Electric Supercars Cater to the Eco-Conscious Ultra-Wealthy

Fully electric vehicles are still a fringe market, but that hasn’t stopped some high-performance automakers from debuting boundary-pushing supercars running solely on electric batteries.

Mike Ramsey, senior research director of automotive and smart mobility at Gartner, told TU-Automotive that when a company plans to launch a new technology, it is just as much work — and maybe more work — to make an economical vehicle than a super car.

“Startups as a rule do not have scale to drive down the cost of production, so each vehicle is a hand-built, high-cost item,” he wrote in an email. “The only way to recover your investment is to offer something people will pay huge sums for — and typically that comes in the form of a super-fast, amazing-looking vehicle.”

This year was a chance for the big players to show off their electric supercar wares. In August, storied German automaker Daimler, maker of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, unveiled the latest high-tech electric supercar vying for the eyeballs (and wallets) of the super-rich, the Vision EQ Silver Arrow.

Conceived as an electric vehicle, with a body made of carbon fiber, the soundless Silver Arrow has an output of 550 kilowatts (kW), equaling about 750 horsepower through a rechargeable battery in the underbody.

The Vision EQ Silver Arrow also comes with an artificial intelligence platform allowing drivers to engage in a virtual race against historic or present Silver Arrow racing cars.

Legendary Italian automotive design firm Pininfarina is also looking to join the rarefied ranks of all-electric supercar makers with the production of the PFO, which could boast a top speed of 250mph and offer a range of more than 300 miles.

Automobili Pininfarina CEO Michael Perschke noted that the PFO would rocket to from to 60mph in about two seconds and have a fast-charging battery that needs just ten to 15 minutes to reach 80% charged.

Designed, developed and produced in the US, Genovation Cars’ GXE claims state-of-the-art batteries, inverters and electric twin-motors, producing more than 700 ft-lbs of torque and is expected to exceed 220mph. In normal driving operation, the car also claims to deliver a range of more than 175 miles on a full battery charge.

The Genovation GXE, available with either a 7-speed manual — unique for an all-electric supercar — or an 8-speed paddle shift automatic transmission, will be produced in a limited-edition run of 75 units, with initial customer deliveries scheduled in mid-2019.

Among the other competitors in the ultra-high-end market are British automaker Aston Martin, which debuted the Lagonda Vision Concept at this year’s Geneva Motor Show. It’s an unabashedly high-end luxury vehicle, complete with silk carpets and carbon fiber trim, that is planned for production in 2021.

The fully electric car, which the company claims has a 400-mile range, features Level 4 autonomous driving, which means the car is capable of driving itself in all normal circumstances and on all recognizable roads.

Another competitor is Tesla’s Roadster, an upcoming all-electric four-seater sports car that CEO Elon Musk said will be capable of 0 to 60mph in 1.9 seconds.

Ferrari and Lamborghini would also eventually build an electric vehicle, Ramsey predicted, noting competitors like Porsche, as well as Aston Martin, are already entering the market.

“It’s only a matter of time,” Ramsey wrote. “Super cars are perfect EVs because performance is fantastic and realistically, the owners aren’t usually driving hundreds of miles a day in a two-seat sports car, so the lack of range and long recharging times isn’t a big concern.”

— Nathan Eddy is a filmmaker and freelance journalist based in Berlin. Follow him on Twitter.

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