The Chinese auto parts conglomerate with an eye on revitalizing failed Fisker Automotive continues to make strides.
For starters, names and underpinnings have changed, along with production locations, and significantly improved quality is being promised for the luxury performance plug-in hybrid that could go on sale this year.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the company known since last year as Karma Automotive will begin selling the rebadged former Fisker Karma which is being called now the Karma Revero.
Last year the company trying to position itself had said it would be called the “Elux” but this was not mentioned in this week’s Journal report after an interview with the company.
In any case, the Revero is to be built in California, said a representative of the Wanxiang Group, and is to get electric control and charging systems from BMW AG as part of an agreement with the German automaker.
“There are huge, serious, major upgrades throughout the electronics systems, wiring, charging, battery,” said Jim Taylor, chief marketing officer and a former General Motors executive to the Journal. “It just won’t be visible to the naked eye.”
The name “Revero” combines the Latin prefix “Re” with “vero” which together means “truth.”
Another truth is the company is attempting to distance itself from a past which has left some bitter over green energy, U.S. subsidies of alternative energy, and the company itself.
In 2009, the U.S. Energy Department loaned more than half of a billion dollars to the start-up run by Henrik Fisker. Quality concerns, alleged mismanagement, and being adversely affected by problems outside its control with battery supplier A123 Systems contributed to the company’s downfall.
The Energy Department says taxpayers came up short $139 million after the company was sold to the Chinese investors.
Today, newly re-named Karma Automotive has 500 employees, reports the Journal, most of which are located in Costa Mesa, Calif.
A new 556,000-square-foot assembly plant with tooling and equipment relocated from Finland is staffed with about 100 of these employees.
Taylor said Karma Automotive will begin taking orders for the revamped Revero with an unveiling planned July or August but with price and actual delivery date not divulged.
“If you manufacture all kinds of hype then fail to deliver on time, it undermines your credibility,” said Taylor. “We are being careful about making promises [because] things happen in car development.”