Last weekend Silicon Valley startup Renovo Motors demonstrated a prototype of its Coupe, the “first all-electric American supercar,” at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, touting it as competitive against gas cars.
Weighing in at a Corvette-like 3,250 pounds – 1,600 pounds less than a Tesla Model S P90D but 350 pounds heavier than a Tesla Roadster – the two-passenger updated replica of a classic Shelby design packs a mid-mounted “over 500” horsepower electric drivetrain.
Also lighter than some Teslas will be buyer’s wallets as reports have been this fine-crafted beauty could fetch in the ballpark of half a million dollars from well-heeled EV connoisseurs wanting that something special to show off or race without excuses.
No lap times were reported at a “Founders Drive” event, and the validation run was more a test of some systems, and photo op.
The Coupe is however an EV to be reckoned with on twisty circuits as evidenced by a statement quoting event organizer, investor and technology veteran Joshua Schachter who invited Renovo to demonstrate the Coupe prototype.
“Our event is about connecting entrepreneurs through a love of cars, and we’re always looking for ways to challenge and inspire each other. We try to break down stereotypes about track driving, and an EV that can hang with gas supercars at Laguna Seca is certainly a surprise to a lot of people,” said Schachter. “I’m really glad the Renovo team was able to participate this weekend, and I know the paddock thoroughly enjoyed it too.”
Zero to 60 in “less than 3.4 seconds” is advertised as “the quickest production rear-wheel drive electric vehicle in the world,” and indeed this is ahead of Tesla’s 4.2 seconds estimate for the all-wheel-drive 85D, its 3.7-second Roadster, and not far behind the 3.1 seconds for the P85D.
But Renovo certainly is not drawing comparisons to these cars as does Aston Martin’s CEO Andy Palmer who speaks of a hyper EV it wants to build above Tesla. Palmer said it too will be track-worthy and balanced, though it will offer “legacy” while not not stooping to modes to garner top 0-60 bragging rights.
“We don’t do Ludicrous because Ludicrous speed is stupid,” said Aston’s Palmer of Tesla’s P90D quickest drive mode. “I think that the fact that you could drive a few laps of a decent race course or race it around the Nordschleife [racetrack] is much more interesting than doing 500 meters in Ludicrous mode.”
Renovo on the other hand is not a storied British ultimate car maker. It is a “a Silicon Valley transportation technology company,” a lot like Tesla, though its creation may leapfrog even Aston’s quarter million asking price by quite a margin, and it may be even more track-worthy, though that remans to be seen.
The Renovo Coupe’s “more than 1,000” pounds-feet of torque packaged in the 120-mph top speed classic body also boasts balance and poise by coming at least a bit closer in the electric car world to Lotus designer’s famed maxim: “Simplify, then add lightness.”
At least the “add lightness” part is there, and maybe also “simplify” is too though computer software and hardware are well beyond the imagination of Chapman decades ago.
The 3,250-pound weight is not super light by competition gas car standards, but is in the ballpark of other streetgoing supercars.
In basic terms, light weight means less kinetic energy to manage in corners. So, a determined driver may also push the car faster through every turn enabling a better lap time.
Absent also from modern supercars appears to be much in the way of ground effects to create downforce, though the body itself is said to be ideal, and meanwhile light weight is at least half the battle.
The conspicuous drive alongside numerous other exotic vehicles around the world signals intent that the Coupe will be something special.
“An incredible thank you goes out to Joshua and his team for inviting us to test the Coupe at this special event. Since its introduction last year at Pebble Beach, the Coupe has set new standards in vehicle performance and engineering. Our team has spent countless hours refining its capabilities, and the test this past weekend is a great way for us to share our work,” said Christopher Heiser, CEO of Renovo Motors. “This shakedown run for us focused on validating some new systems and gathering detailed telemetry from the nearly 1,000 sensors on the car. Even running at 70 percent pace, the Coupe was very settled, very fast and continues to exceed our expectations.”