Only a few years after Henrik Fisker left his namesake car company, Fisker was back designing something new: The Force 1 V10.
Originally started with former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, and industrialist Gilbert Villarreal, Fisker joined the VLF Automotive team and the trio set out to make the kind of rare, luxury vehicle with the right amount of rev.
“Ian [Callum] and I felt that the Fisker Karma was one of the most, perhaps the most, beautiful sedan we’d ever seen. But every owner we’d talk to, said ‘Yeah, it’s beautiful, but I wish it had a big V8 engine and a conventional drivetrain,’” says Lutz. “So we set out to do that, it took us a few years...And now we have the car and it’s sensational.”
The Force 1 V10, showcased earlier this year for the first time at the Detroit Auto Show, is Fisker’s brainchild, blending both his signature design with the feel of an edgier muscle car. The 3,395-pound coupe features a carbon fiber body and a V10 engine, which can hit 60 mph in 3 seconds flat en route to its top speed of 218 mph.
“It’s not restrained in its style, and it’s not understated. It’s very much in your face, very aggressive, very American. And to me, that makes it quite different from any European [design],” says Lutz.
Based in Auburn Hills, Mich., VLF has sold about a dozen cars during their process of production. While Lutz doesn’t have finite numbers of how many cars he expects to sell this year, he sees the small company being profitable.
“We’d be happy to [sell] 100 cars this year. Right now, 100 for this year looks improbable, but we have no minimum quantity. We’re going to be profitable,” Lutz says. “We want our cars to be rare; we want them to be unusual, [and] we want the people who buy them to feel special and have people everywhere ask them, ‘What’s that?’ I’ve never heard of it.”
Longer-term Lutz believes they can move 500-600 cars a year. “That would make us extremely profitable and we might take a loan to accelerate development, but right now we’re not looking for additional equity,” he says. “We’re in the business of producing cars. We are America’s smallest, America’s newest and America’s highest priced car company and we kind of like it that way.”
The car’s credentials come at a steep price, however. Despite its Dodge-sourced chassis and powertrain, the carbon fiber-bodied Force 1 costs a steep $268,500. That’s $31,250 more than a Lamborghini Huracan 610-4 and about $160,000 more than a Viper GTS.
Still, the large price doesn’t deter the outspoken Lutz who sees VLF Automotive as a more profitable company than competitors such as Tesla Motors, which he wasn’t afraid to call out for its business model.
“You don’t have a manufacturing facility or the manufacturing facility isn’t up and running yet and you’re building the first few cars as you ramp up production. Obviously you’re going to lose money on those first few cars if you allocate the fixed cost of that whole factory,” Lutz says. “But when an automobile is in full production and they’re still losing over $16,000 per car, something is radically wrong. And what’s wrong, of course, is the whole business model.”