In the beginning was the Fisker Karma.
Then came battery cell failures, bankruptcy, a Chinese company, a departing designer, a swaggering auto exec, a big honkin’ V-8 engine, and two new companies.
The result: a pair of cars that look close to identical, but have radically different powertrains—one somewhat green, the other unabashedly based on burning lots and lots of hydrocarbon fuels.
DON’T MISS: 2017 Karma Revero: first official photo of rebooted Fisker Karma released
The first is the Karma Revero, which will employ a version of the plug-in hybrid powertrain from the original Fisker Karma.
The other is the VLF Destino. The brainchild of former General Motors product czar Bob Lutz, it uses the same body but with a supercharged V-8 in place of the original plug-in powertrain.
How did we get here?
About 2,000 Fisker Karma sedans were produced under contract by Valmet Automotive in Finland before the company declared bankruptcy in 2013.
Shortly before that, what was then known as VL Automotive unveiled the Destino at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show.
However, production finally began earlier this year at the company’s facility in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
ALSO SEE: VLF Destino (Fisker Karma with V-8, sans electric parts) starts deliveries
Around the same time, the company made a notable addition to its executive contingent.
That would be Henrik Fisker, the Karma’s designer, and cofounder of Fisker Automotive. Fisker left his namesake company in March 2013, shortly before it declared bankruptcy.
Fisker’s addition necessitated the change from “VL” to “VLF,” as each letter represents the name of one of the main partners.
From left to right: Gilbert Villarreal, Bob Lutz, Henrik Fisker
The “V” is industrialist Gilbert Villarreal, while Lutz and Fisker are the “L” and “F,” respectively.
The Destino’s engine is a 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 from the now-discontinued Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1.
It produces 638 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque, and is available with an automatic transmission only.
MORE: Fisker Karma With V-8 Emerges As VLF Destino, Including Henrik Himself
That will get the Destino from 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, and on to a top speed of 200 mph, VLF claims.
Part of that performance comes from removing almost 1,000 pounds of weight, representing the lithium-ion battery pack and twin rear electric motors of the original Fisker Karma.
Separately, VLF also plans to market the Dodge Viper-based Force One sports car, which was designed by Henrik Fisker before he joined the company.
Karma Revero assembly at Karma Automotive factory, Moreno Valley, California, July 2016
While Fisker the man is now allied with VLF, the remains of Fisker the car company are now controlled by Chinese auto-parts giant Wanxiang.
It bought the remains of Fisker Automotive after the carmaker’s 2013 bankruptcy, with the intent of restarting production of the former Fisker Karma.
CHECK OUT: A123 Says Start-Stop Batteries A Better Business Than Electric Cars (Apr 2015)
The new company is named Karma Automotive, while the car itself is called the Revero.
Karma recently released teaser photos of the Revero—with virtually unchanged styling—but no technical information.
Wanxiang also owns former Fisker battery supplier A123 Systems, but that company has indicated it is no longer interested in the U.S. electric-car market.
Production of the Revero will take place at a new factory in Moreno Valley, California. The company also owns a former GM plant in Delaware that will apparently remain unused.
Karma has already reached out to existing owners of the 2012 Fisker Karmas about reserving new Reveros before reservations open to the general public September 8.
When the Revero reaches retail buyers, we will witness something that is likely unprecedented in recent memory: two cars on sale at the same time, using the same body, from two different companies, with two radically different powertrains.
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