Karma's New EV Powertrain Produces Its Own Hydrogen

Technology / Comments

Testing will kick off this year.

Karma Automotive continues to break away from its Fisker past. Originally founded by Henrik Fisker before filing for bankruptcy, the Irvine, California-based carmaker has just announced it is joining forces with Denmark's Blue World Technologies to develop a new electric vehicle powertrain that uses methanol fuel cells to produce hydrogen. Plans are still in place to launch the Karma GSe-6 electric sedan sometime this year, and this new technology will itself begin testing in the coming months.

Here's how the tech works: The system uses a methanol fuel cell that requires about the same amount of time to fill as a regular gas tank.

Karma Automotive
Karma Automotive
Karma Automotive

It then goes through a methanol reformer to produce hydrogen, which is used to generate the power needed to make the vehicle move. Methanol is a hydrogen-carrier commodity fuel widely available throughout the globe and can be produced using renewable sources, which helps to create a carbon-neutral result.

Karma and Blue World Technologies intend to install the new powertrain into a fleet of GSe-6 sedans and testing will take place in the US and Denmark. If no major technical and/or mechanical hiccups occur, the companies aim to put the system into production, though no predicted launch date has been given.

Karma Automotive
Karma Automotive
Karma Automotive
Karma Automotive
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"We are investing in these types of powertrain technologies now to prepare for an emission-free world by having various extended-range electrification solutions that include hydrogen, ethanol and methanol fuel cells as a propulsion system," said Dr. Lance Zhou, Karma's Chief Executive Officer.

Another unknown and pretty important factor is cost. Large automakers have the ability to scale production, such as batteries and combustion engines, to reduce costs, but a new system like this factored with Karma's small-size could ultimately lead to an expensive product. Still, it's always good to see automakers, big and small, innovate and come up with creative solutions to reduce emissions while still maintaining a fun-to-drive vehicle.

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