Karma Automotive, a Southern California-based creator of luxury electric vehicles, used its second Academic Conference to showcase its emergence as a high-tech incubator and how its open-platform can be used by other OEMs and start-ups to speed product development and access to technology.
“Karma is best known as a creator of luxury electric vehicles, but Karma is not just a car company,” CEO Dr. Lance Zhou said in his opening remarks. “Our open-platform business model moves us beyond the traditional car company model based on manufacturing and retail. In fact, Karma is a high-tech incubator: a test bed for partners who can use our luxury EV platform to prove their emerging technologies.”
To illustrate how Karma’s engineering technology resources can help others speed product development, the company used a special ribbon-cutting ceremony to dedicate a $9M suite of state-of-the-art powertrain test labs at its global headquarters in Irvine, California. The company has steadily increased its investment in the new equipment which includes a traction dynamometer, electric motor dynamometer, and an engine/generator test cell used to evaluate powertrain optimization.
The equipment strengthens Karma’s in-house engineering capabilities as it enters a period of rapid new product introductions and will grow to become a new profit center for the company given the high demand among various industries for this kind of state-of-the-art testing facility, said Dr. Kev Adjemian, Karma VP of Powertrain.
“The result is much faster product development because Karma has full control of important testing technology,” he explains. “Our Powertrain test lab will be available to other companies in need of these kinds of resources, creating new growth and partner opportunities.”
Engaging keynotes featured technologists, academics and policy experts including Dr. Leslie Bromberg, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Dr. Austin Brown, UC Davis Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy; Prof. Matthew Barth, UC Riverside Environmental Research and Technology; and Bruce Falls, AVL California Technology Center.
Those who attended saw the real potential for electric powertrain technology combined with the testing equipment required for validation and commercialization to significantly reduce carbon emissions, reduce dependence on traditional fossil fuels, and improve performance across a variety of heavy and light-duty vehicle applications.
For example, integrating alternative energy sources with Karma’s extended range electric vehicle (EREV) technology, which combines battery power with an on-board electric generator to increase a vehicle’s range beyond what the battery alone can provide, can make plug-in hybrid long-haul trucks more attractive as an alternative to those traditionally powered by diesel fuel.
Discussions also focused on the strong links between research, innovation and local leadership and policy have on future mobility solutions, as well as how dynamometer-in-the-loop technology can facilitate connected and automated eco-driving.
Karma’s Academic Conferences will continue to convene thought leaders, curate discussions to help drive change, build relationships with influential business, academic, civic and industry stakeholders, and help create partnerships to speed product and technology development.
“Karma’s Academic Conferences will help identify important new business opportunities beyond traditional retail sales,” Zhou explained. “As a high-tech incubator and creative collaborator, we can be an important business partner and resource for OEMs and other start-ups who want to use our niche luxury EV platform as a test bed to prove their emerging technologies.”