Motor Mouth: Karma’s once-promising bright future looks to have arrived

first_imgCreated with Raphaël 2.1.2Created with Raphaël 2.1.2 Karma Revero  Karma ‹ Previous Next › Trending in Canada Motor Mouth: Tesla’s layoffs another sign of impending doom COMMENTSSHARE YOUR THOUGHTS So, as Taylor is surely wondering now that Karma has both its technical and financial houses in order, “what does it take to sell an electric car?” advertisement First Drive: 2019 Jaguar I-PaceEven more important, says Taylor, is that Karma-nee-Fisker’s new benefactors are not overly worried whether Karma sells 300 or 400 units this year. “They only look at the big picture,” says Taylor, “just the opposite of Henrik [Fisker, the original founder of the eponymously-named company]” who had to meet very ambitious sales targets foisted on him by shareholders and the U.S. government.That means Taylor has had time to rectify all the problems Fisker encountered in rushing the original Karma to market. Foremost amongst these was rejigging the battery management system so that when one cell fails — as they so commonly do — it doesn’t shut down the entire car. Even those achingly-gorgeous bodypanels have been reworked, the smaller holes required for the now thinner, more modern wiring harness subduing the engine noise that was a common source of complaint when Henrik was in charge.Put it all together and the new Revero is every bit the Karma was originally meant to be. Range is a very healthy — and fully substantiated by Yours Truly — 80 kilometres, thanks to the onboard 20.4 kWh battery. Handling is far sprightlier than 2,449 kilograms has any right to be, and performance — thanks to 403 horsepower and 981 lb.-ft. of torque — is impressive, if not quite as scintillating as a Tesla Model S.Most importantly, it is an electric car. Even when the turbocharged, 2.0-litre engine sourced from General Motors — with 235 horsepower — is spinning, only the twin rear electric motors drive the Revero. There’s a stealth mode (which runs on battery power alone until it will Lithium-ion no more) Battery-save mode (when the engine kicks in to charge the battery on the highway so you can run in EV mode when you arrive at your destination), and Sport (when the gas engine supplies the electric motors with juice simultaneously with the battery for maxim amperage). But the one common denominator, again, is that only the electric motors drive the wheels. Like I said, an electric car.So, what then does it take to get the Revero to the 15,000 units a year that Henrik Fisker once fantasized? Indeed, how can Karma, if not catch back up with Tesla, at least ride on its coattails? The reliability has been improved, its financial backing is solid and Taylor has been signing up some pretty powerful dealers — including, most recently, Paul Cummings’ Grand Touring Automobiles in Toronto. In other words, Karma’s once promising bright future looks to have finally arrived.But will all these structural changes be enough? Can Karma now make ago of it? Indeed, the even bigger question is whether any carmaker — Jaguar, Porsche and the manifold established marques now jumping into EVs — can sell their new emissions-free wares without the cult-like devotion surrounding Tesla. Certainly, Nissan, General Motors et al haven’t been able to. RELATED TAGSMotor MouthMotor MouthNew Vehicles See More Videos How do we sell electric vehicles? Actually, given the current state of electrified sales in North America, the question might more aptly be stated as, “How do we successfully sell electric vehicles to seemingly still reluctant consumers?”It’s most certainly a question that preoccupies James Taylor. The Ontario native — and McMaster graduate — is the chief revenue officer of Karma Automotive, so electric vehicles, and the selling thereof, are of utmost importance to the former president of Cadillac.Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re struggling with matching the brand to car — you’re sure you know the name but you can’t quite place the face, uhm, grill. Ok, so here’s a clue; Think electric cars burning on a flooded dock in New Jersey. Yes, the Fisker Karma, the sexy extended-range hybrid that so wowed us back in 2011. Well, Taylor’s in charge of its rebirth. No, not that gas-guzzling VLF Destino abomination that stuffed a GM-sourced supercharged V8 into what was once a teetotaling hybrid.Nope, Taylor’s Karma — the brand is now named after the car and the car itself is now called the Revero — is a faithful recapturing, albeit much updated, of the original plug-in, the same captivating four-door coupe styling married to an extended-range electric powertrain, all swaddled in enough glove-soft leather to encourage serious automotive hanky-panky. Now owned by Chinese company Wanxiang, Karma is the rekindling of an idea that once challenged Tesla for the hearts and wallets of wealthy environmentalists. Yes, I know it’s hard to imagine now, but in 2012, when both companies were still in their infancy, there was actually some question over which would prevail.As to whether Karma can succeed where Fisker could not, Taylor points to a team that reads like the crème de la crème of former electric vehicle managers — from Bob Kruse, chief engineer of the similarly extended-range Chevrolet Volt to Dennis Dougherty, former manager of CODA Automotive’s green car production. Throw in a brand-new dedicated plant in California, the hub of all things green and automotive, and you have at least the capacity to build good cars.Most beneficial of all, however, says Taylor is that Wanxiang is China’s largest automotive parts manufacturer — think Magna, says Taylor, but with even more clout. More importantly, it’s a privately owned company with deep pockets. So, even though founder Lu Guanqiu bought all of Fisker’s rights and assets for the relative bargain of US$150 million, Taylor says that its Chinese backers have now invested almost a billion dollars in retooling, re-engineering and the hiring of the aforementioned automotive production experts. Indeed, so committed is Wanxiang to this rebirth that the company’s first step after taking ownership in 2014 was to offer all existing Karma owners a $5,000 repair credit to update their cars to the latest specs.RELATED Buy It! Princess Diana’s humble little 1981 Ford Escort is up for auction An engagement gift from Prince Charles, the car is being sold by a Princess Di “superfan” The Rolls-Royce Boat Tail may be the most expensive new car ever Trending Videos We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles using Facebook commenting Visit our FAQ page for more information. 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