For post-apoc­a­lyp­tic rac­ing

Aus­tralia first gave the world the windy wash­ing line, now there’s this so­lar-pow­ered sports car

The Witness - Wheels - - ELECTRIC - AL­WYN VIIJJOEN

FIRST there was the Stella Lux, a car de­signed by a group of Dutch stu­dents to be pow­ered by the sun, which Wheels dubbed the most im­por­tant automotive de­vel­op­ment this cen­tury.

Now there is the Im­mor­tus, a car that aims to take the some­what rough and ready ef­fort by the stu­dents from the Eind­hoven Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy a step fur­ther with be­spoke lux­ury.

Built by the Mel­bourne-based elec­tric ve­hi­cle tech­nol­ogy startup EVX, the Im­mor­tus forms part of the new out­fit’s vi­sion “to make self-pow­er­ing cars the fu­ture of trans­porta­tion”.

CEO Barry Nguyen states on the EVX web­site that the Im­mor­tus was inspired by postapoc­a­lyp­tic movies and de­signed to ex­hibit a tough­ness that no other car has.

“The abil­ity to run on the power of the sun and store the energy for later use make it a car of prac­ti­cally in­fi­nite en­durance. As long as the sun shines, the Im­mor­tus lives,” said EVX.

For now, how­ever, the team of 11 work­ers, lead by a for­mer phys­io­ther­a­pist, a de­sign engi­neer and in­tel­lec­tual-prop­erty lawyer, aims to sell “lim­ited num­bers” of their be­spoke so­lar-pow­ered pas­sen­ger sports cars as well as af­ford­able af­ter­mar­ket automotive prod­ucts to con­vert petrol cars into plug-in hy­brid ve­hi­cles.

Look­ing good, on pa­per

The so­lar-pow­ered sports car has a power to weight ra­tio of 40 kW to 250 kg, with space for two peo­ple and their hand lug­gage. Fully laden, it can take its fiveme­tre-long body from 0-100 km/h in less than seven sec­onds, which should be good to out­run most zom­bies. But that is not all. “The ad­vanced aero­dy­nam­ics and chas­sis de­sign al­low it to feel and drive like a truly nim­ble and bal­anced sports car.”

It has a com­bined bat­tery and so­lar range of over 550 km at an av­er­age of 85 km/h and a top speed of over 150 km/h

EVX says that depend­ing on the con­di­tions, the Im­mor­tus can run on an un­lim­ited range on so­lar alone at over 60 km/h.

The devil in the de­tail

What EVX does not say is how the Im­mor­tus’s bat­ter­ies will re­main im­mor­tal in a world where Char­l­ize Theron looka­likes roam in fig­ure-hug­ging leather. (We all get to choose our own postapoc­a­lyp­tic fu­tures, okay?)

As Toy­ota has now re­peat­edly stated as part of its cam­paign to ex­plain the com­pany’s about­turn on de­vel­op­ing elec­tric cars, bat­ter­ies will, for the next decade at least, re­main the Achilles heel in the evees, giv­ing their own­ers shorter and shorter ranges. But who knows, in the next Mad Max se­quel, Im­mor­tan Joe may turn out as a gang­ster made good, and choose to drive around in the Im­mor­tus, rather than that methanol-smok­ing sko­rokoro in the cur­rent movie. Its post-apoc­a­lyp­tic vi­sion aside, EVX does have more re­al­is­tic goods to sell, de­vel­oped while de­sign­ing the tech­nol­ogy plat­form for the Im­mor­tus. These in­clude:

• a hy­brid retro-fit kit con­cept that en­ables cur­rent petrol cars, light trucks and fleet ve­hi­cles to be con­verted from petrol pow­ered to plug-in hy­brid. In ad­di­tion, the mo­tor makes the car go faster and turns it into a four­wheel drive;

• a light­weight, air-cooled bat­tery box with multi-in­dus­try ap­pli­ca­tions; and • re­gen­er­a­tive shock-ab­sorber tech­nol­ogy that recharges bat­ter­ies from ab­sorb­ing the bumps on the road with multi-in­dus­try ap­pli­ca­tions.

“The hy­brid retro-fit kit con­cept has re­cently at­tracted in­ter­est from a prom­i­nent Mel­bourne-based OEM auto parts man­u­fac­turer. This is a promis­ing sign for EVX, which is poised to dis­rupt the $34 bil­lion af­ter­mar­ket parts and $9 tril­lion global auto in­dus­tries. We look for­ward to ex­hibit­ing at the Sema trade show to de­velop new global part­ner­ships, seek fur­ther cus­tomer feed­back and at­tract pre­sales for our break­through prod­ucts,” said Nguyen.

He adds that the com­pany is look­ing for in­vestors. He said the global cus­tom car and spe­cialty equip­ment mar­ket is es­ti­mated to be worth $33 bil­lion, and de­mand for elec­tric cars glob­ally “is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing fast growth, hit­ting 740 000 ve­hi­cles sold in 2014”. Depend­ing on spec, the Im­mor­tus will sell for over R4,7 mil­lion.

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PHOTO: SUPPLIED, EVX

The Im­mor­tus, a so­lar-pow­ered car with which Aus­tralian-based com­pany EVX thinks you can dice Im­mor­tan Joe if the Mad Max movies be­come re­al­ity … naah, we don’t think so ei­ther.

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