Ever look at an EV or a dedicated hybrid and wonder what it'd be like with a conventional, high-output V8 under the hood instead of all those batteries and circuit boards? Bob Lutz and Gilbert Villareal did when it came to the Fisker Karma. The result is the Destino from VL Automotive – a vehicle that Lutz says could be the fastest sedan in the world.
Fisker Automotive appears to be wrangling up its proverbial ducks and properly aligning them again after halting production nearly two years ago. After filing for bankruptcy, the Chinese company Wanxiang, like an angel made of money, scooped up the maker of the Karma range-extended electric sports car for the sizeable sum of $149.2 million. Now, Wanxiang is looking to relaunch the Karma by early 2015, and the car that we see upon its revival will likely look quite familiar.
New spy shots make it look like Bob Lutz's idea to convert the Fisker Karma into a fire-breathing sports sedan called the Destino might not be vaporware after all. Two of them were recently spotted testing in Death Valley sporting changes that make them appear closer than ever to actually going on sale.
It's easy to fall in love with the Fisker Karma based on looks alone. Figure in the luxury interior, electric drivetrain, and the convenience of the extended range, and it's hard to fault anyone who took the plunge and plunked down their hard-earned dollars for this swank green machine. Things go wrong, sure, as they do with any vehicle, but when the company goes bankrupt and you can't get the parts to get your car running again, let's just hope you really like the way it looks in your garage.
If you thought early Fisker Karma buyers like celebrities Leonardo DiCaprio and Cee Lo Green had deep pockets, get a load of the company's new owners. China's Wanxiang Group, which earlier this year acquired the extended-range plug-in vehicle maker in a bankruptcy auction, generates more than $23 billion in annual revenue, Automotive News says. Billion with a "b."
Fisker may be down, but it might not stay down forever. The company behind the Karma luxury hybrid shut down late last year and was purchased by Chinese OEM supplier Wanxiang Group, which intends to restart production. It just can't tell us when.
Now this is the kind of fighting spirit we like to see. Lu Guanqiu is a Chinese billionaire who has visited the White House alongside Chinese president Hu Jintao in 2011. He's worth an estimated $3.1 billion. And he wants to take on Tesla Motors and other EV makers with his newly purchased company, Fisker Automotive.
Here's a twist to the Fisker/Destino/MyCar stories we didn't see coming. WM Greentech (WMGTA), the company behind the struggling-but-not-dead-yet MyCar, has merged with VL Automotive, the company that plans to take bodies from the Fisker Karma and repurpose them with a V8 engine. That car will now be part of GTA's new WM Destino brand.
In February, the Chinese company Wanxiang won control of Fisker Automotive at a bankruptcy auction for a final bid of $149.2 million. The sale meant that Wanxiang would now have to deal with all of the creditors claiming that Fisker owed them money. Those individuals and groups had a combined $1 billion in claims, and they're not happy with how the bankruptcy is shaking out. In April, a settlement was announced that would see those unsecured creditors get back pennies on the dollar.
The Orange County Register has an update on Wanxiang's plans for Fisker, and it starts with the idea that you would see brand new Karmas back on the road in mid-2015. From there the goals get less certain, the OCR saying the Surf station wagon "could ship in 2016" and the mid-priced Atlantic "might come in 2017."
As soon as the bankrupt Fisker Automotive started crawling back from the dead, rumors that the new owners would restart production of the Karma plug-in hybrid crawled as well. We've heard that the car would be built in the old General Motors plant the company owns in Delaware, that it would happen in Michigan or that Valmet would get going again in Finland. Nothing official has yet been announced, but Delaware Online is now saying that it's even money that Delaware to play a role in Fisker's phy
Perhaps Wanxiang is serious about finally, actually re-starting plug-in hybird Fisker production. One of the first big official steps that The New Fisker has taken, other than putting up a new website, is to buy that old disparaged General Motors plant new Newport, DE for $18 million.
We'll admit it, this is a strange little story. California Gurls singer Katy Perry was apparently so smitten by the California automaker Fisker that she bought five of the company's plug-in hybrid Karma for members of her staff. Reports say that she spent $500,000 dollars on the cars.
It may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the approximately $1 billion in liabilities bankrupt automaker Fisker Automotive has against it, but every bit helps. In this case, it's a smidgeon less than $5 billion. That's how much the maker of the Karma extended-range plug-in is getting approved to borrow from its presumed future owner, Wanxiang Group. It's a start.
If there's any question where Wanxiang hopes to take the remains of Fisker Automotive, just take a look at The New Fisker, a fresh official website for the bankrupt automaker. While the text available there hedges about just when and how the company will restart production, it is clear from the pictures that the company is ready to make the Atlantic PHEV concept a reality. The site even says, "Hello Future. Meet the Atlantic."
You may have scoffed when the US Department of Energy sold the rights to its $168 million outstanding Fisker Automotive loan to Hybrid Tech Holdings last December for just $25 million, or about 15 cents on the dollar. It turns out that might be the going rate for anyone with claims against the bankrupt extended-range plug-in maker, though. That's because Fisker, which declared bankruptcy in November, has generated $985.4 million in claims from 618 not-so-happy parties, Delaware Online says, citi
Fisker Automotive has been sold, ladies and gentlemen. According to Automotive News, Wanxiang from China won the company after a few tense days of bidding between it and Hybrid Tech Holdings from Hong Kong. The winning bid came in at $149.2 million, which, rather interestingly, is almost six times the amount Fisker itself sought to recover from bankruptcy.
The remains of Fisker Automotive - which might not even include the name and logo - are supposed to finally be sold off tomorrow, but the scene before the auction is anything but clear. As as reminder, the two bidding parties are Wanxiang and Hybrid Tech Holdings. Hybrid Tech was denied an emergency motion in court last week that would have lifted an earlier ruling that limited how much debt it can use to try and buy Fisker. The limit remains at $25 million.
VL Automotive is closely tied up with Fisker. The company's first product, the Destino, is a converted Karma and the Destino Red Concept, just unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show, is the same hardtop Karma convertible that Fisker showed in 2009. So, what a surprise it was to see that Bob Lutz, who owns half of VL Automotive, is ready to convert a brand new electric vehicle: the Tesla Model S. A gas-powered Tesla? Say what?