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.
For Fisker Automotive, it is important to recognize that the automotive industry is one that makes use of a lot of resources and energy. This includes the initial development of a car, the process of building one, marketing it, and all the way to the disposal. Fisker however has the advantage of being a new company and can start from scratch.
This means that it has a good chance of improving the typical methods utilized while reimagining how the world should view automakers. As such, the company made sure that its first car would be manufactured based on its very own Sustainable and Accountable Design principle. Indeed, the Karma is an excellent example of a big leap forward not only for Fisker but for the whole automotive industry. In creating the Karma, the company looked for ways to lower the carbon footprint and with it the impact to the environment. Fisker also wanted to increase the efficiency.
The company did this not just on one aspect but on the whole value chain. With this, Fisker hopes to be established as the automaker that is truly dedicated as it relates to accountability and sustainability. The Karma, as well as other models of the company that will be released in the future, will be both sold and serviced under a network composed of reputable, established, and independent retailers around the world.
In the U.S. alone, 45 locations have already been pinpointed. Fisker said that the same number is likely expected for the European market. While the retail network for Europe is currently under development, importers that manage it have been identified. In Switzerland for example, there is Zurch-based Emil Frey Group. And then there’s Nelleman, based in Copenhagen Denmark. The company will also have a presence in Italy through Fisker Italia, headquartered in Merano, Italy. Finally, BD Otomotive of Istanbul, Turkey completes the list so far. For the China market, Fisker signed a non-exclusive distribution agreement with Shanghai-based China Grand Automotive. Said agreement was concluded in December 2010.