Alieno Arcanum: What's going on with the 5,221-hp Bulgarian Batmobile?
Everyone's favorite Bulgarian electric ultracar company Alieno has unveiled the all-singing, all-dancing, all-robotic interior of its fantastical Arcanum – which, you'll remember, makes up to 5,221 horsepower and 8,880 Nm (6,550 lb-ft) of torque.
When we first encountered the Alieno Arcanum back in 2018, we were blown away. Not only by these utterly ludicrous specs, but by the sheer audacity of the promises in the press release. The Arcanum would make two and a half times as much power as the Lotus Evija (currently the most powerful production car in the world). It would make about three and a half times the torque you'd expect from a logging truck.
It would rock one of the biggest batteries ever seen in an electric car, a 180-kWh pack offering a range of 1,020 km (634 mi). It would charge at up to 2.7 megawatts, filling the battery from 0-100 percent in four minutes, if you bought the special DC charging station option and had your own direct high voltage cable to a power plant that could be warned in advance.
It would pull in vast streams of data from 17 cameras, a LiDAR, 8 radars, and all manner of other sensors. Everything on the car would be "robotic," from the suspension to the active carbon aeros, to the brakes, the air con, the seats, the pedals, the steering column, the steering itself, you name it. And despite its alleged 303-mph (488-km/h) top speed, the Chief Test Pilot and Chief Sales officer proclaimed "the car is the safest one on the road in any term."
All this from a brand new company based in Tuhovishta, Bulgaria. I ran the address of the company's HQ through Google Maps, and the closest that Street View could get me was a lumpy dirt road on the outskirts of a tiny, ramshackle rural village near the Greek border. Google hadn't sent a camera car through town since 2012.
Alieno's Facebook feed gives us a better view of the property as the company acquired it in 2019. Otherwise, the feed is just about equally split between renders of the Arcanum and photos of industrial equipment, from front-end loaders, excavators and forklifts to industrial robots, plasma cutters, cherrypickers and a pair of giant autoclaves. There are photos of the production halls under construction (yikes). Founder Ahmed Merchev pops his face up in many of them.
Here's Merchev taking you on a 10-minute guided tour of the first completed production hall, stuffed to the gills with production robots and equipment.
I'm not going to pretend I have any idea what's going on here, but Alieno is an absolutely fascinating rabbit hole to go down into. There's clearly something happening in Tuhovishta, whatever it might be. I am mesmerized.
In 2018, I made a promise to upload a video of myself doing the robot dance if the Arcanum hit the street by its projected date of January 10, 2021. I think we're all safe from that outcome at this stage, but Merchev is certainly assembling quite a battalion of robots and other equipment, and I'm starting to get a sneaking suspicion he might actually be serious about building something.
Today, we received word that the interior has been designed, every bit as outrageous and sci-fi as the rest of the thing, with Chief Design Officer Encho Enchev citing Avatar and Prometheus as inspirations. "We want our customers to feel like they are in the cockpit of a spaceship," says Enchev, and yep, mission accomplished on that one.
Witness the glowing blue displays. The robotic carbon seats and their race harnesses. The two cup holders, optionable up to four, with heating or cooling built in. Alieno has noticed the disappointing lack of cup holders in other hypercars, and this company is willing to be the change it wishes to see in the world.
There'll be memory foam, leather, Alcantara, you name it, all draped over pre-preg carbon fiber shapes produced in those massive autoclave cylinders. There'll be a descending glove box and luggage space. There'll be multi-touch screens all over the place, adaptive LED lighting, digital mirrors, OTA updates, and lift-up butterfly-wing doors. There'll be room for gigantic 6.56-ft (200-cm) drivers, and a voice control system called "The Alien."
What's more, this is merely the default interior. Alieno is promising to release several others, be they as futuristic as this one or more "moderate and classic designs." Customers can pick the cabin they like when they slap down their €750,000 to €1.5 million (US$880,000 to $1,760,000) to pre-order the car. You better believe they're taking pre-orders now, and the company is also unsurprisingly looking for investors.
Merchev is candid in his own statement, which we'll reproduce in full: "The interior of our Alieno Arcanum hypercar, like its exterior, expresses clearly the mission of Alieno to create hypercars with alien technologies from the future into the present. For this purpose, although with some delays due to the still insufficient foreign investments in Alieno, the last 2 years we are making significant progress with the construction and expansion of our production factory in Tuhovishta, Bulgaria, which at this initial stage, is located on an area of nearly 15,000 square meters.
"We have already bought and delivered there not only all major production machines, but also the necessary construction and transport machines for its construction and expansion. The production of the Alieno hypercars is based on Scholz autoclaves for composite materials, Kuka 6-axis industrial robots and several other high-tech machines, which we have already delivered to our factory.
"For their final installation in production mode, we are currently organizing the construction for them of huge specialized production halls with a total built-up area of about 12 000 square meters, in which the initial production of Alieno hypercars will take place.
"We are building the Alieno brand from scratch, moreover in Bulgaria, which is why we meet a lot of skepticism, but also a lot of like-minded people, thanks to whom we are moving forward boldly and confidently. We already accept pre-orders for our Arcanum model. You can also support us by becoming an investor in the company. There are interesting times ahead in the hypercars segment, given that Alieno has raised the bar very high, and that can only make us happy."
We're certainly still skeptical; building a production car at all is a bloody hard job, let alone building one so much nuttier than anything that has come before it. The founder's experience in entrepreneurship seems to extend to Blisstool - a company selling metal detectors - and Kibertron, a project that promised the construction of a humanoid robot "which shall have an intellect, autonomy, structure, dimensions, kinematics and dynamics similar to those of the human being." Whoa.
Reading on, the Kibertron was designed to "continuously evaluate not only his position in space and time, but also his probability position in the 5th dimension." It wouldn't use any conventional microprocessors, instead relying on a "Chaotic Logic Computer ... Based on meta-mathematics" and designed to evolve its own super-intellect by dealing with "similar objects" which "can't be described with numbers, but which are the source for the concept for the numbers." A fine serve of mumbo-jumbo there, to go along with some outrageously massive promises about something robotic. How'd that one go?
Kibertron was founded in 2002, it participated in several conferences. It set up offices in Sofia, Bulgaria, complete with "impressive cabinet." It placed in some awards. In April 2007, it put out the news that it had "started the design of Kibertron Laboratories building, a new complex building which shall accommodate in the future the research laboratories and pilot production of the subsystems of the Kibertron robot and the integration of the first prototype of the robot." There are only a few news releases after 2007: brief one-line celebrations of 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 years of the Kibertron project. Even these stopped in 2012. To date, we're not aware of any super-intelligent robot.
We're not saying the Arcanum won't happen, folks. Indeed, as we said last time, we'd love to see something this berserk make it through to production, putting the small town of Tuhovishta on the map, creating a ton of jobs and proving that great things can indeed come from humble beginnings. But we'd sure suggest you do a ton of due diligence before sending Alieno your millions, however many bits of machinery Ahmed Merchev takes selfies with.
Source: Alieno Hypercars
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It's easy to ridicule something so outlandishly unnecessary, but the familiar adage applies here: I'll believe it when I see it. Meanwhile, can you spare a few million euros bro?