The VL Automotive Destino is essentially Henrik Fisker's range-extended electric car, with all the expensive drivetrain components removed and replaced with Chevrolet's LS9 V-8 engine. That's the same supercharged unit you'll find in the Corvette ZR1 supercar.
If you think that sounds strange, then it gets better--one of the men behind the Destino is none other than "father of the Volt" and Via Motors figurehead, Bob Lutz.
Proving Lutz still has gasoline coursing through his veins, despite pushing for greener vehicles like the Volt and the Via electric trucks, the Destino is designed "to provide true motoring enthusiasts with an exquisite work of automotive art that performs at a world-class level. Attention to detail is a paramount concern, as is reliability and ease of maintenance."
With Fisker's recent problems, including cooling issues leading to fires (the recall for which indirectly led to even greater damage...), perhaps there's method behind the apparent madness of swapping the range-extended Karma powertrain with a simpler, tried-and-tested engine like the LS9.
Destinos will come with either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. Lutz says the car is "an American designed, engineered and manufactured four-door performance car that rivals such models as the Porche Panamera and Aston-Martin-Lagonda Rapide."
On the outside, the Destino differs little from the Karma on which it's based--though the front facia takes on a more subtle appearance, losing Fisker's distinctive mustache grille. Arguably, it's all the more attractive without it.
The Destino is a collaborative project between Lutz and industrialist Gilbert Villereal, and made its debut today at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. It will be built in Auburn Hills, Michigan--not far from where Lutz's former colleague at GM and now Fisker CEO, Tony Posawatz, is setting up a Fisker technology center.
We asked Fisker for a comment on the modified Karma, and this is what Senior Director of Global Communications and PR, Roger Ormisher, told us:
"Fisker believes that it speaks to the appeal of the Karma and its stunning, award-winning design that coachbuilders are wanting to take our cars and modify and customize them. We join many famous brands in automotive history that have been the subject of customization and modification."
He added that the project isn't a joint partnership nor a strategic alliance, though VL Automotive has ordered 20 Karmas, less their powertrains and lithium batteries, for conversion.
The Destino is scheduled for retail sales in the second half of 2013--and is available on a first come, first served basis.
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