The Karma Revero is Green Car Journal’s 2018 Luxury Green Car of the Year, earning this distinction for many reasons. But let’s start here: The Revero is the most head-turning vehicle we have ever driven. Period. The attention this stunning grand touring car gets wherever it is driven is just short of amazing. If you’re lucky enough to own one, get used to it. This will never change.
Karma Automotive, a company owned by China’s Wanxiang Group, has revived the impressive but short-lived Fisker Karma extended range electric car that made a brief appearance on the market five years ago, thoroughly reengineered it, and has reintroduced it as the ‘Revero.’ The company wisely left most of the car’s breathtaking exterior design intact with a few tweaks, devoting its efforts instead to major technology improvements and creating a wondrous interior to complement the car’s incredible looks. The company then strategically set up its headquarters and manufacturing in Southern California, the land of electric cars. Even in California, where car culture is king and there’s no shortage of coolness on wheels, this car is clearly special.
The $130,000 Karma Revero is built on a lightweight aluminum spaceframe and powered by two high-power electric motors, both energized by lithium-ion batteries positioned along the car’s centerline. This pair of AC permanent magnet motors provides a combined 403 horsepower and 981 lb-ft torque driving the rear wheels, delivering a 0-60 mph sprint in 5.4 seconds.
Like the Chevrolet Volt, the Karma Revero is a series hybrid that uses an internal combustion engine solely to drive a generator, which in turn supplies electricity to the electric drive motors or to the car’s battery pack. There is no mechanical connection between the engine and wheels. The Revero delivers an estimated 50 miles on batteries alone and about 300 miles total on batteries and electricity generated by its engine-generator.
The Revero’s battery pack can be fully charged in about 10 hours using the car’s onboard charger operating on 120-volt household power. With a 240-volt charger this drops down to just under four hours. A 480-volt rapid charger enables charging to 80 percent of the battery’s capacity in just 24 minutes. The Revero has a large solar roof that’s claimed to contribute up to 1.5 miles of battery power per day, depending on weather conditions. This feature makes the Revero the first production car in the country to be powered by electricity, solar, and gasoline.
A driver has three selectable drive modes – Stealth (pure electric), Sustain (gasoline engine/generator or ‘EV later’ mode), and Sport (battery electric plus generator for maximum performance). Stealth mode would ideally be used in town where zero-emission driving is preferred, with a switch to Sustain model outside of town. The latter would maintain the batteries’ state-of-charge to enable zero-emission Stealth driving again when returning to the city. There are three levels of regenerative braking for desired deceleration and massive Brembo brakes for conventional braking.
Revero is well-connected and able to make software updates wirelessly, using Blackberry’s Certicom cryptography as an added security layer within QNX-secured two-way data transmission. The Revero has an eight-speaker audio system with Bluetooth connectivity and three USB charging ports. Driver assistance includes lane departure warning and a backup camera. A 12.3-inch-wide multi-configurable driver display is provided along with a 10.2-inch touchscreen-only infotainment system.
The premium ‘green’ car field is expanding with impressive models available from noted domestic and offshore luxury brands. Each has its strengths and customer appeal. In the realm of plug-in hybrids or extended range electric cars where sheer – maybe intoxicating – beauty is at the top of the list, the Karma Revero truly has no peer.