Karma Automotive has unveiled the Revero, a hybrid car with a solar panel roof. Its looks strongly resemble that of the Fisker Karma that had been designed by Henrik Fisker, and that’s not a coincidence. Everybody had liked the sleek looks of the Fisker Karma; it was its unreliability that had been the problem. Even worse, its engine sometimes caught fire, leading to a recall in December 2011.
Downfall of Fisker Automotive
Fisker Automotive had been a luxury automobile company established in 2007 by the Danish-born Henrik Fisker. Its claim to fame was its high-end hybrid cars. During its brief history, the company was plagued by both legal and engineering problems, and it went bankrupt in late 2013. A few months later, the Chinese autoparts company Wanxiang Group bought Fisker Automotive’s assets and renamed the company Karma Automotive.
Wanxiang Group wanted to make an electric car of their own, and they decided to use Fisker Automotive’s parts to do so. The engineering team, which was based in Moreno Valley, California, spent 27 months studying the Fisker Karma and fixing its flaws. They talked to former owners and got their feedback. They took apart several cars and labeled every problem they found. They drove three of the cars for up to 100,000 miles each and again noted anything that went wrong.
Overhauling the Karma
The Fisker Karma had had a solar roof, but it only powered the air conditioning. The Revero’s rooftop solar panels will supposedly supply power to the main battery and thereby help power the whole car. On a very sunny day, the roof can produce 200 watts of electricity an hour. Karma Automotive claims that the Revero will be the first car with a solar powered roof that will be available in the US.
The engineering team took advantage of five years of technological advances. They overhauled the drivetrain and installed solar panels that are twice as powerful as those in the Fisker Karma. The company has not yet said how long it would take the solar roof to fully power the car. They did say that the car’s infotainment system would include a component that would enable the drive to see how much solar energy the roof panels were collecting.
The engineers replaced the overly-combustible engine from the Fisker Karma with a much safer engine made by General Motors. It’s a four-cylinder, turbocharged engine that can double as a generator when the car runs low on power. GM, unfortunately, is not making that particular engine anymore, so Karma Automotive will eventually either need to find a new supplier or make the engine itself.
The Karma Revero
The Karma Revero could almost be described as a triple hybrid. As innovative as the solar roof is, it will only supply enough power to propel the car 1.5 miles before needing to sit in the sun for a so-far unspecified amount of time. Despite the hype, the solar roof is more of a “good start” than anything else.
The Revero is an electric hybrid with range extension, which means it is fueled by electricity and gasoline.
Karma Automotive will be manufacturing the cars in the United States rather than Finland. They are currently using a factory in Moreno Valley and have recently bought 262,000 square feet of space in Irvine, California that used to belong to Kawasaki Motorcycles. The Irvine facility will one day be the company’s headquarters.
The Karma Revero will make its official debut on September 8. People can begin reserving cars on the same date. It is expected to sell for at least $100,000.
About the Author
David Moss is a Detroit based automotive writer. When he is not writing about the latest auto technology, he spends his time hiking. You can follow him via Twitter @davidcmoss