Karma Revero (nee Fisker) to blend dealers and Tesla-like showrooms


Fisker of Bellevue, Washington, dealership in October 2012 [photo by Bill D via Foursquare]

Fisker of Bellevue, Washington, dealership in October 2012 [photo by Bill D via Foursquare]

Karma Automotive appears to be making progress in resurrecting the car formerly known as the Fisker Karma.

Now called the Karma Revero, the luxury sedan recently entered pilot production at a new factory in Moreno Valley, California.

But once Karma starts building cars destined for buyers, even in low volume, it will need places to sell them.

DON'T MISS: Karma Revero (nee Fisker) now in pilot production in CA

Part of the company's strategy is to enlist new franchised dealers to replace the disbanded Fisker dealership network.

But Karma plans to open Tesla-like company-owned stores as well, according to Automotive News (subscription required).

These "brand experience centers" will be used to promote the company, and will be located only in states that allow direct sales.

2012 Fisker Karma from the Rogers' Classic Car Museum collection

2012 Fisker Karma from the Rogers' Classic Car Museum collection

Tesla continues to battle several states over its practice of selling cars directly to customers, and is prohibited from doing so in some places.

The first Karma "brand experience center" will open in Orange County California within the next month.

Karma plans to unveil the production-spec Revero there September 8.

ALSO SEE: One Former Fisker Dealer Vanishes Into History (Photos) (Aug 2013)

The carmaker expects some of the same benefits from company-owned stores as Tesla has espoused, including a low-pressure educational environment that is more attractive to customers, and the ability to more promote its brand and products more directly.

At the same time, Karma also has 10 franchised dealerships lined up, covering both the U.S. and Canada.

Every one of them already sells other brands, specifically high-end marques like Lamborghini and Rolls-Royce.

Former Fisker of Bellevue, Washington, dealership, closed as of July 2013 [photo: Brian Henderson]

Former Fisker of Bellevue, Washington, dealership, closed as of July 2013 [photo: Brian Henderson]

In addition to the new Revero, Karma dealers will also service existing 2012 Fisker Karma sedans.

While some updates are expected, Karma has indicated that it will not change the original Fisker design too drastically.

MORE: Virginia dealers double down on Tesla attack, demand probe of sales

It is unlikely that Karma will place franchised dealerships and company-owned stores in the same markets.

That's because existing franchise laws in many states specifically prohibit carmakers from operating their own stores in competition with their franchised dealers.

2012 Fisker Karma + Aero L-39 Albatros jet trainer, Hollister Municipal Airport, CA [by Refael Azi]

2012 Fisker Karma + Aero L-39 Albatros jet trainer, Hollister Municipal Airport, CA [by Refael Azi]

While Tesla argues that those rules don't apply to it—because it has never had any franchised dealers—lobbying groups in several states have now had the language of laws changed to prohibit any direct sales of cars by a manufacturer.

Karma could potentially face similar legal challenges as it attempts to launch the Revero.

Dealers are reportedly taking orders for the car, at prices somewhere north of $100,000.

Karma hopes to begin full-scale production before the end of the year.

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