EV.
Chinese electric-car startup Nio Inc. is forming a manufacturing joint venture with Beijing E-Town International Investment and Development Co., which is investing 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) in the business.