Reveal

The Karma Revero Is Finally Here, But Can It Take On The Tesla Model S?

Maybe not, but 981 lb-ft of torque and rear-wheel drive never hurts.

There’s something strange about California’s tendency to be fertile ground for rising electric car manufacturers. The biggest success story is obviously Tesla Motors, but the tale that typically gets hushed is that of Karma Automotive. Previously known as Fisker Automotive, the Anaheim-based company went bankrupt in 2012 and was later bought by a Chinese company called Wanxiang Group. Keeping the automaker's roots in Southern California, Karma Automotive has just released its first model to go on sale, the Revero.

We’re very pleased with the fact that Karma decided to keep the old Karma’s styling for the Revero because the car looks stunning. Sitting next to a Tesla Model S, we’re sure that buyers would gravitate towards the Revero’s exotic face over the now-common Model S. Unfortunately, the Revero costs more than a base Model S, $130,000 to be exact. To entice buyers, the Revero is now built in Moreno Valley, California instead of being imported from Finland. It also comes with a host of upgrades to differentiate it from the Fisker Karma, the first of these being a new and more powerful solar panel on the roof. Alone, the panel has the capacity to recharge both the 12-volt battery as well as the large HV battery that powers the electric motors.

In total, the solar panel adds about 1.5 extra miles of charge after sitting in the sun an entire day in addition to the 50 miles that the Revero can travel on battery power alone (18 more than the Fisker Karma could manage). When that runs out, a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four EcoTec engine from GM sparks to life with 235 horsepower to add 250 miles of range. This brings the total traveling range to 300 and if that isn’t enough, the 21.4 kWh battery back can be plugged into a 40 kW DC quick charger, which will fill it to 80% capacity in just 24 minutes. This effectively allows the two electric drive motors, which send 403 horsepower to the rear wheels via a single speed transmission and a limited-slip differential, to resume operation.

Weighing in at 5,400 pounds, it seems that even 403 ponies of tugging force would have trouble motivating the car, but it can still hit 60 mph from standstill in 5.4 seconds on the way to a 125 mph top speed. That acceleration time is down from 5.9 seconds in the Fisker Karma, and for that we can thank the eye-watering 981 lb-ft of instant torque that the electric motors provide. Of course, that kind of performance is reserved for Sport mode in which both the HV battery and range extender are used for maximum performance. Those seeking clean and quiet operation can leave the Revero in Stealth mode for HV battery use only or place it in Sustain mode to make the generator feed electricity to the motors.

Another area that received a substantial revamp was the infotainment system, which was heavily criticized in the Fisker Karma. Now, it’s faster and capable of over the air updates. Apple CarPlay also comes standard to help keep eyes away from smartphones. On initial impression, it may seem like the Revero is a Model S competitor, and it is in some respects, but Karma still insists that the Revero is different. Karma’s Chief of Revenue Jim Taylor said, “We are building each Revero with the workmanship and attention to detail required for a discerning customer looking for a car without compromise.” It’s the small touches that make the Karma more of a unique vehicle than Tesla’s mass-produced save-the-world-project.

Even the Karma logo is hand-painted onto every Revero, helping to cement the difference. We'll likely see wealthy buyers who want to stand out at the charging station snatch these up. Despite Karma's aspiration to be different, it could learn a lesson or two from Tesla. Its parent company and battery supplier Wanxiang Group should refine its battery technology to give the Revero battery packs that have kWh ratings comparable to a Tesla, 70 kWh for example. That, along with extra electric motors up front to make the Revero all-wheel drive, would lull in extra buyers. Aspiring customers will have to wait until later this month to put in an order, but stay tuned for now because we should have some interesting behind the scenes tidbits about the Revero shortly.

Related Cars

Read Next

SEE MORE ARTICLES