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January 23, 2019

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Good Karma with Ehren Bragg and Tim Shelton.

 

 Photo Curtesy of : https://www.envoytradingllc.com/about 

             

Ehren Bragg, General Manager of Karma sat sipping a well earned bottle of Voss, gazing at the Karma Revero that stood before him almost like a leopard about to pounce. He had just spent the entire day together with his team in the hot California sun displaying the car for shoppers at the Fashion Island Mall in Irvine. As he stood there in the setting sun watching the last remnants of hospitality paraphernalia get packed away, his mind began to drift to his beginnings in the Auto industry and how he had come to join this groundbreaking company. 

            His earliest automotive memory was taking the wheel for the first time while sitting on his father’s lap at age four. By age seven or eight, Ehren’s skills had improved considerably and more important still - he could now reach the pedals. His moment of glory came when his father finally entrusted him with the very senior automotive task of moving the family car down the driveway of his home in New Jersey. Ehren could not have been more proud. He had been bitten by the car bug, forever mesmerized by the “visual impact of cars on the road.”

            Almost immediately after college, he was picked from a pool of fifteen candidates to join Jaguar’s management training program. Starting out as a clerk responsible for ordering cars from the factory and allocating them to dealers, he was being groomed to eventually become district sales manager but advancement would not come without some pain. He would first have to traverse the purgatory that was Jaguar’s Customer Assistance Department in those days. 

            At the time, in the mid 90’s Ford had only recently taken over the company and many of the customers Ehren was dealing with were second owners of cars built under the long shadow of the “Prince Of Darkness” - Lucas Electronics. Many were spending substantial portions of their monthly income on out of warranty repairs and furthermore relied on the dysfunctional messes as their primary mode of transport. According to Ehren, “They were very angry people!” 

            After thirteen months of this baptism of fire, Ehren emerged with nerves of steel and the patience of someone closely related to Mother Theresa. Both skills would serve him well as he moved to Ferrari at the dawn of the new millennium and into the midst of one of Ferrari’s many renaissances. It was into this maelstrom of Modenese glory that Ehren was flung and experiences with both the F550 and F360 on the track left impressions on him that make his eyes light up to this day. 

           But the winds of change would next waft him to the arch nemesis in Sant’Agata Bolognese, home of the “Raging Bull” Lamborghini. After two years as a factory representative responsible for the USA, he turned his back on the world of fast cars and founded two watch businesses – a Renaissance Man if ever there was one. 

It was in 2016 that Ehren finally returned to his first calling, when he became General Manager of Karma of Orange County, thereby joining one of the most innovative automobile companies of the last half-century. The company had only recently been founded when Chinese automotive conglomerate Wangxiang Group Corporation had acquired Fisker’s assets out of bankruptcy to own a majority of the new company. The remaining shares were acquired by a group of former Fisker shareholders. A headquarters was established in Irvine, California with production facilities nearby. Under the direction of a design team with a presence in both China and California, the Fisker Karma concept was redesigned and improved and production started in 2017.

           I would finally get to experience the new Karma Revero for myself with Sales Associate Tim Shelton of Karma Newport Beach in June and it is truly a revelation. From the moment I walked into the showroom I was overwhelmed by the smell of leather emanating from the cars on display - truly extraordinary in an age when even Jaguar interiors are sterile and feel almost like vinyl. Almost the entire interior of the car is sheathed in these hides with Alcantara on the headliner and the cabin exudes craftsmanship and luxury while remaining thoroughly modern. 

           Both drive - train and transmission are engaged via pushbuttons. While turning onto West Coast highway even the sound of the indicators exudes quality. As we accelerate into traffic there is a slight wine synthetically piped into the interior, like something out of the Jetsons. With a combined 300 miles range between gas and electric, any nagging fear the car might have no legs goes out the window. Ehren had mentioned to me he tested the car’s range to the fullest in Yosemite. 

          Once we get rolling it immediately occurs to me how incredibly comfortable the car is even for people over 6ft like myself. The seats are shaped ergonomically and only minor adjustments are needed. The view out of the windscreen screams “Corvette”. The central console screen, while half the size of that of the Tesla, exudes craftsmanship and displays all information pertaining to the car. The menus and icons are intuitive and the system is responsive while the whole screen is surrounded by an almost jewel like crown bezel. Navigation route guidance displays in the instrument binnacle instead of in a heads-up display, an elegant if not groundbreaking solution that some may find less distracting. 

          There are three levels of regenerative – breaking. Level 2 is best suited for town and medium traffic while level 1 is best for highway driving while level 3 is best in heavy traffic or a full on traffic jam. For the truckers among you, think of it as a jake-brake minus the exhaust farts. 

           Furthermore there are three drive modes or power modes. The first is Stealth which is pure electric, then Sustain which uses both the battery and the generator but tries to conserve as much stored battery charge as possible and finally there is Sport which uses both generator and battery to provide maximum torque and power. Both power and regeneration modes are selected via paddle shifters on the steering wheel. The best combination of energy regeneration and power modes is Regeneration 2 and Sport Mode.

           All this combined magic provides a thoroughly respectable zero to sixty acceleration time of 5.4 seconds in sport mode within the range of other luxury sedans. It’s not Ludicrous Mode but then again the interior of a Tesla smells like plastic and your whole street has one. I guess you can’t have everything. 

           I’ve been told the mitigation of NVH achieved by increased insulation around the cabin compared to the old Fisker is dramatic. Only at full throttle acceleration is the generator at all noticeable. The wave of power from the electric motor is almost as exhilaration as the lag/surge of a turbo. 

           The car is not for the potential Tesla fan - boy who wants to virtue signal to all the world that he has seen the light. Instead the Karma Revero is for the real car guy who is bored with his third Bentley in a row and disdains the S-Class for its ubiquity. It is for those who buy cars because they move them emotionally. It is for those who blaze their own trail without regard for risk or what the neighbors think. It is for people like Ehren Bragg or Tim Shelton who see the world through their passions and not through a spec sheet. Put me on the waiting list. 

 

Watch my test drive with Tim Shelton Here:

(To avoid all confusion: Tim is a thorough professional. I'm the one wearing the Steve McQueen Le Mans Jacket.)

 

 

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