At the Geneva Motor Show last year another electric supercar was announced: the Dendrobium D1 – from Singapore. A year (and a bit) has passed and I thought it would be good to see what the current status is.
The company behind this supercar is Vanda Electrics, a company that is unwittingly aiming to replicate the evolution of Reliant Cars from the UK and I wrote about them recently. Both companies started out with light commercial vehicles before adding in a sports model.
Vanda Electrics have two products already: the Ant truck (a name that Reliant also used for a light truck) and the motochimp, both are strange looking vehicles with electric power and I have seen plenty of press about them however I cannot see too many sales outlets! They have headquarters in Singapore and a facility in Shenzen, China and a tie up with Williams Engineering.
This is where the Dendrobium comes in. It is a supercar by design and is certainly generating the media coverage the company desires. A single prototype was constructed across 2 continents and this first example is powered by a single electric motor although the plan is to have 2 motors for a “production” version.
The prototype has a carbon fibre tub with aluminium subframes front and rear to hold the mechanicals. Weight is expected to be about 1,750 kg and the company is cagey about power output or other specifications relating to performance other than they expect it to do the 0-100km/h sprint in 2.7 seconds. This is probably due to not finalising the power options yet.
The date for the start of production is estimated to be 2020 and a Williams representative said that the original sketches were drawn up over 10 years ago by Vanda, with their input starting in 2016. However, the Dendrobium is available for sale – as a scale model! One dealer has been appointed to sell the real thing in Singapore when it finally gets to production. Reports also differ on how many would be built with some suggesting that only a handful would be built for sale at over $3,000,000 each. At that volume, one wonders if it is really worth the effort. Other reports from Singapore suggested that the output would be “less than 100”.
There are other electric supercars being developed and with Tesla, Karma Automotive and others forging ahead with their own designs, the Dendrobium may be too late by the time it arrives. What I find interesting is how Vanda are financing the whole company. They have three products, low production volumes and have contracted one of the top engineering firms to help develop their flagship car. The cashflow looks to be one way only – plenty of expenses but minimal income.
The company claims that so far they have spent over $5,000,000 in developing the Dendrobium with initially no intention of building or selling a single one! They just wanted to showcase what they could do. Somebody, maybe the financier, has suggested that they should sell a batch considering that they may not be selling their bread and butter products in any volume at the moment!
Current issues to be resolved include the crash testing and deciding on the battery and motor combination. This last one is interesting as this is an area that is evolving at a tremendous rate and could mean that the car ends up like the MCV CH4, where every time it is seen it will have a new power source.
By the way, the name is taken from an orchid – something that Vanda believes that their car looks like.