By on April 5, 2019

Image: Karma Automotive

With the recent loss of the Chevrolet Volt, the term “range-extended electric vehicle” risks going the way of the passenger pigeon, closing the door on the era in which automakers tried to lure nervous buyers into an *almost* electric car that contained a gasoline engine only for sporadic electricity generation. The Volt had this system, the BMW i3 REx still does (but not in Europe), and the glitzy Fisker Karma popularized the term among the Hollywood elite.

The Karma met a swift end, yet lives on under a slightly altered name, all thanks to Chinese dollars. A new version of the exact same car — the Revero, sold by Karma Automotive — appeared in 2016. The California-based, Wanxiang Group-owned Karma is a low-production automaker, flinging out a few hundred examples of the Revero each year for the tidy sum of $130,000. The current car kept its GM-sourced 2.0-liter four-cylinder generator, which feeds two powerful rear-mounted electric motors. Combined power is 403 horsepower and a stump-pulling 981 lb-ft of torque.

As it prepares to debut a revamped Revero at Auto Shanghai 2019, Karma has detailed some changes to its ultra-lux green car. For starters, GM got the boot in favor of BMW.

Powering the new Revero will be a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder sourced from Bimmer, likely the exact same engine found in the i8. The automaker also added an upgraded lithium-ion battery pack and more powerful electric motors, which should shove the weighty sedan (5,400 lbs!) to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, or nine-tenths of a second quicker than previous.

Detailed specs will have to wait until the Revero reaches the Shanghai spotlight on April 16th, but it’s expected that the upgraded sedan’s all-electric driving range will see some sort of boost. Currently, Karma lists the Revero’s range at “up to 50 miles.” Some styling tweaks are in the cards, as well.

Speaking to Autocar, Karma’s chief revenue officer, Jim Taylor, spoke about the current Revero’s roof-mounted solar panels, which can trickle charge the battery on sunny days. The new car, spied with panels up top, may afford drivers more solar range.

“Our solar panels are twice as powerful as the original [Fisker] ones,” Taylor said. “We’re still a long way off from being able to charge it up significantly in a few hours, but if you left your car parked in an airport car park for a couple of days, you’d see more energy.”

[Image: Karma Automotive]

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11 Comments on “Rebadged Relic Undergoes Revamp, Tosses GM Engine...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The math never works for car-mounted solar panels; they remain an expensive gimmick.

    Much better engine choice, but overall, Fisker is a farce and this car is a unicorn of unicorns.

    • 0 avatar

      Car-mounted solar panels whose output is used to keep the car ventilated and temperated seem a good enough solution to me. Of course, that’s a luxury … but that never seemed to have stopped anyone from implementing something. I mean to remember that such solar-powered in-car climate control is or was even available in the upper echelons of the automotive spectrum.

    • 0 avatar

      Solar panel roofs on cars are fine, as long as you don’t expect much from them. To trickle charge a battery, or run the blower motor are ok ideas. I can’t imagine them ever get to the point that they would be efficient enough to power the vehicle.

  • avatar

    I liked Audi’s idea from a couple years back to use a Wankel (you guys probably call it a rotary) engine as a range extender: small, light, quiet, and when run at its ideal revs not too inefficient either. You could probably fit one, including generator and small fuel tank, in a Tesla’s “frunk” (front trunk). Sadly, nothing seems to have come of that idea.

    • 0 avatar

      It still seems likely Mazda (of course) are planning on executing that

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      The BMW i3 REx has a range extender. But in practice it’s dangerous because it doesn’t have enough power to propel the car in high load situations, and has given drivers bad surprises on mountain passes.

      Personally, I don’t want two engines and two fuel sources in my vehicle, with all the attendant complication and cramped space. I’ll take ICE or BEV, but not both. My hybrid has a tiny battery and motor that help with light loads, but it’s really a gas-powered car.

  • avatar

    These always make me imagine what Studebaker would be doing if they were still making cars today. It feels very Hawk-like.

  • avatar

    I saw few of them on the road (I live in Silicon Valley) and every time they look absolutely stunning out of this world. It is very sad that Fisker failed and his company became Chinese owned. It should be BEV and more attention paid to QA and production process.

  • avatar

    I always thought these were stunning, as in stunning how they blew $529 million of our tax dollars and had nothing to show for it.

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