The covers have come off Singapore’s first-ever hypercar, the Dendrobium, at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show. The brainchild of Singapore electric mobility company Vanda Electrics, the Dendrobium is a two-seater all-electric sports car concept which features a striking design and a target top speed in excess of 321km/h.
Specialising in battery technology, research, innovation and design, Vanda Electrics is said to be one of Singapore’s leading e-mobility companies. Its revolutionary strategy is to develop a range of global electric products that capitalise on the trend towards zero-emission mobility and focus on three key segments: luxury, consumer and industrial.
With the launch of a fast-charging zero-emission electric light commercial vehicle and electric mini scooter taking place later this year, the company has chosen the 2017 Geneva Motor Show to unveil its most exciting model yet, a high-performance halo product that will sit in the luxury sector.
A project that has resided within the design team for many years, the Dendrobium is finally being realised thanks to the rapid advancements in electrification technology, which allows striking styling to be combined with high-performance compact e-powertrains.
Vanda Electrics’ technical partner on the Dendrobium project is Williams Advanced Engineering, the technology and engineering services division of the Williams Group. The division specialises in a number of core areas that are highly relevant to the Dendrobium, including aerodynamics, lightweight structures, vehicle integration and, of course, electrification. Williams Advanced Engineering has taken the project from the design stage to actual concept car.
Designed by Vanda’s in-house team, the Dendrobium’s remarkable shape incorporates an automatic roof and doors, which open in a synchronised manner, resembling a fully opened dendrobium flower, a genus of orchids native to Singapore.
This unique feature is not just for show either – it also improves access to the cockpit, making ingress and egress easier than other hypercars. The teardrop shape that forms around the cockpit and ends in the tail (where the plug-in port is located, just behind a panel above the charging light which shows the status of the car’s battery) is a design feature that has remained a key part of the Dendrobium from the initial sketches.
Other highlights of the Dendrobium’s exterior are the aerodynamic floor, rear double diffuser and front splitter. At the back, the rear light bar elegantly floats over the tail of the car, and throughout the design there is pure, motorsport-inspired functionality, such as the exposed double-wishbone front and rear suspension.
The motorsport theme is continued in the materials used. In order to meet its target weight of 1750kg, the Dendrobium features a composite monocoque chassis, carbon fibre body panels, carbon ceramic brake discs and lightweight alloy calipers inside 20-inch front and 21-inch rear alloy wheels, wrapped in Michelin high-performance tyres.
Carbon fibre is also used extensively in the interior, fitting with the Dendrobium’s minimalist but functional design brief. Inside, it is immediately obvious that the driver is the absolute centre of attention. He or she enjoys a bright red body-hugging sports seat, which contrasts dramatically with the predominately black interior. Both the driver and co-driver seats feature stitching and motifs inspired by muscle fibres.
The interior of the Dendrobium has been trimmed using leather from Scotland’s Bridge of Weir Leather Company, which sources the best hides from the best heritage breeds and has adopted the very latest technology. The result is the lowest-carbon tannery and leather product in the world – the perfect material for a zero-emission halo model.
Sitting in the driver’s eyeline is a digital dashboard flanked by two rear-view displays, which take feeds from wing-mounted cameras. All of the dashboard buttons are hexagon-shaped, which is a recurring Dendrobium design theme replicated in the air vents, front grille and headlight bezels.
Although strictly a concept car at this stage, the Dendrobium has performance targets – top speed in excess of 321km/h and 0-100km/h in 2.7 seconds. The project will feature the latest lithium-ion battery and electric powertrain technology, calling on Vanda Electrics’ own expertise and, of course, that of technical partner Williams Advanced Engineering.
The Grove-based organization is an electrification world-leader. It is currently the sole battery supplier to Formula E and an electric motor and e-powertrain integration expert thanks to its pioneering F1-bred hybrid systems and its key role in the rapid development of the Jaguar C-X75 supercar.
Should the Dendrobium go into production, a layout featuring two inboard-mounted electric motors per axle, with a single-speed gearbox and differential at the front and a multi-speed gearbox and differential at the rear, is envisaged.
If Vanda Electrics receives enough positive interest at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, the first model is expected to hit the road by 2020.
Larissa Tan, Vanda Electrics CEO, said: “Dendrobium is the culmination of a dream. Our design team has had sketches of an electric hypercar on the drawing board since the mid-90s, but that vision was many years ahead of its time. As electric technology has advanced, we have been able to revisit this vision and now, as we launch our revolutionary global e-mobility strategy, the timing is finally right for us to take the wraps off a halo model. We are looking forward to seeing the world’s reaction to Dendrobium. This electric hypercar may just be a concept for now, but we have every intention of putting it into production.”
We talked to Vanda Electrics’ chief executive about the Dendrobium.