Tucked away in a small part of the Cobo Center was VLF Motors. The company (which received its new name after Henrik Fisker joined Bob Lutz and Gilbert Villarreal last week) had a pair of Destino V8’s on hand, but saved the best for last with the unveiling of the controversial Force 1 V10 supercar.
Prior to its unveiling, the Force 1 was the subject of a legal dispute between Henrik Fisker and Aston Martin. The last time the two clashed was over Fisker’s Thunderbolt 1 concept which was his interpretation of what the Aston Martin Vanquish would’ve looked like if he had designed it. Aston of course was not too pleased, and filed accordingly against Fisker for copyright infringement. The most recent battle between the two began when Fisker sued Aston Martin for $100 million dollars last week, claiming that the British luxury car maker tried to prevent him from unveiling the Force 1 citing the same copyright issues.
Luckily the Force 1 managed to wade its way through these troubled waters, and made its appearance earlier today at the 2016 North American International Auto Show. Based off of the current generation Dodge Viper, the Force 1’s origins as a road tearing serpent are prevalent in the general shape of its lightweight carbon fiber body which is reminiscent of older Vipers, while also looking very futuristic at the same time. The end result will depend on what interpretation of style people will have, some will love its abstract lines, while others will hate it. We are in the middle on that regard, with our favorite points being the rear fascia and the side profile. The front end looks a tad too busy for our tastes, but the look will certainly grow on some folks especially the lucky buyers that have a chance to park one in their driveway.
The interior is typical Dodge Viper both in its function oriented design and its claustrophobic tendencies, but VLF has made an effort at making life behind the wheel more enjoyable, equipping the car with hand stitched leather and suede seats, wi-fi capability, and a built in champagne holder. A carbon fiber sunglasses holder is also available as a piece of optional equipment. This is certainly an improvement over the donor car, and should please the small niche of well heeled clientele that the company is aiming for with this offering. It also appears that the car will retain much of its Chrysler sourced interior goods including the 8.4 inch Uconnect infotainment system.
Performance for the Force 1 comes from the Vipers familiar 8.4 liter V10, but VLF engineers have heavily modified it, and it now produces 745 horsepower which is enough to make the sprint to 60 mph in less than three seconds, and a top speed of 218 mph. The Force 1 will ship with a six speed manual transmission as standard equipment, but unlike the Viper, it will also feature an optional six speed automatic that incorporates steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. Look for this choice to be the volume seller, with the manual gearbox catering to purists.
VLF co-founder Bob Lutz claimed that the Force 1 took only 10 weeks to make the jump from sketch to production reality, and that both he and Villarreal had invested $10 million dollars into getting the company off the ground and to this current point in its young history. Lutz challenged any critics that doubt this strategy claiming “To get two production cars ready for that amount of money, I challenge anyone to do it.” Lutz claimed that part of what made this possible was VLF’s “no frills” approach which allows the company to operate in a relatively efficient manner. Lutz also revealed that the company is not out to chase bigger volume oriented production targets, revealing that the firm has “very modest goals” for 2016 and that if the company could produce roughly 100 cars in 2016 he would be “very satisfied. Lutz also elaborated on the subject of people wanting an American built car revealing that both vehicles will cater to a small niche market that wants a supercar, but would rather have it produced in the U.S. or Detroit versus overseas.
Lastly Lutz highlighted the struggle that it took for the company to move from the lobby of Cobo Center to the main show floor with their new booth being located between Toyota and Lexus displays. Lutz claimed that the location is strategically important, and that it will allow the company to reach out to a broader group of buyers versus the rather confined number that a spot in the lobby would have generated. In our eyes the move to the main floor is significant not only for the company’s relevance, but also highlights the progress it has made in generating enough capital to produce production ready vehicles.
In separate news, Henrik Fisker also pulled no punches in his statements to reporters and had fiery words for Aston (his former employer) when asked about his current litigation with the company. “To me, it was a threat, stopping the competition, that’s not the way to do it. You create cool cars to compete with each other.”
Pricing for the Force 1 is expected to begin at $268,800 which would put it in range of some of its more established supercar rivals, while also serving as a sizable markup over the Dodge Viper. We look forward to checking it out for ourselves in the near future, and hopefully will have more developments on that particular front in the near future. Stay tuned to Autoinfoquest for developments on the Force 1 as they happen.