INTERVIEW: The Karma Revero Will Succeed Where The Fisker Failed

Luxury

For one, the quality issues have supposedly been solved.

The business of selling cars is quite a good one to be in at the moment. Cheap gas and a post-recession economy has spurred auto sales to the point that many automakers are posting record profits and even companies that took a plunge in the past decade or two are seeing recovery and better brand prominence on the horizon. Even with low gas prices, consumers have picked up an interest in electric cars due to curiosity, a lessened taxation on the eco-conscious mind, or because of the love of technology.

Combined, the current climate is fertile ground for a small and bespoke automaker that sells electric cars to emerge from the dead. Of course, we are talking about Karma here, which is the zombie spin-off of Fisker Automotive. The small automaker built the Karma in 2011 and it was only on sale until 2012 when the company filed for bankruptcy. Now that the Fisker Karma is back under the name Karma Revero, we wanted to see just what makes the Revero different from its ancestor, which admittedly had a knack for catching on fire. We spoke with Jim Taylor, the Chief Revenue Officer for Karma Automotive, to discuss just what makes the Revero different than the Fisker Karma it replaces.

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In short, it’s both nothing and everything. The Revero doesn’t necessarily do anything different that the Fisker couldn’t do except travel a few extra miles on battery power without the 2.0-liter four-cylinder generator kicking in. However, building the Revero required the team to redesign the car by analyzing which components on the Fisker went wrong and then provide a remedy. “At the time (of the Fisker), the whole economy and the market was coming down so it was rush rush rush, so consequently they did end up with some quality problems that might have been able to be solved if they had adequate time to fish them out,” said Taylor. Not so with the Revero.

Taylor dispelled doubts by saying, “The big difference this time is with a private owner and patient capital, we have no mandatory delivery date or volume targets to meet.” The added time to allow for more testing and refinement is only one way that Karma expects the Revero to trump its predecessor. The other tactic is gunning for the known issues that plagued the Fisker. “We’ve had two years of knowing what those issues were and focusing our whole engineering team on fixing those and then doing the updates that are required to stay competitive in the market as we launch in 2016 as opposed to 2012,” said Taylor. This means that many of the upgrades will go unnoticed behind the scenes.

These include drivetrain components borrowed from BMW, a brand new wiring harness, and structural changes that help the Revero meet current safety standards. While the interior and exterior will remain nearly identical, buyers will be treated to a few extra color and trim options inside including beige, black, dark and light colors, and new lighting schemes. One of the more apparent changes will be the new infotainment system, which will replace the highly criticized unit in the Fisker Karma. The Karma team used the Kanzi development platform from automotive software development company Rightware to help remove punching of the touchscreen from the list of side effects of owning a Karma product.

Aside from that, the Revero will remain fairly attached to the design and character outlined by the Fisker Karma. According to Taylor, that’s a good thing. “This car (the Fisker Karma) came and went so fast…they never had a chance to fully exploit the product and the styling that they produced. The initial reaction was amazing.” At the end of the day, the majority of the Revero’s appeal comes down to its design. Coming from the pen of the same man that designed the iconic and timeless Aston Martin DB9, we’d expect the Revero to do well as long as it doesn’t run into any more quality issues. If it can manage that, then maybe we’ll one day be able to lay our eyes on the Karma SUV.

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