Richard Li Tzar-Kai

Fisker to transform hybrid Karma into petrol-guzzling V8

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 February, 2014, 11:53am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 February, 2014, 12:23am

Fisker Automotive's Karma sports car, once a status symbol for A-list environmentalists in the United States, will come roaring back, powered by a supercharged V8, according to plans revealed by its new owner.

The US unit of Chinese firm Wanxiang received approval on Tuesday to acquire Fisker's assets for US$149.2 million.

Plans to revive the Karma as a traditional petrol-guzzling sports car were revealed in US Bankruptcy Court documents and by a person briefed on them.

Fisker, founded in 2007, sought to plant its flag as the first manufacturer to put a hybrid engine in a sports car with an eye-catching design.

But after technological glitches and management missteps, Fisker ceased production in 2012.

Former General Motors executive Bob Lutz, a high-profile critic of Fisker's environmental approach, will get a chance to prove his contention that luxury car owners want firepower under the hood more than a reduced carbon footprint.

Wanxiang plans to team up with Lutz and his partner Gilbert Villarreal, who have established VL Automotive.

In a presentation to creditors, Wanxiang called VL the "soul of Fisker" and praised the company for building the "first true American luxury grand touring sedan in decades, the VL Destino".

The Destino takes a Karma body and combines its external beauty with the internal brawn of a Corvette ZR-1 drive train, to produce a car that can hit 320km/h.

Wanxiang insisted it will not totally abandon Fisker's green-car roots. In its presentation to creditors, Wanxiang said it plans to build hybrid Karmas along with Destinos and will continue to develop next-generation cars combining battery power with a petrol engine.