Top Gear Interviews Henrik Fisker on the New Force 1 V10

The men behind a new Viper-based, carbon-bodied, 745bhp supercar are two legends of the car industry. Lutz, a straight-talking ex-Marine, served as vice-president of GM until 2010, while Fisker is the hand behind design icons like the BMW Z8 and Aston Martin DB9. We cornered them in Detroit…

TopGear: You already sell the Fisker-Karma based Destino V8, what’s the idea behind the Force One?

Henrik Fisker: The Force 1 is obviously the sports car in the family, and really aggressive. We tried to strike something between a race car and a luxury car. The interior’s very luxurious, but because of the active suspension, you can actually adjust the ride so it’s useable.

Bob Lutz: The interior is spectacular, just wait until you see this very frosty, high metallic content silver with this pumpkin pie coloured interior. It’s just dynamite. And you try telling me it looks like an Aston-Martin.

TG: After championing plug-in hybrids with the Karma, isn’t selling V8 and V10 super cars a bit of a contradiction?

BL: He means what’s a greenie like you doing with 650bhp cars like this.

HF: I always say it’s great to eat salad, but I don’t want to eat salad every day, I like to have a steak as well. Electric cars, plug in hybrids, hybrids, diesels, and supercars are all part of the car industry, and if I have a choice, which I do, I love working with cars that have a lot of power, that are luxurious and sporty.

TG: So what other models can we expect from you in the future?

HF: Within the next 12-16 months, we will have a new body on the Destino. Or at least, have a very modified one.

BL: If there’s one thing between Henrik, Gilbert, and myself, we have fifteen times the ideas that we can actually execute. We actually have a rule. We are only allowed to talk about our ideas on Saturdays. We have to put them in a special box, not to mix them into our daily work.

HF: I just had an idea. What about, for instance, a four-door convertible? Nobody’s done that. The Karma platform is definitely stiff enough…

TG: It must be refreshing having such a small, nimble team?

BL: Sure. We were talking about who was going to say what at tomorrow’s press conference, it took five minutes. We locked it up, decided that it was right. What we did would have taken a corporate PR staff of probably 20 or 30 people.

HF: With experience and a certain basic intelligence, which I think all 3 of us have, it is unbelievable how many steps you can skip.

TG: Is this the return of the old coach-building tradition?

HF: Sort of, but these cars actually have their own VIN number. It is a VLF Destino or VLF Force 1. Our aim is to bring cars a little faster to market, change them more often. There is something to that. Also, making a luxury car company that’s sustainable because that’s one of the problems, everybody’s chasing numbers. Because..

BL: Because they’re investing too much. I mean, you look at Bentley. Bentley sales have been down catastrophically. That’s because these kinds of cars have short shelf lives. You can’t leave them untouched for 4-5 years, which Volkswagen did. We will never build a car that’s not based on somebody else’s basic components, that’s where you blow tens of millions of dollars for nothing.

TG: What sort of numbers are you looking at selling per year?

HF: We will be close to selling a hundred Destinos this year. That’s all the cars we can get from the Chinese that now own the Fisker Karma… You can also convert Karmas, so if somebody wants to convert, we can do both. The Force 1, we are planning to do lower volumes, start with an initial run of 50, and of course, it’s built on the Viper chassis. We start production of the Force 1 in April this year, and start the first deliveries in June.

BL: Predicting numbers is tricky, because if you say one and don’t hit it people think you’ve failed. I’ll take an extreme case: 10 years from now, if all goes well, when I’m 94, we might be at a couple of thousand cars a year. We could be the size of McLaren, which looks huge, and we have no aspirations to do that. But, if natural growth takes us there, so be it.

 

-Originally published by Top Gear on January 14, 2016-

The OC Register's Take on the American Supercar of the Future, the Fisker Force 1

Aston Martin has nothing to worry about.

