With a top speed of 400kmh, it is faster than rakish names such as the McLaren F1 (388kmh) and the Koenigsegg CCR 4 (390kmh). And in a race with the Hennessey Venom GT, currently the fastest car in the world, it will be clipped by 35kmh. Yet, for speed demons here, perhaps more impressive than the figures is the fact that the Dendrobium, which debuted at the prestigious Geneva Motor Show last month, is, for one thing – an electric vehicle; and two – it’s birthed in Singapore.
Priced at seven figures, the cars are expected to hit roads by 2020. A successful roll-out will no doubt be a notch in the city state’s ability to innovate, in this case, combining the glamour of speed and design with on-trend sustainability.
ENGINE 4 electric motors
0-100KMH 2.6 seconds
TOP SPEED 400kmh
RANGE ON FULL CHARGE 400km
Says Larissa Tan, CEO of Vanda Electrics, the company behind the hypercar: “The car’s design was always ahead of its time and the technology available in the 1990s hadn’t quite caught up yet. But with the world being more receptive to the idea of zero emission vehicles and with an increased consciousness of e-mobility, it was the perfect opportunity for the Dendrobium (named after a genus of orchids native to Singapore) to come to life.”
The firm has set benchmarks in the electrics mobility sector with fast charging, zero-emission vehicles like the Ant Truck, an all-purpose, electric light commercial truck; and the Motochimp, a snazzy looking electric mini scooter. With its speed, the Dendrobium exists on another level altogether – thanks to automative experts Williams Advanced Engineering.
The brains behind many Formula One successes provided technical support in areas like aerodynamics, vehicle integration and electrifi cation. Says Tan: “It’s not every day that you get to work alongside a world class outfit like Williams. We were on the same page about developing a zero-emission hypercar that would not only embody cutting-edge technology, but also (stay) true to its original design as closely as possible.” The process, from drawing board to concept car took 15 months – a major feat, considering that the average development process of cars can take up to five years.
According to Tan, being able to toe the fine line between functionality and design has set the Dendrobium apart from Eva, Singapore’s first electric car produced by locally manufactured automobile maker Tum Create.
The Dendrobium’s design pays homage to nature with features like sleek curves modelled after picturesque valleys, hazard lights shaped after waterfalls, and a recurring theme of one of nature’s sturdiest shapes— the hexagonal honeycomb shape which is rendered in the form of the car’s buttons, air vents and grilles.
Yet the human element remains at the core of the hypercar’s ethos. For example, the digital dashboard is designed to be in the driver’s line of sight and features dual rear-view displays relaying feeds from wing-mounted cameras.
The car’s ergonomic seats, inspired by fibres of the human muscle, are meant to look like an extension of the human body, while the dials on the dashboard are fitted at an angle facing the driver to allow ease of access – a welcome addition, especially if you need to make split second decisions while revving at 200mph. In addition, the automatic doors and roof, which flare up and down in a synchronized manner, help make the driver’s entry and exit more fluid and fuss-free. “Despite its futuristic vibe, at the heart of this car is the overall human experience. And what we’ve done with the Dendrobium is to put the driver as our focus and then build a car around his or her needs, not the other way around.”
01: CONSCIENTIOUS FITTINGS
In line with Dendrobium’s zero emission vision, the fittings in the car’s interior are from Bridge of Weir Leather Company, which has the lowest carbon footprint among leather makers in the world.
02: QUIET FUEL
Power is derived from a lithium ion battery and electric powertrain technology devised and produced by Vanda Electrics.
03: MAKE AN ENTRANCE
The car’s automatic doors and roof are inspired by the fully bloomed dendrobium, with its synchronized opening mimicking the orchid petals.
04: YOU ARE YOUR CAR
The car seats, designed to mimic muscle, are meant to look like an extension of the human body.
05: LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMP
Fitted with a composite Monocoque chassis and carbon fibre body panels, the hypercar weighs 1,750kg, about 100kg lighter than the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport.
06: INSPIRED BY NATURE
The car’s curves are modelled after valleys and hazard lights are shaped after waterfalls. Buttons, air vents and grilles resemble honeycombs.