Karma Automotive, the Chinese-owned automaker born from Fisker Automotive Inc., is partnering with Drive Motors, an online car-shopping and financing platform, in an effort to expand its scope despite its small dealership count.
"Our partnership enables us to expand Karma's retail footprint beyond our current local markets, providing unprecedented accessibility to potential customers across the United States," Ehren Bragg, director for Karma's company-owned store in Orange County, Calif., said in a statement on Tuesday.
In addition to the Orange County store, Karma has 15 franchised dealerships throughout the U.S. and Canada. The Drive Motors platform was installed for use by the Orange County store this month. While there's no set timeline for expanding the platform beyond the one location, it's likely to happen in mid-2019, a spokeswoman said.
Karma also plans to open three more company-owned stores in California next year, and Bragg said Drive also will be used there.
Once the Orange County store ramps up advertising before year end, Bragg expects 5 to 10 percent of transactions to come from digital interactions through Drive Motors.
Aaron Krane, Drive Motors CEO, told Automotive News that the partnership gives Drive Motors an opportunity to be involved in a dealership startup.
"Unlike the existing OEMs, Karma has an opportunity to design a modern dealership," Krane said. "Karma is building dealerships in 2018, not 1990 or 1960."
Plus, as a small automaker, Karma can "move quickly and be very decisive," he said.
In February 2014, certain assets of Fisker Automotive were acquired by Chinese auto parts conglomerate Wanxiang Group in a bankruptcy auction. Those assets became Karma Automotive.
Karma declined to reveal sales numbers for its only product, the Revero plug-in hybrid sedan.
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