Plenty of companies have come and gone with the goal of selling exclusive, expensive product to wealthy customers. VLF, Bob Lutz’s latest automotive project, is no different.
Except, Lutz has an intriguing business model he shared with Automotive News: use existing cars, and don’t modify much of anything.
What he means by that is keeping a vehicle structurally the same, which in the end means saved costs on engineering and development. For example, the VLF Destino is a largely a reskinned Fisker Karma. VLF was able to skip out on safety testing because the vehicle is identical save for the powertrain, styling and chassis tuning.
But, by removing the old PHEV tech and dropping in a 6.2-liter supercharged LS9 V8 engine and tweaking the cockpit and exterior styling, VLF has a brand new product.
“Every other startup goes out and gets a bunch of money, like Fisker and Tesla, and all the failed electric car companies. And then they put in a huge staff like a regular automobile company,” Lutz told AN. “And they have a PR staff and an HR department and they have this incredible cash burn. And by the time they launch the car, if the volume isn’t there, it collapses.”
By keeping the vehicle largely the same, it saves millions of dollars. Thus far, Lutz says VLF’s entire investment sits around just $10 million.
“We try to avoid reinventing the wheel,” said Lutz. “We seek to use the existing safety systems, airbag systems. We try to keep the cost at the absolute minimum. We will never do our own engine. We will never do our own windshield. The minute you start touching the cowl, plenum, air conditioning and instrument panel, you are off to the races in certification.”
And with that state of mind, Lutz stated VLF is a dream job come true for the 84-year-old automotive executive.
“You can take a guy out of the automobile business, but you can’t the automobile business out of the guy,” Lutz says with a smile. “So, I enjoy the creative process. And I always dreamed of having an exclusive car with my name on it, at least partially. VLF is a retirement project. I don’t expect to become phenomenally wealthy. If I become a little bit wealthy, I won’t complain. For me, this is a dream come true.”