One indication that electric vehicles are clearly ready for the mainstream market is that they’re already becoming desirable in the rarefied atmosphere of the supercar and sports car markets.
The Renovo Coupe might not be much use for the average commuter–if only for budgetary reasons–but as a tool to demonstrate just what electric cars can do (wrapped in a wonderfully pretty body), there are few better vehicles.
Renovo launched its electric supercar at the recent Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, seen here in XCAR‘s interview of CEO Christopher Heiser.
Heiser says the company name alludes to the concept of being renewed or reborn–the company aims to do something new in the market and to offer customers a new experience.
If you’re not familiar with the Renovo’s shape and color scheme, the name ‘Shelby’ might refresh your memory–each car is an electric interpretation of one of America’s most significant automobiles, the Shelby Daytona Coupe.
Indeed, the Coupe is based on a genuine Shelby chassis and modified for its new electric drivetrain, before being delivered to Renovo’s Silicon Valley facility for completion. It’s even been re-styled by Peter Brock–the man who designed the original back in the 1960s.
So secretive was the project until the Pebble Beach launch, the Coupe had only been tested at night, away from the watchful gaze of the public.
Still, if you’re being stealthy, an electric powertrain is clearly the way forward–even one producing over 500 horsepower, 1,000 lb-ft of torque and launching the stunning Daytona body to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds.
It’ll also fast-charge in 30 minutes, though Renovo has kept the range low to ensure curb weight (3,250 lbs) is also low–each Coupe will do a middling 100 miles on a charge. For a car aimed mainly at wealthy customers wanting fun weekend toys, that’s perhaps not such a bad thing.
Attention to detail is stunning and puts paid to any suggestions that electric vehicles can’t be emotive objects–from the drivetrain which looks as good as any internal combustion engine to the interior with its clasically-styled yet up-to-date digital gauges, to the LED headlights in classic perspex covers, it’s an intriguing mix of new and old.
As we’ve found with other companies such as EV West and Zelectric Motors, the cars themselves are as important as the powertrains in projects like this.
Electric powertrains aren’t just a way of making vehicles cleaner (though that’s of course a hugely important factor); they also enable a whole new way of building desirable cars and performance models.
Heiser describes it as “game-changing”. He’s right–while few will get to try out cars like the Renovo for themselves, on an industry scale electric performance cars like the Renovo Coupe really could take performance in a whole new direction.
At the time, Bose was 22 and had just graduated from the National Institute of Design (NID), waiting to go work for Piaggio in Italy. He’s now 39 and head of design at Tata Motors, which means it’s his task to make sure that the line-up looks fresh and exciting. This is going to be critical if the company wants to have cars that people want to buy just as sales are reviving and the economy looks like its about to turn around.
For the last two-three years, Tata Motors has only made money because of Ratan Tata’s inspired decision to buy Jaguar Land Rover in 2008-9. While JLR’s cars are exceptionally attractive, the Tata Motors line-up looks terribly jaded.
Can Bose get people to think differently with the newly launched Zest and the soon to be unveiled Bolt? It’s going to be difficult. Sixteen years ago, the Indica—designed by Italian design house IDEA–looked remarkably fresh.
“It was a modern, indigenous product. I saw the car and thought to myself, it must be a fantastic company to work with,” says Bose, who has an MA on vehicle design from the Royal College of Art, UK, which has trained many renowned global designers.
Over the next eight years (1998-2006), Bose gained international exposure with stints at Piaggio in Italy, and Mitsubishi and Daimler Chrysler in Japan, working on key projects. In September 2006, he met Ravi Kant, then managing director of Tata Motors, and asked for a meeting with Ratan Tata. A few months later, he was making a presentation to then chairman at Bombay House.
“At the end of the day, Mr Tata said, ‘Most of the things you said in the presentation, I disagree with, but I think it is a good point of view, Would you like to work with us at TMETC (Tata Motors European Technical Centre)?” Bose recalls.
Since coming on board, Bose has been in charge of design concepts such as the Pixel, Mega Pixel and Nexon, showcased at the Auto Expo in New Delhi to largely positive reviews.
He’s part of the new RD unit at Tata Motors led by Tim Leverton and Girish Wagh. While Leverton heads RD, Wagh is head of product planning and project management, driving the HorizonNext initiative started by the late Karl Slym, former managing director.
