Karma-based Destino still coming despite Fisker troubles

Article by Christian Andrei, on May 8, 2013

Fisker, the struggling plug-in hybrid automaker, may not have entered any productive deals with investors but this doesn’t mean that a Destino sedan has been taken off the table. Fisker has had to lay off about 75% of its employees. It has also hired lawyers to guide it in the event that it will go through bankruptcy proceedings.

VL Automotive, which is led by Bob Lutz, will continue with its plans to produce the Destino sedan, which is basically a Karma with a powerful General Motors V8 instead of the standard hybrid powertrain. Lutz told Wards Auto that VL Automotive has acquired 20 Karma “gliders” – units that don’t have batteries or hybrid parts. Fisker is also seeking to buy complete Karma sedans from dealers who want to get rid of their inventories before Fisker becomes bankrupt.

So far, VL Automotive has received 100 Destino orders. Many of these customers are from the Middle East. There have also been hundreds of Karma owners who have gotten in touch with VL Automotive and want to get their sedans converted to traditional V8 muscle.

Lutz said that it’s likely this conversion will be priced at $85,000 to $90,000. Lutz also said that they will use an engine that’s a bit different than what was initially planned. The Destino was supposed to be powered by a 638-horsepower supercharged 6.2L V8 taken from the Corvette ZR1 but VL Automotive was unable to find a suitable automatic transmission to pair with the engine.

That’s why it will now use Cadillac CTS-V’s 556-horsepower version of the 6.2L, which can be effortlessly mated to a GM-sourced six-speed auto. Lutz explained that the company realizes that many customers want to use automatics in these cars and there wasn’t a fitting six-speed for the ZR1 (Corvette) engine.

VL Automotive will also offer a 450-horsepower LT1 V8. It’s possible that even when Fisker ceases to exist, Destino production may continue via arrangements by VL Automotive for Fisker’s suppliers to continue building the Karma chassis. Notably, Fisker didn’t build the Karma. Rather, it is the product of Valmet Automotive, a vehicle manufacturer based in Finland.

Topics: fisker, fisker karma

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