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Joss supercar pleads for public funds

Crowd pleaser: Joss Developments founder Matt Thomas wants to raise $480,000 to build a track racer based on his as yet unseen JP-1 production car.

A lack of investment interest turns Joss founder to alternative revenue-raiser

Joss logo25 Aug 2014

By BARRY PARK

AN AUSTRALIAN supercar start-up has turned to crowdsourcing in an attempt to build a track-ready vehicle that will pave the way for a full production series.

Joss Developments, a Melbourne-based company founded by automotive engineer Matt Thomas, has been trying to find financial backers to build the mid-engined JP-1 supercar since shortly after the first sketches of the low-slung scissor-door coupe appeared in 1996.

However, the development of an expensive prototype and a number of failed attempts to find an overseas partner willing to pour money into the project means Joss has now turned to an alternative source of money normally reserved for technology start-ups.

Mr Thomas is seeking $480,000 by October to build a $600,000 track version of the JP-1, which will help him set the project up for a run of four more track-only vehicles.

“The first five vehicles are to be built and sold as track specials, which will allow their owners to experience the most extreme performance parameters while demonstrating the abilities and agility of the vehicle, and showcasing a unique and individual vehicle,” Mr Thomas’s listing on Kickstarter said.

“Visually, these first five vehicles will be based on the JOSS JP1 design ...

but with much more aggressive styling.

“We anticipate a top speed of 340km/h and acceleration from 0–100km/h in or around 3.0 seconds – with performance that will be akin to Le Mans or GT race cars.”

Mr Thomas said money from the sale of the first five cars would be used to “develop the vehicles to comply with the small manufacturer compliance criteria in the UK, which will open the doors to road use of the Joss in many European countries”.

“Once cash flow positive, we intend to broaden the reach of the vehicle further to offer a completely global, road compliant version which will form the cornerstone of our company’s product range,” he said.

“The Kickstarter capital raise of $480,000 will not only allow us to build the first Joss track car but even more importantly, fund the final engineering, design and overall development, which will then allow us to take successive orders and deliver to our customers.”

Investors can jump on board the JP-1 project for as little as $5, for which they will receive a personal thank-you email from Mr Thomas, as well as updates on how the project is progressing towards its April 2015 deadline for building the first car.

By pledging $8000 to the project, investors will be invited on a two-lap high-speed run in the JP-1 after the completed car is revealed in November 2015.

“Our brief, and our intention, is to develop a high-end competitor in the ever growing track day car segment, co-habiting with the likes of million dollar-plus brands such as McLaren, Pagani, Ferrari, Porsche and Koenigsegg, yet at a more economical cost to the customer,” Mr Thomas said.

“Our car will be lightweight and will be very efficient as a track car due to its large power to weight ratio and extreme levels of both mechanical and aerodynamic grip.

“This car will not be road legal due to its overall package being based solely on the best track performance available but Joss then aims to produce a road legal version in the not too distant future – based on this very car.”

Mr Thomas, an automotive design modeller who claims experience with Bentley, BMW, Aston Martin, Jaguar and the Stewart Grand Prix Formula One team, floated the idea of selling his original concept car several years ago for about $1 million to help fund the next stage of the car’s development.

The production JP-1 will be made from a carbon-fibre skin wrapped around a spaceframe chassis, and powered by an all-alloy 5.0-litre V8 producing 420kW/560Nm sending drive to the rear wheels via an Albins transaxle gearbox similar to the one used in the V8 Supercars series.

Joss plans to build the JP-1 to 900 kilograms, with a 0-100km/h sprint of just 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 340km/h.

According to the project, the Joss JP-1 will use “approximately four patentable components/systems” that will be unique to the vehicle.

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