Reports surfaced earlier this week that Aston lawyers sent celebrity designer Henrik Fisker a letter warning him not to unveil his VLF Automotive Force 1 supercar in Detroit this week. They said the car looked too similar to the Aston Martin DB10 and that Fisker should change the design to avoid conflict with Aston Martin’s copyrights.

But after the debut, it’s easy to see that nobody would confuse this with anything so beautiful.

Yes, the rear end has some elements that from some angles could resemble that DB10, but the rest of it aggressively differentiates itself. The massive long hood has air vents like a rib cage and the arrogance of a Corvette; the carbon fiber wing sits so far up on the top of the carbon fiber roof that it looks like it has been misplaced altogether. (One man I know compared it to a bad lower-back tribal tattoo. No comment.) The sides are cut out and low, like a radiator scooping the ground.

The best feature of the car is the tiny curved side windows, which follow the line pulling from the front nose through the side and end in elegant wisps that point down toward the rear. Fisker says they’re a totally new element that is in keeping with the main idea of the car – which is to show off.

“This is an American supercar, and American cars are always about ‘show what you got – be upfront,’” Fisker said. “European cars are more about what’s underneath. But this is all about showing the power.”

The long hood, too, is there for a reason. It comprises more than half the car in order to house an 8.4 liter V-10, 745-horsepower engine. Force 1 will go 218 mph and will hit 60 mph in 3 seconds. It all makes sense, again, because Fisker says the car is an exercise in ostentation.

“We will have electric cars in the future, but just like we don’t want to eat salad every day – we want a steak every once in a while, or maybe a dessert –this is steak and dessert,” he said.

The company isn’t allowing test drives yet, but with a bunch of torque in the low gears, and that V-10 engine, suffice it to say it will be unique.

“When I design a car, I want people to look at it and go, ‘Wow that’s kind of interesting,’ and do a second take,” Fisker said.

One thing Force 1 really isn’t about is making money. Fisker said the reason he made this car is so that wealthy men will have an American option for spending $268,000 on a car. (It will be sold globally, but I expect most buyers will be American.) He said he expects that these men will already own several other luxury cars – Land Rovers, maybe a McLaren – and will relish the opportunity to buy something born in the USA.

And, better yet, he doesn’t really need to make that many of them. His new venture with GM icon Bob Lutz, VLF Automotive, is using pre-existing design facilities in California and manufacturing facilities in Michigan to make the new model,. That means the company’s costs, even when it uses elements like that carbon fiber roof, are pretty low.

He’ll make only 100 or so this year. Production starts in April.

 

-Originally Published by The Orange County Register on January 13, 2016-

Jalopnik on Wine Bottle Holder in the Fun Fisker Force 1 V10

Henrik Fisker’s latest creation, a Viper-based monster with more than 700 horsepower that doesn’t look like an Aston Martin at all known as the Force 1 V10, has provisions for two champagne bottles squeezed between the occupants. “Brilliant design choice,” you’re probably thinking about the mixture of alcohol and window-licking crazy amounts of power, but the reasoning behind it is even better.

After conceding that giving two bottles of champagne their own seats, complete with belts for their own safety and everything, was “almost a joke” and a “bit of fun,” Fisker actually brought up a great point about people who probably are great at parties but for only a little while.

“You’re driving to a party, and you’re bringing some champagne, of course,” he told me at the Detroit Auto Show. “But where are you going to put it? In the footwell, rolling around?”

This was obviously a predicament. One cannot have champagne bottles just rolling around, in the footwell.

“This is a much better solution.”

All the issues of setting yourself up immediately for a DUI upon returning from that party aside, it is indeed a better solution to bottles of champagne rolling around in the footwell.

Expect to see this handy feature rolling out to every single car in the world very shortly. Probably.

(Seriously though this car is already perfect and great, everyone please make cars that are wonderfully unhinged.)