Bose says his mandate is clear: Tata cars need to look good enough for customers to want them. So far, Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry seems to be happy with the way things are shaping up.
“We recently had a design review of one of our future cars and the feedback from Mr Mistry was just one word, ‘Stunning’. He said the same thing after looking at the Nexon (SUV concept). And that is the clear direction, that is one word we want to get from our customers,” says Bose.
The College for Creative Studies’ automotive design program is notoriously cutthroat, but Darby Barber, 21, had a pretty compelling reason to drop out for a semester. The opportunity of a lifetime arrived when reps from Motor City Masters, a new Chevy-sponsored reality TV program, approached Barber to join the cast. The youngest designer on the show, and one of only two female contestants, Barber was flown out to Los Angeles (“Motor City,” eh?) for six weeks of filming which pit her against seasoned pros, such as Detroit’s own Camilo Pardo.
The show features Jean Jennings, former editor-in-chief of Automobile Magazine, and entertainment vehicle designer Harald Belker as judges. In addition to the title of “Motor City Master,” the winner receives a 2014 Camaro Z28 and $100,000 cash. And although she got eliminated on Tuesday’s episode, we caught up with Barber via phone on a break from her summer internship at GM (with a publicist from Turner Entertainment Networks on the line to make sure no beans were spilled) to ask about her wild ride.
Metro Times: So how did you get hooked up with Motor City Masters? Did you apply to it, or did they seek you out?
Darby Barber: I actually didn’t apply. I had heard about it — my roommate and my friend had applied. You had to be 21 years or older to do it, and I was 20 at the time. Then someone from the show messaged me on Facebook. It ended up not being an issue.
MT: What’s the format of the show like? Are you broken off into teams, or are you working solo?
DB: There’s an individual challenge, where they have the designers do an individual challenge and you get 1-2 hours to do it, depending on what it is. It would be like airbrushing, drawing, or building. There’s two winners, and then there’s one overall winner. The overall winner gets immunity and the first pick of their team, and the second winner is the team leader also. So the two winners are the team leaders for the team challenge. Then you get broken up between two teams, and team leaders pick who they want to be on their team, schoolyard-style. And that’s when you have two days to build the car.
MT: So were you guys building like full concepts of cars?
DB: Yeah. There was a NASCAR one, that one was just graphics, but the rest of them were building. There was a Transformers one, and we had to make a Sonic into a Transformer. There was a Silverado beach truck. That was my favorite. They were legit builds — paint and everything and the whole nine yards.
MT: These were more than just clay models?
DB: It’s a real car. It’s a real, brand-new Chevy car. We went through about 20 brand-new Chevys, and we tore them apart and redid them and repainted them.
MT: Was there anything you had to build that you had no experience with before?
DB: There was a lot I didn’t know. I draw, but I hadn’t built much. The building was definitely new to me, but we had shop techs to help us, so they kind of showed us what to do and did a lot of the work, too.
MT: Does your love of cars go back a long way?
DB: Yeah, it’s pretty much my life. Before I was 16, all I would think about was cars. I actually made a promise with my dad that if I got straight A’s through high school he’d get me a car when I turned 16. And I made straight A’s, but he didn’t buy me a car. I don’t think he thought I’d actually do it, because my freshman year I didn’t do too good. I had it picked out, I had a picture of it and the color and everything I wanted.
MT: What car did you want?
DB: At the time I actually wanted a yellow Cobalt — which I’m glad I didn’t get. I don’t really want that anymore. My life’s goal is to own a car that I designed.
MT: What is your all-time favorite car?
DB: It kind of changes every month, but right now a probably a McLaren P1. That car is pretty sexy.
MT: What’s your preferred method of rendering?
DB: I have a sketchbook that I’ll bring with me and I’ll sketch with ballpoint pen or Prismacolor, and I’ll sketch cars, horses, people — anything. For car design specifically, I usually start out on a Cintiq. A Cintiq is nice because it’s easy, it’s quick, and then instead of going through all this expensive paint, it’s just color on a computer.
MT: What era of car design influences you the most?
DB: I like the muscularity of past cars, especially the ’80s. The ’90s Silverado was my favorite year because it was so much a truck — there’s no curves or smooth lines on them. But for cars, and trucks too, I like to think far ahead and modern. I don’t want to draw something that you’ve seen before.
