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New Fiskers will have V-8s or batteries, Wanxiang says

Chinese auto parts supplier Wanxiang plans to offer repurposed Fisker Karma's with V-8 engines capable of bringing the car to 200 mph.

VL Destino Convertible
VL Destino Convertible at the Detroit auto show
Green Car Reports
VL Destino Convertible
VL Destino Convertible at the Detroit auto show Green Car Reports

Green Car Reports
Green Car Reports

If lithium-ion batteries are "the heart of Fisker," according to new owner Wanxiang, then what does it say is "the soul of Fisker"?

That would be the VL Destino, a version of the Fisker Karma range-extended electric luxury sedan with no batteries, electric motors, or plugs at all.

The Destino is powered instead by a supercharged V-8 engine from a Chevrolet Corvette, which takes it to a projected top speed of 200 mph.

And Wanxiang, China's largest auto-parts supplier, plans to build and sell both versions now that its purchase of Fisker was approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Tuesday.

Its plans were revealed in court documents and a presentation by Wanxiang to Fisker creditors, according to Reuters.

Production will resume "in the coming months"--but as soon as possible, according to Wanxiang America president Pin Ni--from remaining inventory at the Finland assembly plant used by subcontractor Valmet.

Then it appears Wanxiang will move Fisker production to a plant in Auburn Hills, Michigan, now owned by a small, private company called VL Automotive.

That's the one that announced at the 2013 Detroit auto show that it would offer Fisker Karmas -- stripped of their batteries, electric motors, solar roofs, and other Karma features -- powered by a choice of two Corvette engines.

The resulting high-performance luxury sedan, the VL Destino, would offer LT1 or LS9 versions of the Chevy V-8 engine.

Those produce 460 or 638 horsepower respectively, and would be paired with either a four-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed manual gearbox.

Former GM product czar Bob Lutz has invested in VL, and he speaks often on its behalf, drawing outsized attention to the project.

But unlike the bankrupt previous iteration of Fisker Automotive, it plans only on low volumes of its flagship car.

Over the first 18 months after production resumes, according to its presentation, it expects sales of only 1,000 Karma range-extended electric and Destino V-8 cars. Another 500 Karmas are targeted for sale in Europe.

Because Wanxiang also owns A123 Systems, the lithium-ion cell supplier for the Karma, it won't have the difficulties with battery supply that helped bring down Fisker in the first place.

There's much more yet to be learned about Wanxiang's plans, but it seems likely that the Fisker Karma will return to production.

And now, buyers can have a V-8 with that.

Source: John Voelcker for Green Car Reports