Karma Revero 2018: Back to the Future of Electric Automobiles

The car Karma Automotive now builds is the Revero.

Besides the stunning design, ultra-luxe boutique price tag, and ownership experience, what makes the Revero different? For one thing, it’s one of only two series-hybrid vehicles available that are effectively electric vehicles that also have range-extending internal combustion engines.

It is “filled” with both gasoline (only 9.5 gallons) and electricity, but it uses its gasoline solely to generate electricity, supplying juice to a battery pack and/or to power electric motors that in turn move the vehicle—just like a diesel locomotive.

Under the Revero’s impossibly long, low hood lies a GM-sourced 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine (a repurposed Pontiac Solstice GXP unit) that produces a maximum 235 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The batteries’ capacity is 21.4 kilowatt-hours, of which 18.9 kW-hrs are usable. (For the sake of comparison, the Chevrolet Volt’s battery capacity is 18.4 kW-hrs). At the rear of the car are two AC permanent magnet synchronous traction motors that provide a combined 403 horsepower and a whopping 981 lb-ft of torque for propulsion.

There are three drive modes to choose from: Stealth (pure EV), Sustain (gasoline generator or “EV later” mode), and Sport (EV plus generator, or “gimme all you got”). The reason for being able to select modes is simple. Say you live in the city centre that has strict rules concerning or exorbitant taxes on running internal combustion engines. You’d use your Stealth mode in town then it could switch to Sustain outside of town to maintain your batteries’ state of charge before returning to the city where you would switch back to Stealth. Without ever using gasoline.

As with all EVs, the Karma Revero is eerily quiet in Stealth mode. They did an excellent job with a sound barrier between the cabin and firewall so that even with the generator running, it remains a distant, somewhat discordant hum. Wind noise is extremely well managed with aerodynamics and a reasonably slippery 0.313 coefficient of drag. Even the massive 22-inch tires barely make a sound.