Karma Automotive throws its hat in the electric pickup ring

The Fisker Karma's savior also plans an electric SUV

Karma Automotive, the China-based carmaker born from the ashes of Fisker, will enter the electric off-roader segment in the coming years. The company plans to build a pickup and an SUV on the same platform.

The yet-unnamed truck is on track to make its debut as a concept before the end of 2020, according to Bloomberg. How accurately the design study will preview the production model remains to be seen. Kevin Pavlov, Karma's chief operations officer, told the publication the model will ride on a new platform developed to underpin electrified vehicles, and it will be available with all-wheel drive, which is a must in the pickup segment.

Karma previously aired plans to make a truck, it even released a dark teaser image (pictured) to preview the model, but it outlined a model equipped with a gasoline-electric powertrain. "Extended-range powertrains represent a smart alternative to full battery systems," affirmed company CEO Lance Zhou in 2019. Autoblog learned that project, which is called EREV internally, remains on-going, and it's a higher priority for Karma than the electric model detailed in Bloomberg's report.

The SUV will use the pickup's architecture, though it sounds like it won't make its debut until 2021 at the earliest. Building a concept is relatively easy, but making thousands of off-roaders reliably and profitably is far more difficult. Karma's advantage is that it's not starting from scratch, because it currently sells a 403-horsepower plug-in hybrid sedan named Revero that's an updated version of the ill-fated Fisker Karma released in 2011. It's hardly mass-produced: The firm sold 1,000 cars in 2019, though its $135,000 price tag inevitably limits sales.

The truck will cost less than the Revero, though that could mean $134,999 or $35,000. There's no telling how much the SUV will cost yet, but Bloomberg learned it will be a high-end model, so don't expect it to land in the same segment as the Nissan Kicks.

As it stands, buyers in the market for an electric pickup have zero options to choose from, and the electric SUV segment remains relatively small. But both segments will expand during the early 2020s. Rivian, Tesla, Ford, General Motors, and Lordstown are among the companies hoping to electrify the off-roader segment. The stakes are high, because trucks have ruled America's sales charts by a huge margin for decades, and SUVs are in hot demand.

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