Karma, Hella & Advances in Tech
(Image: Karma Automotive)
Bob Kruse has been in the auto industry for a non-trivial amount of time and in that time he had the opportunity to head the team that developed one of the most important vehicles in General Motors’ history, the Chevrolet Volt. The Volt demonstrated that using an internal combustion engine as a generator that could charge batteries, the output of which would then be used to power the wheels, was a highly effective way to have a car that provided range without anxiety.
Adventures in electrical architecture. Kruse has been deeply involved in batteries and powering vehicles with electricity since, and today serves as the Chief Technology Officer of Karma Automotive, a California-based developer and producer of premium luxury cars. Yes, they develop and build cars. Like the Revero GT, a low, sleek vehicle that is powered by a 536-hp electric gearbox located on the rear axle. There is a 28-kWh NMC battery package as well as a 1.5-liter BMW three-cylinder engine that operates as a generator (an architecture not unlike that of the Volt).
(Image: Karma Automotive)
Artisanal manufacturing. They’re not producing a whole lot of cars in the Moreno Valley factory. Kruse says that they’ll be making about 500 this year. He also explains that they’re not interested in a volume play. It is worth noting that the aluminum-skinned vehicles are in the $150,000 vicinity (plus or minus).
Radio, radio. On this edition of “Autoline After Hours,” with Autoline’s John McElroy, Richard Truett of Automotive News and me, Kruse talks about the development of the Revero, which goes far beyond what one might imagine that a small car company would be involved with—as in they developed their own audio system for the vehicle because, Kruse explains, being small they’d likely not get the appropriate attention from a top-tier audio supplier (“You want how many?”), yet that’s something that is important to have in a vehicle of this stature.
And while Karma will be producing an all-electric vehicle platform within the next couple years, Kruse points out that the approach taken with the Revero allows things like going from LA to Las Vegas without a stop along the way for a recharge.
Vehicular signature. Steve Lietaert, President, Hella Corporate Center. Lietaert’s organization is deeply involved in providing the industry with what has become, in many ways, the signature element for vehicles: the headlamps, taillamps and interior lighting solutions.
Hella Matrix LED headlamps feature a glare-free high beam, deployed here in an Audi A8. (Image: Hella)
The right light. As Lietaert explains, they are driving forward lighting technology, having replaced the traditional bulb with LED arrays. This approach to solid-state lighting is providing a multitude of options when it comes to illumination, including the ability to selectively control the pixels—at the Frankfurt Motor Show Hella introduced its Solid State Lighting | High Definition (SSL | HD) that has 15,000 LED pixels that can be individually controlled. This means that it is possible to mask out some areas and illuminate others, depending on the conditions (e.g., drivers of on-coming vehicles won’t have light shining in their eyes while a pedestrian who is walking along the side of the road is illuminated for purposes of safety).
The show is a full-on discussion of contemporary developments in the industry, and you can see it all here.
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