VL Automotive acquiring Fisker Karmas to create Destino sports cars

Article by Anita Panait, on January 28, 2014

VL Automotive is planning to transform Fisker Karma plug-in hybrids into traditional sports cars, retrofitting them by removing their hybrid powertrains and installing Chevrolet Corvette V-8 engines and altered bodies. To achieve this, VL first needs to acquire Karmas they could work on. This could prove as a real challenge considering that Fisker Automotive stopped producing them in 2012.

One of the VL’s founders, Gilbert Villareal, said that they have already acquired 25 Karmas. VL has been purchasing Fisker off dealerships and paying them commissions for the sales. One dealer who visited VL's booth at the 2014 the Detroit auto show agreed to sell nine cars, Villarreal says. VL is expecting to retail each retrofitted Karma -- renamed the Destino -- for around $195,000, depending on options.

Destino will be powered by General Motor’s supercharged LS9 V-8 engine, which provides up to 638 hp, paired to a six-speed automatic transmission.

VL is awaiting regulatory approval to sell the Destino in the United States. Villarreal remarked that VL has potential buyers abroad overseas who have said they want to purchase a Destino.

He said there are estimated 300 new Karmas still unsold in dealer lots, in addition to 1,800 cars sold. "We're finding a huge interest among owners in having their cars converted to our V-8 engine,” Villareal said, adding they could convert around 1,000 of those vehicles. VL is also backed by Bob Lutz, GM’s retired product chief.

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