Which of these electric hyper-machines will actually ever exist? We take a punt
We’re not sure if we were just looking the other way – possibly at a Porsche 911 reimagined by Singer – but electric cars have reached and breached somewhat of a tipping point. Seemingly overnight, they’ve transformed from offbeat curiosities, straight through early-adopter fodder and on to the point where we’re starting to use the phrase ‘this Lamborghini is nearly as fast as an electric four-door’.
It’s a world of promise for carmakers, not seen since early 20th century when the idea of personal cars first took off. But, as you might remember, the road to the motoring world as we know it is littered with names that are now little more than footnotes. There are literally, and we mean literally, hundreds of manufacturers that haven’t made it to the present day – and quite a few never made it past a few ruinously expensive years.
Yes, the car business is an exceptionally cruel one – with regulations, shifting consumer demands and incredibly extensive setup costs – and only a few survive. So what sort of chance does the new crop of carmakers stand?
That’s a fair question, actually. And we’re not exactly clairvoyants. Let’s narrow the focus then, and look at the current crop of electric supercars on offer from the new breed of manufacturers. What are the chances that they’ll ever hit the roads?
Vanda Electrics Dendrobium
For: They’ve got Williams on board to build it
Against: They’ve only made low-speed runabouts so far
Chances for success: Iffy
Vanda’s an exceptionally small company, which to date has built a small electric truck called the Ant and a tiny electric bike called the Motochimp. That said, they do have experience with electric vehicle tech, and that’s not nothing.
Enticing Williams into the mix is no small coup, either. Sure, Williams hasn’t tasted success in F1 for quite a while, but there’s little arguing with its ability to make a brisk car. It must be said, also, that it’s Williams F1’s sister company, Williams Advanced Engineering, which is actually on deck to help the Dendrobium blossom.
Rubbish dad jokes aside, it’s going to be one hell of an uphill slog to go from Tonka Trucks and dinky bikes to 322kph all-electric hypercars. We’re truly curious to see if they can pull it off.
Rimac Concept One / Concept S
For: They’ve already built some; Rimac supplies electric tech to industry giants
Against: They’re only building eight Concept Ones; no word on the Concept S yet
Chances for success: Strong
How does one properly explain the practical effect of 1073bhp and 1600Nm? Swearing like a stabbed dockworker would be a start. Wearing an expression like you’ve just walked in on your parents would be a decent follow-up.
This kind of shove is approaching lunacy, and its 0-100 time of 2.6 seconds is approaching painful levels. Top speed, in case you’re curious, is 356kph, courtesy of a pair of two-speed, double-clutch gearboxes seated in the rear axle, which allows a longer final drive than single-speed Teslas and the like.
It’s packed full of tech like four-wheel torque vectoring, and comes with a price tag to match the holy trinity of P1, 918 and LaFerrari: £1m, or thereabouts.
And there’s the crux – real pricing, real performance and real cars, out on the road. It may be called a Concept, but this Rimac is a proper road car.
The Concept S, on the other hand, is an artful lesson in ‘nothing exceeds like excess’ – 0-100 in 2.5 seconds, 0-200kph in 5.6 seconds, 365kph top speed and 1384bhp. Where will it end?
For: It’s already hit lap records at the Nurburgring and the Circuit of the Americas
Against: You can’t buy one
Chances for success: Er…
According to Nelson Piquet Jr (yep, that one), the EP9 had to do its entire Nurburgring hot lap at rather more lukewarm outputs, lest the battery pack self-combust due to the heat generated by drawing the full 1360bhp that it’s capable of.
Battery heat, it seems, is going to be a real problem for the electric supercar future. Raw speed, on the other hand, won’t – it still managed a 7m 05s time, which is anything but tardy. What it is, to be more precise, is an electric car record.
The EP9 then followed up its Nürburgring debut with two more at the Circuit of the Americas. And they’re worth looking into.
Now, we reach the rub. You can’t buy one. They’re making just six, and they’ve all been assigned to their prospective owners.
Classic Factory Elextra
For: Classic Factory’s ‘Lyonheart K’ (nee: Growler) showed promise
Against: So far, we have a drawing and a lot of promises
Chances for success: Hmmm
If you believe the hype, the Elextra will do 0-100 in 2.3 seconds and seat four. It’ll also be based on “the best electric vehicle platform in the world.”
If it seems like we’re short on facts, it’s because we are. We do know that it’s from a Swiss company called Classic Factory, who are the ones behind the Growler concept – which was renamed the ‘Lyonheart K’, for reasons we won’t enter into.
Remember that kid at school whose dad was a multimillionaire astronaut? Yeah.
For: It has an onboard turbine
Against: Y’know how well the last turbine-powered supercar panned out
Chances for success: Middling
Now, Techrules ekes into this list in that final motive force is provided by electric motors only. It’s quite a bit like a diesel-electric locomotive, if you will, taken to the nth degree with its own turbine engine. Turbines are fantastic bits of kit, as they can run on diesel, petrol, LPG or even pure hydrogen.