 

-Originally published by Jalopnik on January 13, 2016-

Torque News on the Fisker Force 1 V10

Henrik Fisker and Bob Lutz have teamed up to create a unique new American supercar with a custom carbon fiber body wrapped around a Dodge Viper chassis and drivetrain – with 745 horsepower leading to a top speed of 218 miles per hour.

A few weeks back, it was announced that Henrik Fisker would debut a new V10-powered supercar at the Detroit Auto Show and at that point, we speculated that it would feature Dodge Viper power. This mysterious supercar was teased as the Force 1 V10 and now that the new supercar has been introduced in Detroit, we know that it not just Viper-powered – it is heavily based on the modern Dodge Viper.

This customized Dodge Viper is the result of a project between Bob Lutz, Henrik Fisker and Ben Keating. Bob Lutz is one of the most well-known men in the American auto industry, most recently introducing his VL Automotive brand, which puts Corvette engines in the Fisker Karma bodies. Henrik Fisker is a legendary automotive designer who has penned not just the Karma, but also a variety of historic BMW and Aston Martin vehicles. Finally, Ben Keating is the owner of one of the biggest Dodge dealers in the US when it comes to Viper sales, while also being the team owner and a driver of the current Dodge Viper endurance racing programs.

Shortly before the Detroit Auto Show, it was announced the Bob Lutz’s VL Automotive was becoming VLF Automotive – with the F being added to mark the arrival of new partner, Henrik Fisker. Once the two had teamed up, they sought the help of a Viper expert to help create what they call the All American Supercar.

The VLF Force 1
If the car shown above looks like it is shaped a little like the Dodge Viper (especially around the back), it is because this kind of is a Dodge Viper – or it was. The Force 1 has a custom carbon fiber body built onto the chassis of the modern Viper and the most recognizable features of the Dodge are the roofline and the rear hatch. However, the front and rear fascia, the side sculpting, the wheels and the hood are all significantly different from the stock Viper.

On the inside, the Force 1 is nearly identical to the Viper, except the interior cockpit has been lined in even higher end materials than what we find in the Dodge. I say “nearly”, because there a couple key differences, with a wine bottle holder between the seats and an automatic shifter paired with steering-wheel mounted shift paddles rather than the Viper’s manual transmission shifter. A manual transmission is standard, but a new 6-speed automatic developed specifically for this car is shown in all of the images – likely because the company would want to showcase the more user friendly option.

Next up, we have the drivetrain – which is the same 8.4L V10 from the modern Dodge Viper, but with the help of Viper Exchange owner Ben Keating, the output has been lifted from 645 to 745 horsepower while torque has jumped from 600 to 638lb-ft. The Force 1 also has a specially tuned version of the Viper’s active suspension system and the massive Brembo brakes of the Viper, so this car builds on what is already an incredible performance car.

The result is a custom supercar that will dash form 0-60 in just 3 seconds while also hitting a top speed of 218 miles per hour. This means that with the extra power and the unique aerodynamics, Fisker’s Force 1 will outrun the Dodge Viper in most races.

Limited and Expensive
The VLF Force 1 will be limited to just 50 units and when you add that exclusivity to the high end interior, the custom carbon fiber body and the beefed up Dodge Viper chassis/drivetrain, it should come as no surprise that the Force 1 costs more than the Viper. In fact, it costs quite a bit more, with an MSRP of $268,500 compared to the Viper GTS starting price of $110k making this unique supercar around $150k more. That is a big chunk of change, but for the prospective supercar buyer who has a quarter mil to spend on a car that will stand out in a crowd of Ferraris and Lamborghinis, this new VLF supercar could be an enticing option – especially for someone looking to crush European cars with American power.

 

-Originally published by Torque News on January 12, 2016-

Jalopnik On Henrik Fisker's Return With the Viper Based Force 1 V10

Bob Lutz and Henrik Fisker just showed the world their new Viper-based supercar, the VLF Force 1, at the Detroit Auto Show. It’s 745 horsepower of Michigan-built, ball-kicking testosterone. And it’s going into production soon.

