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$100K target for new electric Aussie sportscar

Born-again Australian roadster revealed as low-cost Arcspeed all-electric supercar

ArcSpeed logo4 Nov 2011

By DAVID HASSALL

AUSTRALIA could have a second locally produced electric-powered sportscar on sale by early 2013 in the form of the Sydney-built Arcspeed Sports.

Following last week’s unveiling of the Brisbane-developed mid-engined Varley EVR450 – to be launched in January with a price of less than $200,000 – comes news that the open-top Arcspeed should be on the market in little more than a year, priced below $100,000.

The car has been designed and engineered in the Sydney suburb of Hornsby by Ian Denner, whose well-established Classic Revival business also produces Cobra and Ferrari GTO replicas.

Mr Denner produced the car’s body in 2006 – complete with Honda Integra Type R running gear – with the idea of producing it in limited numbers, but supply problems left the project still-born without a single car being sold.

It has been revived with an electric drivetrain developed by fellow Arcspeed co-founders Keith White and Jaron Ware.

Mr Ware is an electrical engineer who is on the national executive of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association.

Mr White is new to the automotive industry but said he has a strong background in technology development and commercialisation, primarily in the telecommunications industries, as well as computer engineering.

204 center imageThe three directors have invested between $350,000 and $500,000 on the project and are now talking to “major investors” about putting the car into production, including interested parties from overseas.

Mr White told GoAuto he was confident of getting the car to market at half the price of electric sportscars like the Varley and the Tesla Roadster, which is priced at $222,995 driveaway in NSW.

“Our goal has been to sell the car for less than $100,000 – and we think we can achieve that,” said Mr White.

“As far as going on sale, our goal would be for an early 2013 production release.” Arcspeed has released few technical details about the car – a prototype of which is being used for testing but is not registered.

The prototype uses the same 522Nm motor as the Varley, though this may change for the production model, and the 3.2-volt battery pack consists of 500 individual lithium-ion phosphate batteries mounted in the cockpit floor. The motor is located at the rear axle.

The company claims its open-top ‘supercar’ will accelerate from 0-100km/h in 3.8 seconds – the same time as the scissor-doored Varley coupe.

Mr White has been vocal on internet blogs recently defending the company and the origins of the car, claiming the Varley is based on a British kit car and the Tesla is essentially a Lotus Elise converted to electric propulsion.

“The Arcspeed Sports was not produced in a backyard garage,” wrote Mr White on the AutoBlogGreen website.

“It was developed and built by professional motor and EV electrical engineers it is not a converted ICE (internal combustion engine) or electrically enabled kit car.

“It was designed and hand-built – from the ground up – in a professional workshop, among other high-value, hand-built sportscars.” However, GoAuto revealed the car in March 2006 – when it was called the CR4 and was powered by a four-cylinder Integra Type R 2.0-litre engine – which Mr Denner planned to sell for $68,000. Production was set at 25 units a year, but problems with Honda stopped the project.

The single bright-yellow CR4 that Mr Denner produced, which also employed the gearbox, suspension and brakes from Honda’s hot coupe, was turned into the EV prototype with a suitably modified chassis.

Presented now as the Arcspeed Sports, the roadster wears the same Mazda3 headlights and Toyota Supra tail-lights as it did six years ago.

Clearly built on racing lines and sporting a steel spaceframe chassis with an aluminium skin bonded and riveted to the frame, the car is designed as “a high-performance road sportscar that can also be driven on specialised track days for racing enthusiasts in the emerging electric car racing categories”.

It has no proper windows or wipers, just a low Porsche Speedster-style wind deflector.

The company claims it is also being developed in left-hand drive for export.

Mr White further revealed that the company is “exploring the development of a small ‘Range-Extending Trailer’ – not especially sexy I know, but extremely practical at least – with additional batteries and a small 5KvA turbine generator for longer journeys”.

Although Mr White said the prototype is still being evolved on a weekly basis.

“Arcspeed do not require a vehicle manufacturing licence because each Arcspeed Sports will be an Individually Constructed Vehicle under the ADRs (Australian Design Rules) – and certification as such is in process,” wrote Mr White.

“The Arcspeed Sports is a very cleverly designed piece of advanced Australian electric vehicle engineering.

“The car is somewhat minimalistic – that is part of its unique charm and purposely a part of its design – but it has some major technological innovations underneath its shiny composite skin … yet to be revealed.

“Getting any innovative project off the ground in Australia is a challenge – some might say next to impossible – and with significant overseas interest already we may we be better off moving offshore.

“Of course, without investor and customer interest, it will most certainly drift into obscurity, but (unfortunately for me) if it does, it will be taking a large chunk of directors’ funds with it.

“There has been no external investment in this project to date and any investment funds that we take will be solely for the purpose of executing on our plans.” The Arcspeed utilises an iPad as the centre stack information screen for controlling the in-car entertainment, internet and satellite-navigation wirelessly, and an LCD touch-screen is used for the instrumentation in front of the driver.

“The Arcspeed Sports is destined to showcase Australian electric vehicle design and engineering, which will establish the benchmark for future electric sportscars across the world, bringing affordable electric sportscar performance back into the reach of everybody,” said an Arcspeed press release.

“Arcspeed has combined the experience of Australia’s leading individual sportscar builders along with leading electrical vehicle engineering expertise to produce Australia’s first, truly unique, all-electric sportscar.”

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