THE NEW KARMA GT DESIGNED BY PININFARINA
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April 2019 – It’s impossible for a small, pioneering challenger brand to succeed in the established automotive industry without solid partners. Symbiosis is a basic building block of nature, and is vital to the success of up-and-coming companies. Long-term partnerships will be essential to Karma Automotive and its mission to be an open-platform, high-tech automotive incubator. Since 2014, Karma Automotive has built a fully-operational enterprise and value chain of nearly 1,000 employees, and over the past few years has formed strategic relationships with companies that are developing new technologies, taking engineering risks, and challenging convention in automotive design. Today Karma Automotive is honored to share the stunning result of one such partnership: The Karma GT designed by Pininfarina.
A message from our CEO, Dr. Liang “Lance” Zhou:
“I’ve said many times that Karma will use partnerships to speed up development of products and technologies. Our business and product plan is driven in part by collaborating with like-minded and nimble partners such as Pininfarina, whose design expertise will help us accelerate product development, differentiation, and personalized customization so every Karma built can be truly special. Karma is united in spirit with Pininfarina through a shared commitment to stunning design. As a relatively young start-up company, Karma does not yet have the deep financial and in-house technological resources of an established OEM, but we will use partnerships to accelerate our progress by acquiring and developing key technologies important to connectivity, performance, artificial intelligence, shared mobility platforms, and electrification. Partners can use our product platform as an incubator to test and prove their new innovations, and likewise, our engineering and design resources can be offered to help other partners advance their needs. It shows how Karma is moving from a traditional ‘old value’ business model, based purely on manufacturing and sales, to a ‘new value’ business model that shares platforms and resources to create multiple revenue streams.”
A mutual attraction
Both Karma Automotive and Pininfarina craft beautiful, well-engineered automobiles, each cleverly and expertly finished. Both brands easily recognized synergies and compatible areas of expertise, and Karma and Pininfarina fundamentally agree on how to direct and build businesses in the rapidly changing automotive market. Both companies maintain small footprints in order to be agile, move fast, and quickly pursue new innovations and breakthroughs in automotive engineering and design, and each is investing in the other, inviting one another to draft off successes while leveraging their partner’s network to raise awareness and attract new clients.
“I’ve got great respect for Pininfarina. There aren’t many ‘true greats’ of automotive design left, but Pininfarina is. It’s more than a design house. They’re engineers, too, so you know what they produce will be real and viable … without good engineering intel, you end up with a design you can’t build. Working with Pininfarina, we knew we’d get a stunning design that is production feasible.”
– Barny Koehler, Karma Automotive’s Chief Innovation Officer & President – China
A leading player in the luxury industry, the Pininfarina Group has been moving dreams since 1930. Icon of the Italian design in the world, it has contributed to write the history of the global automotive industry. Through a long process of growth and transformation, ideas and creativity, Pininfarina has evolved from an artisan concern to an international service Group. Listed on the Stock Exchange and part of the Mahindra galaxy since 2016, the Pininfarina Group continues to be the benchmark of the auto and industrial design, deeply involved to designing customer journeys and unique user experiences merging physical and digital worlds through aesthetics and technology.
With its headquarters in Cambiano, Torino, the Group employs nearly 700 people through its offices in Italy, Germany, China and the United States. The core business is design and engineering services where Pininfarina can leverage on its strong brand name and its outstanding and indisputable reputation as a car designer, to be extended to other sectors, together with its excellent technical knowhow in specific segments of the industrial engineering services value chain, such as production of bespoke cars and aerodynamics. The Pininfarina Group also represents today one of the most prestigious brands in Architecture and Interiors with hundreds of projects and dozens of awards achieved.
Pininfarina intends to strengthen its presence in Los Angeles to improve market share and brand recognition in North America. According to Silvio Pietro Angori, CEO of Pininfarina SpA, Los Angeles is a hub of innovation for automotive and industrial design, says L.A. is “the place to be” for an expanding automotive business with prestige and nine decades of experience. Who better for Pininfarina to partner with the only American-made carmaker in Southern California?
“Karma Automotive has a strong strategic development plan, and has announced its intention to make a strong break from the point of view of growth and development plans. Karma developed a car in small volumes compared to the American car market at large, but Karma has become known as a brand. IT is distinctive and has personality as a brand, and, for us, binding ourselves to a brand building its own history is very positive.”
–CEO of Pininfarina SpA, Silvio Pietro Angori
Aligning with other perspectives
Karma Automotive first approached Pininfarina in August 2018 to ask if the Italian design house wanted to style and engineer an all-new 2020 Karma Revero. As stunning as the 2020 Revero is, Karma believes in challenging itself and wanted to see how a renown styling firm would reimagine its head-turning design. How far could Pininfarina dare Revero’s design without changing its fundamental engineering parameters?