We’ve already shown you Bob Lutz and Henrik Fisker’s new Fisker Karma-based Destino, the first offering from their new company, VLF. But now the two automobile execs launched a new supercar based on the Dodge Viper, and it looks like it’s going to kill something. Perhaps a bunny.

VLF took a Viper, made some changes to the suspension, camshafts, heads and exhaust, and ended up with a 745 horsepower, 638 lb-ft car that will get from 0-60 MPH in 3.0 seconds and scoot to a top speed of 218 MPH. The car supposedly rides much nicer than a Viper, since VLF used the ‘Vette as a benchmark for on-road ride quality. To get that cushy ride quality, VLF has thrown in some fancy adaptive damping electronics, which also allegedly helps the Force 1 pull 1.3Gs around a test track.

Those are some big numbers.

But with big numbers, come, well, even bigger numbers. Try 268,500. That’s how many dollars the new Force 1 will put you back when it releases to the public later this summer. But of course, they’re only building between 50 and 200 of the things, so if you want an even scarier looking Viper, you’d better get on the waiting list with the other seven people VLF says have already shown interest.

The design is wild. It’s got vents and ducts all over the place, and the beltline swoops like a fancy Italian mustache. It’s crazy. But I like it.

 

-Originally published by Jalopnik on January 12, 2016-

Car and Driver's First Look at the Fisker Force 1 V10

Since the bankruptcy and sale of his eponymous Fisker Automotive, Henrik Fisker’s taken the opportunity to meander about a bit, producing the Mustang Rocket in conjunction with Southern California’s Galpin Auto Sports and attempting to launch the ill-fated Thunderbolt project, torpedoed by legal objection from his former masters at Aston Martin. Now he has leapt into the Midwestern embrace of Bob Lutz and Gilbert Villarreal, lending his initial to their VL Motors concern and bringing the new Force 1 to bear at the Detroit auto show.

Based on the Dodge Viper, the hastily assembled (six weeks from start to finish) Force 1 gives VLF a sibling to its Destino, a Corvette-powered rework of Fisker’s Karma. Save for its cab-rearward proportions, the Force 1 looks nothing like its donor vehicle, nor does it particularly resemble an Aston Martin. One could say that the new car’s nose resembles a Miata regurgitating a Mustang. Once seen, it’s an impression that’s hard to shake. On the other hand, with a projected zero-to-60 time of three seconds and a claimed top speed of 218 mph, the VLF could well be inhaling said Mustang.

Under the rippled, multi-ducted hood, the Force 1 carries a reworked Mopar V-10 churning out 745 horsepower. A paddle-shift automatic will be optional, although VLF was mum about the supplier. We’d assume a version of the eight-speed automatic used in Dodge’s Hellcats will get the nod. Inside, the upholstery is a mixture of leather and actual suede, rather than the synthetic stuff. Between the seats, the Force 1 has a provision for carrying a pair of wine bottles, which Lutz suggested could be exchanged for fire bottles when track duty enters the equation.

VLF plans to build 50 examples of the machine with a base price of $258,500. The company hopes to sell out the run by the end of 2017. That’d buy you a loaded Viper, a whole lotta Paul Masson, and enough duct tape to keep a couple of bottles firmly nestled against the rear bulkhead at all times.

-Originally published by Car and Driver on January 12, 2016-

Business Insider Welcomes The American Made Fisker Force 1

Henrik Fisker, one of the more complicated and controversial figures in the auto industry, was a picture of suave and calm the day before the reveal of his new Force 1 supercar. 

It's a far cry from the embattled Fisker I last saw at a party on a rainy night in Los Angeles in 2011, when his company, Fisker Automotive, was less than a year from bankruptcy.

He was a bit of grim cheerleader back then, trying to rally his troops and customers as Fisker Automotive struggled to live up to its early promise. 

But at the Detroit Auto Show this year, he's back at his best.