MT: Are you into working on your car?
DB: I love working on my car. I just bought a Miata, because I wanted a stick shift, and I wanted to learn how to swap a different engine into it, or turbo it. I wanted to learn how to do that stuff. Someday I plan on having my own personal garage where I’m just going to build my own cars.
MT: What would be your dream job following CCS?
DB: Exterior car designer, and to race cars or something on the side. I get a lot of jokes from the guys at school that I’m just going to get a job because I’m a girl. So I strive really hard to be the best in the class, so I can get the job I want based solely on my ability and talent and not because I’m a girl. I don’t want a free ride, I want the job because I’ve earned it and because I’ve worked so hard to get it. — mt
— Motor City Masters airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on truTV. To see Barber’s artwork, check out darbyjeanb.com.
behind-the-scenes at bertone’s concept car studio by benedict redgrove all images courtesy of benedict redgrove
british photographer benedict redgrove has taken a rare look inside the design studio of italian automobile firm bertone. in a distinct artistic approach that highlights geometry, architecture and engineering, redgrove has captured some of the company’s most radical concept cars from the 1960s and 70s — some never seen before — including designs for alfa romeo, lamborghini and lancia. the series of images which was originally commissioned by wallpaper* magazine, exudes a specialty in styling, coachbuilding and manufacturing, with bertone’s vision categorized by abstract angular frameworks, a use of unique materials for standard auto parts and super-sleek interiors built for luxury and functionality.
‘I was allowed to move the cars into areas I found that worked well with the design of both building and car’redgrove tells designboom ‘they very kindly let me drive the lancia stratos prototype which you stepped into via the front glass panel, fell back into the seat, then pulled the steering column between your legs and then pulled the glass front down onto you. it was an amazing thing to behold and extremely hot, like sitting in a gold mobile greenhouse.’
a 1970 lancia stratos zero concept parked outside the studio
redgrove takes an exclusive look within bertone’s design lab
a 1968 alfa romeo carabo
1967 lamborghini marzal
the lamborghini’s glass doors swing upwards instead of out
A Silicon Valley startup just revealed the latest piece of electronic future-tech, a 500hp, all-electric supercar that does zero to 100 faster than a Porsche 911. But the most important part of the Renovo Coupe isn’t cutting-edge at all: It’s that gorgeous body, designed in 1964.
Over at Jalopnik, Damon Lavrinc spoke with the founders of Renovo, getting all the details you’ll want to know about this beast. You’ll find Damon’s full coverage below.
Impressive numbers are great, but no kid ever fogged up a showroom window talking about curb weight. Even more than killer performance, the greatest thing Renovo’s got going for it is that classic body.
Sharp-eyed readers already know it: It’s the Shelby Daytona Coupe, one of the most beautiful and recognisable race cars ever built.
That design, straight out of 1964, was draped essentially un-altered over the Renovo’s 21st century electric car guts. With that gorgeous body, the Renovo Coupe offers something for nearly everyone: Electric car nerdliness for techies, scorching performance for thrill seekers, and a hallowed design for traditionalists.
That’s sort of the gearhead ideal for electric cars: As the technology matures, it opens up a whole world of opportunity to wrap zero-emission electric drivetrains in the beautiful, legendary designs of yesteryear. Not everyone wants to restore a long-neglected classic car by hand; stuff that classic look with a no-maintenance electric powertrain and you might convince a whole new crowd to break away from anonymous me-too-mobiles and embrace zany, unique designs. Hell, Neil Young already did it with his LincVolt, a jaw-droppingly gorgeous 1959 Lincoln Continental now powered by batteries.
There are a lot of caveats and what-ifs that could hobble Renovo before a single car hits the road. The auto industry is tough, and all the good intentions and beautiful designs in the world won’t do squat without a solid business plan. Even if Renovo can manage to hack it, you probably won’t see one in your cul-de-sac: The Coupe is definitely going to be very expensive and have a very limited production run.
Still, most of the electric and alternative-fuel vehicles out there today look like anime golf carts. Even Tesla’s designs, while beautiful, don’t stray too far from the design norms of today. Renovo could blow the doors off the trend of safe, staid, conservative car design (even if the design Renovo is using doesn’t actually belong to Renovo). The potential to shake up the norm is electrifying.
