If you're looking to spend $1.9 million on a new vehicle, an Italian armored car based on a Ford F-550 chassis is probably not on your radar. Karlmann is trying to change that.
The company operates from Los Angeles, has a factory in Italy and is largely financed by Beijing-based International Automotive Technologies. Its first product, the Karlmann King, is a massive rolling lounge complete with recliners, a coffee maker, champagne flutes, a massive TV and a price tag that makes it the world's most expensive SUV.
On top of the stratospheric starting price, buyers can customize the King to their liking. Alligator-skin seats, real gold trim and specialty upholstery are all available for a price. Michael Nothdurft, Karlman's sales director, says a client in Africa ordered a Karlman King with a $3.5 million price tag.
One big part of that additional cost: bulletproofing. Most King buyers opt for the bullet-resistant option, which adds at least $300,000 to the price depending on the level of protection clients want.
The buyers of these bulletproof monster trucks range from clients in dangerous parts of the Middle East and Africa to real estate moguls and high-dollar watch traders in the United States. But for less security-conscious shoppers, Nothdurft stresses that the King is supposed to be a rolling work of art.
It's undeniably different than anything else you'll see on U.S. roads. It has extremely angular styling and is absolutely massive.
"This car is the most emotional car that you can see at auto shows," Nothdurft told CNBC. "People either hate it or they love it."
The King is based on a Ford F-550 chassis. The F-550 a massive truck frame that Nothdurft says was chosen for its proven durability and ability to handle the weight of an armored luxury vehicle. The King maintains the 6.8-liter V-10, suspension components and transmission of the F-550 and is therefore limited to 87 mph. The interior, however, is bespoke.
Karlman is looking to get a U.S. manufacturing line built in the next few months, but for now, the King is hand-built in Italy. For U.S. market cars, armoring takes place in the States.
The company currently has 20 buyers lined up in North America, Nothdurft said.
Buyers who order a King today should expect delivery in nine to 15 months.