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.
Will the rubber really hit the road for GreenTech Automotive (GTA) this year? The company said "yes" last week after announcing that it finished building its factory in Tunica, MS. With that done, the company's low-speed neighborhood-electric vehicles (NEV) will start production by the end of 2014. In the meantime, the company is shipping its stuff over from a temporary factory in Horn Lake, MS, about 30 miles away.
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.
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.
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?
VL Automotive, the company that sought to fit Fisker Karmas with the LS9 V8 from the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 at last year's Detroit Auto Show, is back in 2014 with a new wild idea: a V8-powered Fisker Karma convertible. Those with long memories will recall that Fisker itself showed a hardtop Karma convertible in 2009, but the VL Destino variant does feature some slight differences.
Last year around this time, we were prepping to see the first iteration of the VL Destino; a Fisker Karma with a Corvette ZR1 heart transplant. Now, with the 2014 Detroit Auto Show looming just over the horizon, there are fresh hints that the Destino is due for a sequel.
A luxury performance sedan needs to have a lot of boxes checked off in order to stand out in a field of cookie-cutter four-doors. And the Fisker Karma checked off nearly all of them, with two notable exceptions: one was that gap-toothed grin, and the other was its hybrid powertrain. Fortunately, VL Automotive claims to have the answer to both.
Chinese company Wanxiang was in the news earlier this year, as it moved to acquire bankrupt automotive battery company A123. Turns out, while that was taking place in the public eye, Wanxiang was also working with VL Automotive – of Bob Lutz and Destino fame – to try and buy out Fisker Automotive.
Bob Lutz has had grandiose performance luxury car dreams before – Cunningham C7, anyone? – but the VL Automotive Destino that was just unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show was certainly a surprise, even to long-time Lutz-watchers. As a reminder, the Destino is a Fisker Karma with a 638-horsepower supercharged LS9 V8 transplanted from a Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. Plug? Gone. High-tech lithium-ion battery? Sold back to Fisker.
There's nothing wrong with the Fisker Karma that a honkin' American V8 engine won't fix. At least according to Bob Lutz, it seems. Called the VL Automotive Destino, this machine is the brainchild of industrialist Gilbert Villereal and the aforementioned Lutz, and is intended to compete with such well-regarded performance sedans as the Porsche Panamera and Aston Martin Rapide.