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President Marques McCammon Revamps Vehicle Portfolio for Ultra-Luxe Market

Marques McCammon wants Karma Automotive LLC to sit at the top of the auto industry in both luxury and technology, with a brand known for both exclusivity and innovation.

Karma’s March reveal of its upcoming Gyesera sedan is the Irvine-based automaker’s latest step in that direction, and its unveiling provides a blueprint for future releases that introduce new “products and concepts” annually, according to McCammon, who was named president of the luxury vehicle maker a year ago.

“We want to be an enabler of forward-thinking technology,” McCammon told the Business Journal. “I want people to see our little corner of Irvine as a hub for innovation.”

The Gyesera sedan was unveiled last month at the Amelia Island Concours show in Florida.

It is the manufacturer’s first full battery-electric sedan, with production targeted for the end of 2024.

A major update includes the first Karma-built battery pack.

“It’s time to be building our batteries in our facilities,” McCammon said.

The Gyesera—pronounced gee-ya-sare-ah—will have a starting price of $195,000 with deliveries set for next year. It’s expected to have an electric powertrain that’ll provide 590 horsepower and 693 pound-feet of torque, a top speed of 135 mph, and a battery range around 250 miles.

Limited Sales

Karma Automotive was created following the 2013 bankruptcy of luxe automaker Fisker Automotive, after that local company’s assets were sold to a China-backed firm and restructured in Irvine in 2014.

The new company kept the name Karma, which was the first vehicle introduced by Fisker Automotive.

The Irvine-based firm, currently the fifth largest automaker in Orange County by employee count, has no ties to Fisker Inc., the Manhattan Beach-based EV maker founded in 2016 by Henrik Fisker, which is now experiencing its own financial issues.

McCammon took over the top spot last year at Karma Automotive from Lance Zhou, and counts 30 years of product development and engineering in the transportation industry.

Prior to Karma, he served as global managing director for Ricardo Inc., an international environmental, engineering and strategic transportation company.

Since joining Karma, McCammon has laid out a strategy that relies on a revamp of Karma’s vehicle portfolio, to match the likes of Aston Martin or Ferrari with smaller volumes and higher price points.

Karma reported about 500 U.S. vehicle sales in 2022 and 2023; it halted production last May to “put a clear focus on quality,” he said.

The automaker now has three new EVs scheduled to launch through 2026—the Revero, the Gyesera and the Kaveya. Planning for the new vehicles started soon after McCammon joined in May.

Gyesera’s Bridge

McCammon dubbed the all-electric Gyesera as Karma’s “bridge,” pointing to the
car as the connecting piece between its foundational EV, the Revero, and its upcoming higher end model, the Kaveya super coupe.

“It’s aimed towards moving the brand upmarket,” McCammon said.

Each model will have a limited number of vehicles made to set up that level of exclusivity. No more than 800 Gyeseras will be built per year, McCammon said.

The Revero, an updated version of Karma’s hybrid sedan GT from 2016, will be the first to come to market this year during the third quarter.

McCammon described the car as an entry point to Karma, starting around $143,000 as the lowest price.

“We want to evolve that product to serve as the base of our brand,” he said.

Karma announced the Kaveya BEV model last November as the flagship model and highest end of its vehicle line, or its “North Star.”

“We wanted to put that stake in the ground first so that everyone can get a sense of where Karma is going,” McCammon said.

There will be two versions of the super coupe available, one with rear-wheel drive and the other with all-wheel drive, in 2025 then 2026 respectively.

Kaveya reservations require a $10,000 deposit. The base price of the EV coupe will be $300,000.

“For us, playing at a high end of the market with a very particular kind of customer, we can push in a way where we can share our learnings with the broader industry,” McCammon said.

“I look at my vehicles as a validation platform for technology.”

Tech Upgrade

When McCammon first joined Karma, he began an assessment of the EV maker’s projects and data.

The company “cut spending on programs that weren’t clearly aligned to drive the short- and long-term value of our enterprise, and we rallied the team around a vision to be a leader in the future ultra-luxury vehicle market,” he said last week.

He felt that the company had fallen behind in curating its software program and began trying to increase its tech capabilities.

The first step was to start gradually changing the connected vehicle platform, called the Karma Cloud Service, or “the backbone of the vehicle’s architecture,” McCammon said.

The software allows the company to deliver digital updates to each vehicle, similar to a Tesla or Rivian electric vehicle, and also contact drivers about their EVs through notifications similar to a mobile device.

These features “are what enables us to create the ultra-luxury experiences,” McCammon said.

The executive’s idea is to take the modern digital experience of the driver and combine it with premium features within a Karma car, which is designed to evolve with every new model.

Airbiquity Buy

Karma recently acquired Seattle-based Airbiquity which had been developing its own software vehicle platform along with data management, diagnostics and over-the-air platforms.

“These things matched our roadmap like Lego blocks,” McCammon said.

The deal included acquiring Airbiquity’s intellectual property and integrating it into Karma, along with hiring key members of the firm to continue their work as part of the automaker.

McCammon said the firm was an early purveyor of connected vehicle technology such as “infotainment” and telematics, and that he had known of their technology for several years.

Airbiquity has operated in around 60 countries working with original equipment manufacturers, such as Nissan and General Motors, for the past two decades.

“They’ve really codified a solution that is more universal and more inclusive,” McCammon said.

“I needed a way to accelerate to state-of-the-art [software] as quickly as possible and this gave me a path to do that,” he said.

McCammon is also looking to add new supercomputing hardware to the car.

“By the time we get to the Kaveya, and the vehicles that follow, we’re going to change the entire computing platform in the car,” McCammon said.

“Tremendous resources have been invested into this company and our mission is to maximize the value of that capital while creating a new kind of luxury experience for our customers,” he said last week.

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