Electric Car Maker Fisker Has a New Name


Troubled startup Fisker Automotive seeks to form a strategic partnership with either a Chinese automaker or a Chinese battery maker so it can continue to market its made-in-Finland hybrids. Meanwhile, uncertain about the demand for his $100,000 electric sedan causes Tesla founder Elon Musk to refinance his $475 million U.S. loan and sell advertising space on his SpaceX rockets.
Courtesy: Fisker Automotive

Fisker Automotive, the failed and relaunched luxury electric car startup, has renamed itself and the electric car it plans to sell later this year.

The company is now called Karma Automotive, a nod to its original electric car called the Karma, according to the Wall Street Journal. The rebranded company, now owned by Wanxiang, will call its first luxury electric car the Revero.

The move isn’t all that surprising considering the original company went bankrupt three years ago after only delivering 2,000 electric cars that were plagued with mechanical, software, and battery problems. Chinese auto parts company Wanxiang America acquired the company out of bankruptcy.

The Revero will use a design based on the original Karma car including the sports car curves first conceived by Fisker founder Henrik Fisker, according to the Wall Street Journal (read about what designer Henrik Fisker is up to these days). But the Revero car will also use new electric car technology and components from BMW.

For more on info on Henrik Fisker watch our video.

The company now has 500 employees, many whom are working at Karma Automotive’s headquarters in Costa Mesa, Calif., in Orange County. It plans to produce the car in the U.S.—unlike its predecessor, which handled early manufacturing in Finland—in a factory an hour outside of Los Angeles in Moreno Valley.

It remains to be seen just how enthusiastic electric car customers will be to buy the Revero. While there was a lot of interest in the original Karma car’s sleek design, the company shocked many in becoming one of the largest startup failures in history.

The company raised close to $1.2 billion, some funds from well-known Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, and tapped into a close to $200 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy. When Fisker started to struggle and couldn’t repay the government funds it became a political punching bag, and a talking points for the Obama administration’s critics.

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On the other hand, electric cars are starting to become increasingly popular, thanks to a path paved by early car makers like Tesla (TSLA), Nissan and GM. Recently Tesla received close to 400,000 reservations for its new $35,000 car the Model 3, which won’t be delivered until the end of 2017.

Other startups are coming out of the woodwork with new electric cars, some with high end luxury ambitions like Karma Automotive. If the Revero is similar to the original Karma, it’ll cost over $100,000. Another Silicon Valley startup called Renovo Motors is building a high end electric super car. Meanwhile, startup Faraday Future which is backed by a Chinese tech billionaire, plans to build luxury electric cars at a factory in Nevada.

Owner Wanxiang may be Karma Automotive’s best asset. Wanxiang has invested in other electric car technology over the years, has deep pockets, and has connections with distributors in China, which will is expected to become one of the word’s largest markets for electric cars.

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