VL Automotive is going ahead with plans to transform hybrid-powered Fisker Karmas into a V-8-powered vehicle. Former General Motors' vice chairman Bob Lutz, the man behind VL, has told Automotive News that the company has acquired 25 unsold Karmas and has settled a dispute with an Asian investor that barred VL from accessing the codes operating the Karma's infotainment system.
He remarked that it was “close to impossible to get a working car” without the codes. The converted Karma, which will be called the Destino, dons a more conservative grille and some minor aesthetic changes. While the Karma was powered by the Chevrolet Volt-like gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain, the Destino will have the same engine and transmission fitted in the Chevrolet Corvette. VL will release two versions: a base 450-hp direct-injected V-8 and an optional 638-hp supercharged V-8.
According to Lutz, VL engineers were challenged to develop a refined driving experience suited to a $200,000 luxury performance sedan. He remarked that VL is on pace to commence delivering cars by mid-2014.
He told Automotive News that developing the final Destino will take time and that he does not want “a rough car that's hard to drive with a bad transmission and high noise levels.” He said that around $200,000 Destinos are going to be “silky and buttery to drive,” adding that the “sound and feel have to be just right.”
VL is planning to take part again at the Detroit auto show in January 2014 with the sedan and one other body style, Lutz said. He also expressed confidence that VL has secured a source of body panels and gliders -- cars assembled without the drivetrain – in order for the output to continue after the initial batch of 25 cars are sold. VL is also planning to offer current Karma owners the option to convert their cars to Corvette power for about $100,000, given that their units are in pristine condition.