The turbine runs at a constant rate (i.e optimum power and fuel efficiency), driving a generator that charges up onboard batteries. The batteries then drive six (yes, four in the rear and two up front) electric motors to produce 1282bhp and 2340Nm of torque. Ye, gods indeed.
And, because the Ren doesn’t need big battery packs (or a gigantic engine to charge them), the weight can be kept down to about 1700kg, which helps it hit 320kph, after charging from zero to 100 in 2.5 seconds. If this is all too much (and we doubt any of the 96 prospective owners will think so), you can always ask for a twin or quad-engined model instead.
Techrules says it’s already tested the Ren at Monza and should begin production in 2018.
Faraday Future FFZero1
For: It has as much power as a McLaren P1 GTR
Against: It’s an engineering testbed
Chances for success: Zip
Faraday Future has made quite a few big claims about its cars in the past – like their four-door FF91 being able to “smoke all the Ferraris”.
And big talk tends to end in big upset, unless there’s a rather large amount of wherewithal behind it.
And, as we discovered in a past issue of TopGear Malaysia magazine, Faraday Future is already up to hot and cold-weather testing of the FF91, which everyone thinks is a Tesla rival but might be more of a rival to Bentley. We really think that Faraday could make a decent fist of things.
So, what of the FFZero1? Unfortunately, it’s just the electronic version of pie in the sky, acting as a kind of ‘look what we can do’ from Faraday Future. Still, hold on to hope and all that.
For: Hipster cred for knowing it exists; the Tomahawk name sounds cool
Against: Not to be unkind, but its looks; competition
Chances for success: Cutting it fine
Heard of it? Didn’t think so.
The Canadian-American electric supercar manufacturer has, so far, launched a crowdfunding campaign to kick things off, before calling for many more investors on its website. Oh, the car. Yes.
Apparently, the Tomahawk is a 2+2, all-electric supercar, that’ll do 0-100 in three seconds and is “the most practical and high-end sports car approved by mother nature.” Indeed.
Dubuc goes on to say that “the ingenuity of its spacious interior ensures comfort in a state of our ecstasy!” And we’re not entirely sure how to respond to that.
But, rest assured that the “roomy four-seater was designed with the big and tall in mind, with cargo space that surpasses expectations, opening a market for professional athletes and enabling them to acquire an exotic vehicle that meets their needs.” Well, they’re ambitious, if nothing else.
NanoFlowcell Quant 48Volt
For: It’s a very cool idea
Against: It’s a tech demonstrator for tech that shouldn’t work
Chances for success: Absolutely none
It’ll do 0-100 in 2.4 seconds and has a top speed of 300kph. But, as NanoFlowcell says, “The top speed of the Quant 48Volt is actually secondary.”
As you may have guessed, the Quant 48Volt runs on 48-volt electricity, as opposed to the hundreds of volts needed to power the i3, Model S or Mirai. It’s apparently much safer than high-voltage setups (although we’d argue that amps are the dangerous bit), despite 750bhp and a theoretical range of 998km per, um… fill?
And here’s the rub. The Quant 48V uses exceptionally geeky tech, and it’s something that’ll never make mass production – at least not with NanoFlowcell at the helm.
You see, it’s an engineering demonstrator, a sort of public prototype that advertises the capability of NanoFlowcell’s tech. They’re exceptionally shtum about the exact details of how it works, but intend to sell the tech to a large company to bring it to market. So, the Quant? It’ll never happen.
Artega Scalo Superelletra
For: Carrozzeria Touring designed the gorgeous bodywork
Against: Artega’s not exactly a household name
Chances for success: We’re actually optimistic
Apparently, instead of the 262bhp on offer in the standard Scalo, there’s more than 1000bhp waiting in the wings. If you combine that with the rather reserved (and dare we say gorgeous) bodywork, courtesy of Touring of Milan, it’s actually a bit of a Q-car.
And then it’s more of the usual electric supercar version of top trumps – 0-100 in 2.7 seconds, top speed of 300kph, charges from flat to 80 per cent in 17 minutes. It’s all pretty tantalising stuff and much more than we would ever think to deploy on a public road.
According to Artega, “real connoisseurs don’t want loud luxury,” rather something that’s “attractive but discreet, cool and nonchalant.” And call us crazy, but there’s something to be said for a car that doesn’t announce itself with the visual equivalent of an army equipped with tanks and vuvuzelas.
So, you might be wondering, will it actually ever exist? Well, Artega’s past form hasn’t been outstanding – the original, Henrik Fisker-designed, VR6-powered GT wasn’t enough to stave off bankruptcy and eventual buyout.
But this one, under new owners and with a whole new powertrain, looks more believable, with a build date in the comfortably near future of 2019. And, considering that Artega has a contract with Touring to build 50 cars, it looks like it might even happen.
Happy days, indeed.