Tesla is moving on to smaller, quicker things, but the fight to unseat the Model S as the world's supreme electric sedan rages on. And it consists largely of startups you've never heard of before and may very well never hear about again after the first time reading their names. Faraday Future. Leeco. Lucid Motors. You can add LVCHI Auto to the list after its coming out at the Geneva Motor Show, where the Shanghai-based newcomer showed off its sharp, coach-doored 992-hp four-door fastback, the Venere. Could this be the new standard in electric sports sedans?
The foundation of the Venere design is its frame construction, a carbon fiber honeycomb sandwich fabricated carefully to provide just the right torsional and flexural rigidity while keeping weight as low as possible. LVCHI mentions it even before more exciting, attention-grabbing details about the motors and performance, so you know it's vital.
The frame incorporates the roof as a structural element to gain just the right amount of strength and integrity. Its lightweight design helps keep total vehicle weight at 4,630 lb (2,100 kg), a few hundred pounds under the Model S P100D's 4,941-lb (2,241-kg) curb weight despite the extra pair of motors. We chose the Model S flagship for comparison because it has similar battery and acceleration numbers to the Venere.
The car draped over top of the carbon sandwich frame benefits from the smooth hand of Italian design. LVCHI teamed with Turin's IDEA Institute in July of last year, bringing the Venere to life from a blank sheet. The 203-in (5,150-mm) four-door has beautiful proportions, the short hood quickly ceding to the long, flowing cabin that drops gently back in silky-smooth fastback style ending abruptly at the sharp crease of the trunk area. The slash-angle rear-end adds a touch of aggression, and the voluminous rear fenders give that aggression added credibly.
If looks were sole judge, we'd say the Venere would be the best Tesla-killer effort yet, smoother and sexier than the Model S itself. But, of course, we need more than just a pretty face, starting with the right powertrain. LVCHI has its ducks in a row there, too, dropping dual motors on each axle and powering the Venere up with 992 hp and 1,136 lb-ft of torque. Front and rear differentials with two-speed transmissions help to distribute the precise amount of torque and power to each wheel in a high-performance AWD layout.
Those motors can send the Venere slingshotting forward from 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 2.5 seconds. LVCHI fancies top speed at 177 mph (285 km/h), and it reckons the sleek, carbon-framed Venere can drive for up to 405 miles (652 km) on a single charge of its 100-kWh lithium-ion battery.
Controlling all that e-motive power is certain to be a pleasure, and it becomes a double pleasure when you realize that the interior is every bit as smooth and striking as its exterior. The all-digital design keeps driver and passenger engaged with a full slate of displays, while the angled tunnel serves as a touchscreen control center, eliminating the hard knobs and switches for things like climate control, audio and seating adjustments.
The entire dashboard is also digital, starting with the rear-view screen located driver's left, recessing its way behind the steering wheel into the instrument cluster, sweeping out and over a tunnel-topping central display, and stretching across to the passenger side. Even the steering wheel-based controls are mini touchscreens.
LVCHI plans to begin Venere production in Turin next year. Further expansion plans call for a city car, SUV, MPV platforms, and a second high-performance sedan called the Urano. The Urano was actually previewed in Shanghai in January.
Usually we're fairly ambivalent about a new electric car startup promising the world – we certainly don't root against them, but we're numb to the fact that we may never hear their name uttered in a serious way again. That said, we're definitely rooting for LVCHI to keep it all together and move forward as planned. The Venere won't likely play anywhere near the Model S price range, but it would be a gorgeous and exciting addition to the electric vehicle market, nonetheless.
Source: LVCHI Auto
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