"It feels great to be back," he said, surrounded by chassis of old Fisker Karmas that have had the hybrid-electric motors extracted and big 638-horsepower Corvette V8s dropped in, courtesy of what used to be called VL Automotive, but that will now be known as VLF Automotive.

'No mercy'

The V is for Gilbert Villarreal, a bespoke engineer who operates out of Motown. The L is for Bob Lutz, a former Marine aviator who was for decades, prior to his recent retirement, the definitive car guy, with stints at Chrysler and BMW before landing at GM as the company's product czar. The F, of course, is for Fisker.

VLF Automotive was tucked away on the floor of the Cobo Center, the sprawling downtown home of the Detroit Auto Show. Villarreal's VM Destinos are sharing the modest space with a car under a silvery sheet: the Force 1, which Fisker's former employer, Aston Martin, claims is a ripoff of his designs for the famed British marque.

Fisker was so baffled by the accusation that he field a lawsuit against Aston Martin, claiming extortion. He flicks through images of a car on his iPad, pointing out all the unique elements, almost as if he's sketching. Old designers never die, they just imagine new cars. 

Fisker, however, is under no illusions about what VLF is up against.

"In this industry, you have to have passion," he said. "It's tough, there's no mercy. But I just love cars — I love to bring a new car to market. And every time I do this, it gets a little easier."

Comeback kid

Frankly, I had expected to meet a far more scarred and haggard Fisker than I did. But the sleek Dane with a twinkle in his eye, bounce in his step, and brand new supercar to show off came off like a man with a fresh lease on life. 

It helps that he occupies a unique place in the industry, one shared only by the likes of Elon Musk. A new car company is something more rare than a black swan. While we chatted, Fisker was assaulted by well-wishers and fans. He's the living embodiment of something that's nearly impossible to do in the merciless car business.

He makes an ideal partner for Lutz, a forthright executive who labored within the traditional industry but always came off as the only person who really knew what car lovers truly wanted.

In the case of VLF, that's something close to pure automotive pleasure, at the two critical levels of brash design and raw power. 

Fisker is clearly proud of the innovations he introduced with the Karma, a pricey plug-in hybrid that was Tesla's main competition when both carmakers hit the scene – the Karma, in fact, got there first.

But he's moved on.

The Force 1 is his new baby, an American supercar who's only real rival, given the anticipated $300,00o price tag, is Ford's GT, a $400,000 roadgoing version of a Le Mans race car.

"We wanted to make it extreme," he said. "There were no committees. We wanted to do what we love and do what we think is right."

Not that it's all old-school car guy brandishing. Fisker outlines a decent business case.

"If you want to spend over $200,000, it's hard to find an American car like this. You have to buy a foreign car. I just find it strange that there isn't competition for the Europeans. There is a niche for us."

All-American

"America is more extreme and flamboyant," he said. 

That view explains why Fisker sees the Force 1 joining the ranks of the most American of American cars. He throws around words like "high power" and "high torque" speaks admiringly of "the size and volume" of the shapes that characterize the "fee spirit" of the best American machines.

This raises an obvious question: Has VLF built the last of the dinosaurs? 

Fisker doesn't think so. True, GM just rolled out a small all-electric car at CES in Las Vegas, the Bolt, and Tesla will bring a similar mass-market EV to the game in 2017, the Model 3. Gas may be less than $2 a gallon is parts of the US and SUV may be selling like crazy, but are we really ready to go back to mythical American cars of the cheap-gas-forever age?

"The optimism in the industry helps right now," Fisker said.

And then he tips his hand, saying something that only a true car guy would say.

"You don't have to drive an annoying little car that you don't like."

Welcome back, Mr. Fisker.

 

-Originally published by Business Insider on January 12, 2016-

First Look at the New V10 Fisker With The Detroit News

VLF Automotive may be the smallest automaker on the Detroit Show Floor but it sports two of the industry’s biggest names. Legendary ex-GM and Chrysler product chief Bob Lutz and former-Aston Martin designer Henrik Fisker teamed up to introduce their latest creation Tuesday: The 2017 VPL Force 1 supercar.