VELLORE: Like in the US, big companies in India should come forward to provide students with better access to technology, components, materials and technical inputs to design cars for competitions. This was the opinion of Dr Dale Alan Wilson, faculty advisor at the Tennessee Technological University (TTU), USA, who interacted with a group of reporters on the sidelines of the one-day international workshop on BAJA SAE-India 2015 at VIT on Saturday.
The professor said TTU had the geographical advantage of being close to the automobile industry hub. Many of the industries such as DENSO, Cummins, which have huge manufacturing facilities, were sponsoring internships for TTU students while promoting the competitions of car designs in a big way.
Since many of the car giants were in the vicinity, the students of TTU had better access to the latest technology in the field of automotive engineering, which is quite a contrast to students in India. Since the car culture is still young in India with highways coming only recently to the country, youngsters here have to catch up with understanding various aspects of car design.
According to him, TTU began promoting BAJA competition activities among the students since 1988 as the local people had a lot of involvement and passion for car design. Three competitions were held in the USA every year, including one for the students of other countries, to design all-terrain vehicles. Around 150 engineering colleges from across the USA were participating in these events every year on a regular basis. The TTU students have won 12 times in the BAJA competitions so far. ‘With this expertise our students have volunteered to train students from India to get them prepared to compete with others, he added.
As we work more on the design aspects of the all-terrain cars, the models designed by students were getting much lighter, stronger, safer and affordable, he noted. These designs were being developed into business models by car companies, he added. The industry-academia interaction was stronger in the USA, which made exchange of ideas, prototyping and validation of designs easier and more focused, he said.
The Swedish car makers’ range is now much more expansive and, in many cases, stylish – although the trademark emphasis on safety always remains.
And if you’re in the market for a family hatchback, you should take a look at the Volvo V40.
With more than 50 different combinations of power, specification and trim available, there is certainly no lack of choice.
I have just been trying the petrol-powered T2 version dressed in the sporty R-Design stylings, with the range-topping Lux Nav equipment package on board.
The efficient 120ps 1.6-litre engine is capable of delivering 53.3mpg on average, with the help of an automatic start/stop system that is standard across the whole range. Not only that, CO2 emissions are also curtailed to just 124g/km, so you’ll pay no road tax in the first year and just £110 a year thereafter.
And running costs are hardly likely to overstretch the average family budget.
The economical performance hasn’t come at the expense of performance on the road, though, and the powerful, sporty looking R-Design trimmings suit the car.
The car felt quick on the road, with an official 0-62mph sprint time of 9.9 seconds, and a top speed of 120mph is more than respectable.
Throttle response on the move was swift and smooth, with the compact six-speed manual
transmission offering plenty of versatility.
The taught R-Design chassis also offers good grip and sharp, nimble handling, while providing a ride that remains on the comfortable side of firm.
The V40 is equally capable in busy town traffic or cruising on the open road.
Other more cosmetic trappings of the R-Design treatment include eye-catching alloys, an exclusive front end featuring a glossy black grille, LED lights and twin tailpipes.
Inside, there are sculpted leather front seats featuring embroidered R-Design logos, a blue digital
instrument cluster and more LED lighting, which can be personalised.
It’s a package that looks hot-hatch enough on the outside to keep dad happy but offers enough space inside for the average family.
Head and leg room are good all round, despite the coupe-style sloping roof, and there is plenty of seat and steering wheel adjustment for the driver to get comfortable. There are also lots of nooks and crannies to store your oddments while on board.
An innovative approach for the rear cup holders sees them flip out of a movable panel in the front of the mid-section of the rear seat, meaning the armrest is still free to be used.
The interior is put together to a high standard and the materials used are all good quality, in keeping with the luxury image that modern Volvo cars aspire to as they ambitiously go head to head with the premium German brands.
The range-topping Lux Nav equipment package also fits the bill, including, as the name suggests, an integrated satellite navigation system and stereo with iPod connectivity and Bluetooth.
There are also electric windows, cruise control, multi-function steering wheel and keyless entry and ignition.
And with Volvo’s proud reputation for safety, you know that you are always going to be well-covered in that department.
The V40 boasts the top five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating and as well as stability and traction control and all the usual airbags, some useful hi-tech safety aids also come as standard.
