“Singapore’s First” Hypercar Is an EV with Insane Doors, 1500 hp, and an Amazingly Cool Rear Wing


“Singapore’s First” Hypercar Is an EV with Insane Doors, 1500 hp, and an Amazingly Cool Rear Wing

Mar 31, 2017

It’s hard not to love an EV concept car that features a motorized door-and-roof combo that apparently was inspired by the opening of a rare orchid. Yet the Vanda Dendrobium, which has just taken its bow at the 2017 Geneva auto show, is targeting production reality, billing itself as Singapore’s “first ever hypercar.”

Ordinarily we might file such claims in the folder marked Polite Skepticism, but the involvement of British racing outfit Williams does lend the project a much-needed measure of credence. The concept was constructed by Williams Advanced Engineering, sister business to the eponymous Formula 1 team, and the organization that created Jaguar’s aborted CX-75 hybrid supercar as well as the battery pack that currently powers the Formula E grid. While the show car is indeed a one-off, we’re assured there is serious ambition to turn it into limited-run reality.

Vanda Dendrobium

Vanda Electrics, a Singaporean company that describes itself as an electrical mobility supplier, has previously created an electric minibike called the Motochimp. The company has commissioned the Dendrobium, the name coming from a Singapore-native orchid that apparently opens in the same way as the car’s synchronized door and roof unfastening. CEO Larissa Tan said Vanda’s parent company, Wong Fong Industries, has been looking to create an electric hypercar concept for nearly two decades but has been waiting for the available technology to catch up with its ambitions. We’re told that, if built, the production car would have all-wheel drive, a total power output of about 1500 horsepower, and a targeted zero-to-60-mph time of about 2.6 seconds and a top speed of 200 mph.

Sadly, the concept can’t match up to those numbers. Williams’s Ian Cluett, who led development, admitted that, although capable of motivating itself at a respectable clip, the car is nowhere close to those numbers. It uses a single electrical motor of unspecified output to drive the rear wheels and is powered by a modified Formula E battery pack.

Vanda Dendrobium

The striking design is the work of a team based in Singapore, and it features a recurring honeycomb motif. Having seen the car up close at Williams’s England HQ, we can confirm that in person it looks like a cross between a sports prototype and one of the anti-gravity racing pods from the original Wipeout video game. It’s built around a central carbon-fiber tub with metal subframes carrying a control-arm suspension at each end, and the battery pack is mounted behind the passenger compartment. Although it hasn’t been in a wind tunnel yet, Cluett said, the wedgy form has been subject to intensive CFD computer modeling that confirms that it should indeed work at speed. The rear wing also doubles as a full-width taillight—probably our favorite design detail.

The doors are rear hinged and power operated, working in conjunction with the power-lifting central roof panel, which does make it slightly easier to climb in. The cabin is predictably tight-fitting, and the seating position feels too high for a supercar. Most surfaces are finished in naked carbon fiber. The six-sided switchgear continues the honeycomb design theme. There’s a digital instrument cluster and twin display screens for a functioning rearview-camera system (because of the height of the rear structure, there’s no rear glass).

If the production version does happen—interest is being gauged at the Geneva show and other events this year—then we’re told to expect the Dendrobium to come with a seven-figure price, which should certainly help ensure exclusivity, especially if it was pitched against pure electric hypercars from established players such as McLaren. If this car does go ahead, it looks likely that Williams would be charged with engineering it and maybe even producing it.


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