Late last week Bob Lutz told the Automotive News that VL Automotive, his venture to retrofit Fisker Karma’s with Corvette drivetrains, has negotiated a deal with an Asian investor in Fisker to give VL access to the software code that runs the Karma’s integrated infotainment system. ”Without getting those codes, it was close to impossible to get a working car,” Lutz said. He said that VL has now bought 25 brand new unsold Karmas and that the finished product, what Lutz and his partners call the Destino, will be offered with either the 450-hp direct-injected LT1 V8 from the new C7 Corvette or an upgrade to the 638 hp LS9 supercharged V8 from the outgoing C6 ZR1.
The Karma is a serial hybrid, like the Chevy Volt, wherein once the batteries are discharged, a combustion engine spins a generator that powers the electric motor that drives the car. In the Karma that electric motor is mounted at the front of the rear axle, so VL engineers should have plenty of room for the Corvette’s rear transaxle, which connects to the engine via a torque tube.
The finished Destino will cost close to $200,000, about double the MSRP of the Karma when it was on sale. Fisker hasn’t built a Karma in over a year now. Lutz says that the Destino will have a refined driving experience appropriate for a car that expensive. He said that first deliveries are scheduled for the middle of next year.
“It’s going to take time. I don’t want a rough car that’s hard to drive with a bad transmission and high noise levels. At close to $200,000, these things are going to have to be silky and buttery to drive. The sound and feel have to be just right,” Lutz said. The company apparently plans to reveal a second body style when VL will have a display at the upcoming North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January
Lutz “has confidence” that VL has secured a supply of gliders and replacement body panels so production will not be limited to the first batch of 25 cars. VL will also offer people who own regular Fisker Karmas the option of upgrading to V8 power for about $100,000. About 1,800 Karmas were sold by Fisker before production was suspended last year.
Lutz would not comment about whether he or VL participated in the Department of Energy’s auction last week to sell off the loan Fisker received from the DoE’s Advanced Technologies Vehicle Manufacturing loan program. He also declined comment on possibly acquiring other Fisker assets.