Singapore firm to build e-supercar

The Dendrobium supercar is named after an orchid genus.
The Dendrobium supercar is named after an orchid genus. PHOTO: VANDA ELECTRICS

A Singapore SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) is teaming up with an F1 engineering giant to make an electric supercar called Dendrobium.

With an initial investment of $10 million over the first two years, Vanda Electrics - a unit of family- owned Wong Fong Engineering Works - expects the two-door, two-seater hard-top named after an orchid to be ready for next year's Geneva Motor Show.

Wong Fong says Vanda Electrics has already secured funding from Titan Capital, a United States-based lender.

The $10 million will just be to get the first unit of the carbon-fibre aluminium car ready for the show, which will be held in March next year.

Should production commence, "we know it will be in the excess of $150 million for land, factory, equipment and manpower", a Wong Fong spokesman says.

"We are prepared to invest as necessary," she adds.

Wong Fong has engaged Williams Advanced Engineering, an engineering services and technology unit of the Williams group of companies, to embark on the ambitious project.

Williams, which is British, has one of the world's top F1 teams.

The Wong Fong spokesman said the Dendrobium will be able to hit 100kmh in under 3 seconds, "putting it comfortably in the performance range of hypercars".

It will use lithium-ion batteries similar to the lightweight 200kW pack found in Formula E race cars, which are supplied by Williams.

The car will have all-wheel torque vectoring. The company declines to give details such as its total output, range and top speed.

 The company is responsible for the interior and exterior design of the car, the basic architecture (which includes the way the doors open), as well as the branding and positioning.

Williams is expected to release more information about the car next month.

Previous Singapore car-making ventures include Acceleron Electric Drive Systems which, in 2012, set about to make a series of efficient and sporty cars.

In 2008, entrepreneur Lim Kian Wee quit a $200,000-a-year job to make and sell super-efficient hybrid cars.

That same year, polytechnic graduate Clarence Tan announced he would make the world's cheapest electric car - from parts sourced from the Corbin Sparrow three-wheeler. In 2002, systems engineer John Kua quit his job at ST Kinetics and poured $250,000 of his savings into a project to build an inexpensive and efficient electric motor.

In 1996, Global Automotive Design & Technology - Singapore's first and only vehicle design company - clinched a deal to design the Bakrie MPV, an eight-seater to be assembled in Indonesia by the Bakrie Group.

None of the projects took off.

But Wong Fong's venture is the first that involves a major international automotive player.

Besides the Dendrobium, which it describes as a "lighthouse project that has invigorated our company", it is also working on a range of other electric vehicles, including the Ant Truck (an electric truck) and Motogo (an electric bike).

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore firm to build e-supercar'. Print Edition | Subscribe