Newly created Dendrobium Automotive was created to produce the D-1, created in conjunction with Williams Advanced Engineering
The Dendrobium D-1, the first in an upcoming range of electric road cars from the Dendrobium Automotive arm of Singapore-based Vanda Electrics, will be developed and built in the UK, the newly-created automotive company has announced.
Due for reveal later this summer at Salon Privé, the D-1 is being pushed to market by Dendrobium Automotive, a newly assembled team under Vanda Electrics led by former sales and marketing executive to McLaren and Lamborghini and former Lotus associate director Nigel Gordon-Stewart.
The company will eventually use solid-state batteries to power the D-1, and is developing all of the car’s technology in the UK. “We are developing unique cabling and connector systems as well as our own complete vehicle integration and ADAS hardware and software. From a technical perspective, the D-1 will be a British engineering tour-de-force,” said Gordon-Stewart.
1800bhp and 1475lb ft of torque are targeted from the car, while the powertrain will be tuned to deliver the project’s two main targets: 200mph and 0-60mph in 2.7sec. A target weight of 1750kg has also been set. A mixture of carbonfibre, advanced composites and alloys have been employed to help keep the car’s weight down. Construction is centred on a carbonfibre tub.
Other board members include former Ferrari, Pagani and Rimac executive Jens Sverdrup, and the board is chaired by Michael Kimberley, co-founder of Lotus Engineering.
The 200mph British-built electric supercar concept, which made its debut in March at the Geneva motor show, is being lined up for production, where it is expected to command a seven-figure price tag. Vanda said it has already received a number of orders for the car.
— Autocar (@autocar) July 28, 2017
The two-seat ‘petal-roofed’ Dendrobium is the product of Grove-based Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE), whose engineers spent 2016 turning design sketches into the neatly finished concept. According to Larissa Tan, the boss of Vanda Electrics, the next step is to engineer the Dendrobium for limited production “in the tens, rather than the hundreds”. Production is planned to kick off by 2019.
As shown by the new video, WAE head of programmes Ian Cluett, who was leading the project from Williams’ side, had the car built to a running standard. Full details of the electric power train have not been revealed but, to hit 200mph, the Dendrobium will need more than 700bhp, four-wheel drive, a two-speed gearbox and most likely three electric motors — one at the front and two at the rear.
However, to turn the concept car into a ‘dynamic demonstrator’, it features a single motor and a lithium ion battery pack derived from the Formula E set-up that WAE designed for the race series. WAE has been set a number of tough challenges by the Dendrobium’s design, which features a teardrop-shaped centre section, exposed rear suspension components and unique roof/door opening.
The rear-hinging doors and roof lend the supercar its name; their ‘petal-like’ shape mimicking the Vanda orchid, Singapore’s national flower. Dendrobium is an orchid genus.
Locking the doors and lightweight roof shut at 200mph will be a considerable engineering challenge for WAE. The Dendrobium hasn’t been in the wind tunnel yet, but Cluett said its behaviour has been computer-modelled. The tapering rear bodywork also leaves little volume for a battery pack. WAE can’t package the battery between the wheels, Tesla-style, because that would push the centre of gravity too high. As a result, it is likely to feature a relatively small battery pack of 30-50kWh, rather than the 80-100kWh of the Tesla Model S.
There is also work to be done on the interior packaging, which places the occupants too far outboard and pinned against an intrusive door trim.
Remarkably, the Dendrobium’s design dates to 1996 and was created by an unnamed designer. According to Tan, it was revised “in the mid-2000s”, but the designer wishes to remain anonymous.
Vanda Electrics is a privately funded engineering company with investors in the US and China.
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