These include Volvo’s City Safe system, which takes over braking when a front-end collision is
imminent, and the world’s first external airbag, which deploys over the windscreen and bonnet to protect pedestrians.
Optional upgrades, including automatic parking pilot, lane departure and blind-spot warning systems, make the V40 one of the safest cars on the road.
The GM Design Team Car Show though is one of them. The annual event combines classic Pontiac GTOs and Chevrolet Bel Airs with future classic Pontiac Firebirds and current-gen Chevrolet Corvette Stingrays.
Some cars though, such as David Nedock’s custom 1937 Chevrolet sedan with a 557 cubic inch supercharged engine capable of 1,300 horsepower stand out a bit more than others.
“This is my personal hot rod,” said David Nedock, a 65-year-old Southfield resident and owner of hot rod shop Detroit Speedcraft. ”It’s gone through an evolution of changes over 40 years.”
Nedock, who has been building hot rods for 45 years, was one more than 100 vehicles registered for fifth annual car show, which continues until 9 p.m. at the Northwood Plaza on the southwest corner of Woodward and 13 Mile Road in Royal Oak.
“I am definitely involved in cars, have been as a vocation and a hobby my entire life,” Nedock said.“This is a great big car party, how could I not come?”
General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet brand – presenting sponsor of the2014 Woodward Dream Cruise on Saturday – is hosting events, such as the car show, through Saturday.
The 20th annual Woodward Dream Cruise – taking place Saturday — is recognized as the world’s largest one-day classic car event. More than one million visitors and 40,000 antique and classic cars annually attend the event, which stretches 16 miles from 8 Mile Road in Detroit through downtown Pontiac.
Look through the embedded photo gallery above for 60 of the featured vehicles at this year’s GM Design Team Car Show.
Click here for all of the news, photos and video from the 2014 Woodward Dream Cruise.
Spend any time around a group of car designers and youll notice them showing each other their watches.
But Patrick Ayoub has taken that designers love of watches a step further; he and his wife Amy, also a designer, have launched the Detroit Watch Company to design and assemble what they hope are timeless timepieces.
Theres a great correlation between the mechanical timepiece and the car, said Ayoub. Its an engine on your wrist.
And theres the relationship with (auto) racing, he added, noting the historic involvement of TAG Heuer and Rolex in motorsports. Theres a romance there.
Its a great industrial design product, he continued.
The effort in the design of a classic, even timeless timepiece is much like that put into designing a car, he said, and therefore explaining the understanding and the respect of the car designers.
Ayoub has designed cars in the European studios of BMW and Volkswagen, and locally at DaimlerChrysler and ASC. He is creative director at SRG Global, a Tier 1 automotive supplier based in Warren.
Amy Ayoub, whose background is in interior design, works out of Royal Oak as the director of design for New York-based Viacom, the entertainment company that owns MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures and other brands.
Patrick Ayoub, who was born in Montreal and grew up in France, has been designing watches for more than a decade. In 2003, he co-founded the Bozeman Watch Co., named for the city in Montana but, he said, all the work was done in Michigan. In 2010 he sold his interest in that company and started doing watch design for and learning about the internals of watch production from the Maryland-based Towson Watch Co., the experts who four years ago opened Abraham Lincolns pocket watch for the Smithsonians National Museum of American History.
But the Ayoubs wanted to do their own watches. The launch and success of the Detroit-based Shinola brand was encouraging, but we needed a story, Patrick Ayoub said. That story, they discovered, was Detroit itself and a celebration of the citys history.
They launched the Detroit Watch Company in June with three designs the 1701 Edition, named for the year of the founding of the city, and the Pride of Detroit Aviator Edition.
The Ayoubs do the design. The various component parts are produced in Germany, Switzerland and Hong Kong. Patrick does the actual assembly himself (at least for the time being).
The first run of 1701 watches has sold out (at $895 each) but launch-edition Aviators ($795) are available. Deliveries should start in late August, Patrick said.
Additional designs are in the works, including an M1/Woodward sports chronograph as well as watches in a smaller size designed for womens wrists. Those should be in production before the end of the year for holiday sales, Patrick said.
Were considered a micro brand, he said. Detroit Watch anticipates producing only 500 to 1,000 timepieces a year.
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