The Karma Revero is on course to arrive in Britain in late 2018, according to the company's chief revenue officer, Jim Taylor.
Speaking exclusively to Autocar, Taylor explained that the hybrid sports car was undergoing late development testing ahead of its full reveal in the US next month. It would then take more than 12 months for the business to evolve to a point where entering European and Asian markets was viable.
The hybrid-electric model is essentially a successor to the Karma of now defunct car maker Fisker, and it builds on that car’s overall design with a largely unchanged exterior. The fitment of new solar panels on the Revero’s roof is a significantly upgraded feature, however, and one that Taylor confirmed can power the four-door model’s electrified drivetrain.
"The energy collected from the solar panels is supplied directly to the car's high-voltage battery, which in turn powers the electric motors," explained Taylor. "Our solar panels are twice as powerful as the original ones."
While no charge time has been revealed, Taylor suggested that the strong Californian sunshine would enable owners to leave their car parked outside all day and return to it with more charge. "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," added Taylor.
The input of the sun's energy will be displayed on the Revero's infotainment system, so drivers can see when energy is being captured, even when on the move.
This is a previously unseen feature on a production vehicle. Most other solar panel-equipped models, such as the Nissan Leaf (which offers it as an option), use the sun’s energy to power in-car accessories.
The Revero will use an updated version of the old Karma's drivetrain and battery system, with new parts supplied by BMW.
The original Fisker Karma was built around an aluminium spaceframe and featured a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and two electric motors. The plug-in hybrid system could offer more than 30 miles of pure-electric range.
Taylor refrained from revealing what range could be expected with the new car, but hinted that both that and straight-line performance are being improved.
"The improvements are in the electrical areas, in software reliability and battery chemistry," he said. "The mechanical parts and suspension are pretty much unchanged."
Inside, the Revero will use a new infotainment system that "represents a departure from the norm", suggesting it'll be a defining feature of the car.
As a hybrid model the Karma Revero will straddle the lines between all-electric rival the Tesla Model S, and more conventional alternatives, such as the Porsche Panamera. Porsche's future Mission E production model could also be an eventual rival.
Karma will fully reveal its new Revero next month on the 8 September and will start taking orders later this year. Cars will be built at the firm’s California factory, with production limited to around 1000 units in the first year.
The newly formed Karma Automotive has been built upon the remains of Fisker Automotive, which closed for business in 2013 because of a lack of funding. With new Chinese owners Wanxiang Group providing a stronger financial backing to the renamed Karma, insiders are anticipating a more productive future for the American company.