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Karma's New Dawn is happening in Shanghai, but is it a big enough change?

The company best known for retooling the old Fisker Karma design is trying to expand its horizons, but is it going far enough with its plans to be taken seriously?

Karma's collaboration with design house Pininfarina is a winner in our book. Losing the Revero's rear doors and adding a Ferrari-like nose completely changes the car.
Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Karma has been hyping up the advent of its "New Dawn" for a while now, and we've been curious what the company will do for the future -- other than iterate on the Fisker Karma, which it's been doing for years.

Now we know. In addition to a refreshed Revero with tweaked styling and a BMW gasoline range extender, Karma pulled the wraps off of two other new cars. The first was done in concert with Italian design house Pininfarina and is basically a reskinned Revero. The second is a concept vehicle done in-house by the brand.

Pininfarina GT

The Pininfarina GT is, as we said, a reskinned 2020 Revero, but the reskin is relatively comprehensive. Not only has the vehicle's exterior been reimagined, but the interior as well. The most notable change between the Revero and the Pininfarina car is the omission of the Revero's rear doors.

As a very long coupe, the Pininfarina GT kind of works in a way that the Revero -- and the Fisker Karma before it -- don't. It reminds us of the mostly forgotten "personal luxury car" market segment that was popular in the 1950s and 1960s. Think Cadillac Eldorado or Lincoln Mark II. It's a good look.

From a business standpoint, this Pininfarina collaboration is smart. It allows the small carmaker to produce a second model without having to go to the expense of engineering and developing new drivetrains or platform architecture.

Karma's SC1 Vision concept is inspired by racing aircraft from the 1920s and '30s and was conceived to be the perfect car to take up California's coast.

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Karma SC1 Vision concept

Karma's other big reveal is its SC1 Vision concept. The design was done in house and is meant to offer a peek at the fully battery-electric future that Karma is planning for itself.

The SC1's unique aesthetic was overseen by ex-Mazda designer Jacques Flynn and is meant to be the ideal vehicle in which to drive along California's Pacific Coast Highway. The Hughes Aircraft H-1 racer inspires the exterior design of the SC1, and that's apparent in the low windscreen and tall cowl that then extends out into a superlong hood.

Inside it appears to be all chopped (rather than woven) carbon fiber and leather. The interior space is very heavily segregated with a tall center console separating driver and passenger. It looks almost like two distinct cockpits.

Probably our favorite feature of the SC1 Vision is the design of its massive doors. Karma is calling them "wing doors" and it's hard not to be impressed by the sheer size of them. According to Karma's press release, the designers had to come up with a new hinge design to allow them to rotate around the front wheels. Based solely on the press images that Karma released, the door design looks similar to the style that Koenigsegg uses which it calls a dihedral synchro-helix.

The 2020 Karma Revero looks an awful lot like the old one, but packs three-cylinder BMW power under the hood.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

2020 Revero GT

The most significant change to the Revero GT involves a move from the previous model's GM-based four-cylinder gasoline engine to a new turbocharged three-cylinder model sourced from BMW.

The other big change is that Karma was able to find 357 pounds of weight savings for the new model, which leaves it at just over 5,000 lbs. Additional changes include the ability to go 80 miles on battery charge alone, up from 50 miles in the previous incarnation.

Inside, there are a few updates, the most notable of which is the new steering wheel with haptic feedback. Interior leather still comes from Scotland, and interior wood is being ethically sourced from trees that died of natural causes. No, we're not joking.

Karma hasn't made mention of the price of the 2020 GT, but the outgoing Revero model was well over $100,000, and we don't expect that to change.

That brings us to the primary problem with Karma. Why would anyone pay six figures for a car that's based on a 7-year-old design from another company and isn't as capable an EV as a Chevy Bolt (which costs around one-third as much as a Revero) or as nice as a comparably priced Mercedes-Benz? If Karma can figure that out, then it might have a shot.