by Douglas Black, enerficiency On The Road, February 9, 2013
Fisker Automotive Inc, the start from scratch eco/friendly sportscar- -luxury-cause-Hollywood-says-so manufacturer of one model may still have a few gasps of life left. And perhaps Henrick Fisker, designer, executive chairman and cofounder, may have designed some magical money as well.
Part of the privilege of attending the Social Media Preview at the Chicago Auto Show is that I get an invite to a Chicago Economic Development lunch with a heavy hitter speaker.
Speaking before our very large lunch crowd on Thursday Henrick Fisker was long on storytelling and short on details. The Scandanavian company has taken American shot-in-the-arm monies with promise of jobs in Connecticut, with very little in the results column. There are many details he could have offered.
For one, the company has been in virtual hibernation for nearly a year, so when can we expect wheels turning? There is talk of the Chinese government buying a substantial position in the company, true? If not, who, if any, are the VC’s still interested?
When asked point blank about the Chinese investor scenario, Fisker simply refused to make any comment whatsoever. What Henrick did present was a well crafted TV commercial and another “pulled myself up by my own bootstraps” story.
Perhaps the point of storytime was to show a never say die attitude. If that was the case, it fell on deaf ears as many slipped away from their chocolate and berry dessert plates to get back to their battery chargers and email inboxes.
Henrick did share a bit or two it turns out. Reuters reported later that Fisker, who is indeed seeking investors and partners to cut costs, hopes to launch its business in China in May. Maybe Henrick pulls up his sleeves and conjures up some Chinese good fortune, but it can be cold this time of year in China I hear.
The new timeline is later than the first-quarter launch that Fisker outlined late last year. The automaker, which makes the Karma plug-in hybrid sports car, is also in the midst of looking for new funding to build a second model, the Atlantic.
In the mean time, Auto auto industry kingpin and former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz took his new ‘dog and pony’ show to last month’s NAIAS (Detroit Auto Show). Luyz’s new venture, called VL Automonive, set up for display in an entry corridor off of the main lobby at COBO Center Lutz displayed his prototype Destino.
The $180,000 offering of startup VL Automotive utilizes the Fisker Karma body and chassis as a starting platform, then replaces the electric hybrid powerplant with some old fashioned Detroit horsepower- a Corvette ZR1 engine plant.
Our friends at Gizmag got a chance to see the vehicle and they report
The Destino is still undergoing prototype testing, so VL hasn’t listed any performance numbers just yet. Lutz said that the car will weigh around 3,800 pounds (1,724 kg). Compare that to the 3,333-lb (1,512-kg) Corvette ZR1, which hits 60 mph (96.5 km/h) in 3.4 seconds on its way to a 205 mph (330 km/h) top speed, and the 5,300-lb (2,404-kg) Fisker Karma and its 6.3-second 0-60 time, and you can get a feel for how the car will perform. Lutz also expressed confidence that the Destino will be faster than other performance four-doors, namely the Aston Martin Rapide and Porsche Panamera. With 650-hp on tap, it certainly should be.
VL has made a deal with Fisker to purchase full vehicles minus all the plug-in powertrain hardware. It plans to produce between 250 and 500 Destino models a year in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The first two prototypes that were displayed in Detroit have already been sold, and an official market launch is tentatively planned for June. Final pricing has yet to be set, but VL is quoting a US$180,000 figure.
We hoped to ask Bob about this venture, as well as the all-important “How do you like your fighter jets, Mr. Lutz?” I heard Bob talk about them on Leno once, and yes Jay was jealous of those toys.the VL has taken the Fisker Karma, pulled out the plug-in hybrid powertrain and replaced it with a 638-hp, 6.2-liter supercharged LS9 V8 engine from the Corvette ZR1.
Also according to Gizmag, in order to properly distinguish the car, VL has redesigned the front fascia and headlamps, roof and rear fascia. It also plans to re-tune the suspension and chassis to function smoothly with the new powertrain and lighter build. It hasn’t talked much about the transmission, but plans are for an automatic at launch with a manual option to follow.
But Bob Lutz and his VL Automotive startup, which Jack describes as America’s smallest, newest and most expensive car company had no presence which I am aware of at the Chicago Auto Show.
Let’s hope something happens soon, other than the Fisker Karma looking good at car shows and keeping waxers and polishers busy.
Bob discusses the Destino recently in Detroit.
Pulling a trick out of his hat might be Henrick’s best magic act so far.
About Douglas Black
Douglas Black is a photojournalist and
green technologies analyst out of Chicago,
and is currently Managing Producer for
Earlier Douglas promoted greentech in Detroit as
Senior Marketing Strategist and Architect.
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