In certain industry sectors, especially when it comes to household goods or foods, it’s fairly common to see a company change the name of a product or service as part of a corporate restructuring — or to shake off an old, uncomfortable image associated with a former name.
From candy bars to cleaners and cellphone companies to condiments, rebranding can also help a newly-acquired product blend in with its parent company, something advertising agencies often recommend to reinforce the new corporate relationship while retaining its prior customers at the same time.
Occasionally, automakers change the names of their vehicles — as Mercedes-Benz did last year — in an attempt to simplify model names. But yesterday via social media site Twitter, recently-resurrected automaker Fisker announced it has changed its name to Karma.
— Fisker Automotive (@FiskerAuto) September 30, 2015
As those familiar with the company formerly known as Fisker will remember, the name Karma was previously used by Fisker as the name of its first production plug-in hybrid sports sedan. Powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a 20.1 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, the Fisker Karma offered an all-electric range of just 32 miles per charge and managed a fuel economy of just 20 mpg combined when operating in range-extending mode.
Despite its limited range and abysmal fuel economy, the Fisker Karma entered production and began U.S. deliveries a few weeks ahead of the Tesla Model S, but less than two years after going on sale and with less than 2,500 Karmas built, Fisker was in trouble, plagued by recalls and battery problems.
Add in financial problems which saw the company end production in November 2012 and file for bankruptcy protection a year later, and Fisker Automotive — and its beautifully designed Karma sedan — seemed doomed to the footnotes of history.
But in order to recoup some of the $192 million it had loaned to the company under the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program the U.S. Department of Energy auctioned off Fiskers’ debts for $25 million, and sold the remains of Fisker’s assets to Chinese automaker Wanxiang.
The trail then went dead for some time, before Fisker resurfaced earlier this year with a new website pledging its commitment to existing Fisker Karma owners through a comprehensive service and warranty program.
Newly-renamed and with a new logo to boot, Karma’s new website includes a brand-new video — the latest in a long line of lavish teaser films produced for the brand over the past five years.
Below the video, the company tries to explain its name change.
It’s always been Karma.
It’s in our DNA. It’s a name that respects our past, while simultaneously reinventing our future. An awareness of what we are doing, and how and why we are doing it.
It’s old. It’s new.
We will deliver a unique combination of advanced-technology with timeless design. Built for discerning individuals that want to EXPERIENCE a car.
Acting with intention.
Cause and effect. It’s what Karma means. We don’t have to do things as anyone has done them before. What’s important is that we act with intention.
The rest of the site, which manages to say little of the car that Karma says will hit the market in early 2016, throws in a couple of arty photos of the former Fisker Karma sedan, making us believe the car Karma intends to bring to market is the same car which ceased production in 2012.
But there’s just one question we can’t figure out. If Fisker is now Karma — and the car is also called the Karma — does that mean we’re about to see the Karma Karma launch?
If that’s the case, we can think of only one song that’s appropriate to mark its illustrious return, however ironic that may be in this particular instance.
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