Pininfarina took one look at Revero and its proportions, and agreed to take on the project. Every designer in Pininfarina’s Cambiano studio wanted a chance to work on the project, knowing it would be a stand-out design exercise. Pininfarina shared its first sketches with Karma last September, and the build program officially started in December; Karma Automotive wanted no influence whatsoever over Pininfarina’s design, allowing its new partner to be creatively unbound.
“It’s great for Karma’s perspective to give another company the same vehicle we have and let them come up with a different design direction. We get an entirely different flavor and viewpoint, and that’s a great challenge to us all … it keeps us on our toes.”
– Barny Koehler, Karma Automotive’s Chief Innovation Officer & President – China
The Karma GT Designed By Pininfarina
- A true “Gran Turismo,” with a two-door layout and luxurious appointments throughout.
- Aggressive faces, all-new body sides, and contrasting roof wholly change vehicle’s character.
- New Pininfarina body required modifications to frame and suspension for proper fit.
Pininfarina thinks the 2020 Karma Revero is “a magnificent, elegant, and statuesque vehicle that sparks a lot of emotion,” but the Italian company wanted to create a more assertive vehicle, something with more traditional “Italian sports car” flair. It settled on a GT, or “Gran Turismo;” traditionally, a GT is a two-door, rear-wheel-drive luxury car comfortable enough to drive long distances, but also fully capable of spirited driving when the road starts to curve. Pininfarina started its GT build by stripping down its donor Revero and prepping the all-aluminum frame to mate with a totally new, two-door body.
The Karma GT designed by Pininfarina respects the Revero’s recognizable proportions, but its exterior is drastically and wonderfully different. Most notably, this is a two-door coupe, which required Pininfarina to build new body sides from the ground up. The door handles are flush with the bodyside in order to keep the volumes as pure as possible because its surface language is simplified; with relaxed shoulders and a softer feature line, the car expresses personality through choice modifications to the body. A tasteful contrasting black roof complements bone gray paint, and trim work is finished in either piano black or smoked gun metal gray. The front end is more aggressive, with a symmetrically slatted grille and squinty LED headlights. The outside corners of the front fascia kick upward to match the dramatically styled, cross-cutting rocker panels that ground the GT. The back of the car is very powerful yet pure and elegant. Its two iconic boomerang-shaped tail lamps confer to the rear volume lightness and modernity. The Karma GT’s seductive, sucked-in waistline looks best in plain view, but its powerful, proud stance is better appreciated from a crouch.
“We have a mantra: to create perfectly balanced and elegant volumes, with a clear and understandable design theme, interesting details, and a sense of holistic resolution of the entire creation. The Karma GT is a true Pininfarina, because it features the right balance between character and harmony. It’s easy to create something with so much character that it becomes ugly. You can also create something which is harmonious but lacks character, and thus isn’t of interest to the observer. The difficulty is creating something that wisely combines and balances character with harmony … something that raises our interest and provokes our pleasure in a refined and balanced way. The Karma GT designed by Pininfarina features impressive yet harmonious volumes with a lot of character, and voluptuous surfaces homogenously resolved.”
–Carlo Bonzanigo, Design Vice President Pininfarina SpA
White and off-white leathers blanket the bright, inviting interior, and elegant burgundy piping underlines the main shapes of the cabin and contrasts nicely with the creamy leather. The seats feature a new quilting scheme to emphasize the sensation of comfort. Bits of soft, velvet-like nubuck hide and satin aluminum trim create a modern atmosphere with a hint of old-world sophistication. Multi-tone stitching adds to the atmosphere of the carefully elevated interior, and a small, embossed Italian flag on the exterior side of the seat backrests is a playful reminder of the Karma GT’s providence.
Working together on tomorrow
Typically, Pininfarina reserves the “Gran Turismo” designation for only its most exceptional, in-house builds, but not the Karma GT designed by Pininfarina; this is the first time in Pininfarina’s history that “GT” will grace a collaborative product. It’s a true Pininfarina, and a great Karma; if the Karma GT by Pininfarina piques the interest of enough enthusiasts, Karma Automotive could introduce a limited run of production vehicles. If that happens, Pininfarina will build the cars in its atelier outside of Turin and will invite customers so they can personally configure their GT, making their car a “tailored suit”, as only Pininfarina can do. For now, though, Karma Automotive is capturing select characteristics of the Karma GT designed by Pininfarina and working them into forthcoming production vehicles.
“I think partnerships are essential for the success of any brand, regardless of what you’re making or designing. Being able to harness someone else’s experience and expertise is invaluable. For us, being able to collaborate with Pininfarina is hugely significant.”
–Paul Houghton, Karma Automotive’s Vice president of Design Operations & Craftsmanship
While Karma Automotive and Pininfarina are at very different places in their respective histories, the two companies are now serendipitously aligned, at the start of a long-term partnership, standing together on the edge of a new automotive era. Both are ambitious, both want to grow, and both want to learn from one another’s missteps and successes, and in turn develop a deeper, broader relationship. Together, Karma Automotive and Pininfarina will continue challenging convention in automotive design, and hopefully the Karma GT designed by Pininfarina is only the first of many coach-built Karmas to come.