Fortunately, they didn’t fire up the monster’s 8.4-liter, 745-horsepower engine or it might have cracked Cobo’s foundation.

The Force 1 will reach 218 mph and launch from zero-60 mpg in just 3.0 seconds. Built on a Dodge Viper SRT frame with an entirely new, carbon-fiber skin designed by Fisker, the Force 1 is a muscle car for the 21st century. The VLF display, located inside Cobo Center for the first time this year, also features the production-ready VLF Destino, the company’s first supercar effort unveiled in Detroit in 2013.

The 638-horsepower, V-8 Destino sedan is built on the plug-in electric chassis from Fisker’s troubled Karma vehicle venture, which recently emerged from bankruptcy. Both cars will be Made in Michigan. The Force 1 platform will be supplied by FCA from its Connor Avenue, Detroit plant and the V10 Viper engine sourced from Daytona 24-Hour race winner, Ben Keating, from his shop in Houston, Texas. Keating is also the country’s largest Viper dealer.

“Both the sedan and coupe will be assembled in Auburn Hills with 30 employees,” said Lutz. “Chrysler’s ‘Imported from Detroit’ tagline really touched a nerve. We believe there is a hunger for Detroit-made products like Shinola.”

The Force One will start at $268,000, and the Destino at $229,000. Production will initially be limited to 100 cars per year.

While the Force 1 is built on the familiar bones of the Viper, it will feature bigger, 21-inch wheels, a plush leather-and-alcantara interior, and unique, ultra-thin, LED headlights made especially for the car.

“They are super modern,” says Fisker. “No one has done lights like these before. The taillights are the thinnest in the world.”

VLF represents the initials of entrepreneur and manufacturer Gilbert Villarreal, Lutz, and Fisker. “I’m the figurehead, Henrik is the chief designer, and Gilbert knows how to make” the cars, said Lutz.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Email him at hpayne@detroitnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @HenryEPayne.

 

-Originally published by The Detroit News on January 12, 2016-

Fisker Force 1 Featured In The Dallas Morning News

If you’re in the market for a 700-horsepower sports car with a carbon-fiber body and a pedigree, tiny VLF Automotive might have your hot ride.

VLF, a small Michigan company with heavyweight principals, introduced its Force 1 V10 super-car Tuesday at the Detroit auto show, unveiling an edgy, aggressive-looking two-seater based on a Dodge Viper.

The new company’s principals include Bob Lutz, the former head of global product development at Chrysler and later, vice chairman of global product development at General Motors; designer Henrik Fisker, who worked on significant vehicles at BMW, Ford and Aston Martin; entrepreneur Gilbert Villarreal; and race-car driver Ben Keating.

Already, the Force 1 is the subject of a lawsuit between Fisker and Aston Martin, which contends the new sports car looks too much like an Aston.

It’s a bit hard to see, but the Force 1 certainly should have no trouble drawing a crowd.

Wearing a blustery, swooping carbon-fiber body, 21-inch wheels and configured – like the Viper – with a long hood and extremely short trunk, the car will be aimed at wealthy enthusiasts looking for something unique.

The Force 1 will be powered by a 745-horsepower version of the Viper’s 8.4-liter V-10, but will offer a more luxurious hand-stitched leather interior equipped with a champagne holder.

It will be capable of hitting 60 mph in 3 seconds and has a top speed of 218 mph, VLF said. Pricing for the Force 1 starts at $268,500.

Initial production will be limited to 50 vehicles and VLF says it will start delivering cars in the third quarter.

The new company — funded partly by a $10 million investment by Lutz and Villarreal — is based in Auburn Hills.

“This is an American supercar,” Fisker said. “We’ve created a very unique design here that stands up for itself.”

 

-Originally published by The Dallas Morning News on January 12, 2016-