Bold ambitions. Few have heard of Lvchi Auto, but the Chinese startup intends to change that with its forthcoming electric vehicle range, starting with the Venere. Words: Andrew Charman.
TECH INSIDER | LVCHI VENERE
At the end of a Geneva Motor Show press day featuring numerous car launches, the unveiling on the Lvchi Auto stand attracts only a small media crowd.
In future years, however, the scene may be different, if the Chinese company’s president Xiangyin Wang has his way. Taking the wraps off the Venere, a car he describes as “the world’s first full electric limousine with supercar performance”, Wang says that by 2023 the car will top an electric range selling in several sectors, produced by a well-known international brand with a 500,000 annual volume.
Bold words, particularly considering that Lvchi Auto was only established in Shanghai in 2016. And rivals such as Aston Martin, which unveiled its Lagonda electric luxury car hours before the Venere, might question the “world’s first” claim. But in terms of technological know-how, the Lvchi newcomer certainly competes with the better-known European names.
Remarkably, E&H Vehicle heard, the Venere project began only in July 2017, as a joint program with the Institute of Development in Automotive Engineering (IDEA). Established in Italy in 1978, IDEA has extensive experience in design, modeling, engineering and prototyping.
Lvchi’s stated aim is to “disrupt the EV market with innovative solutions, yet to be seen on such vehicles”. Such innovation sees the Venere based around a carbon-fiber honeycomb composite tub, with the roof forming an integral stressed member. As a result, although it is a large car – 5,150mm long, 2,120mm wide and with a 3,040mm wheelbase – the Venere is also lightweight, tipping the scales at 2,100kg.
It is low as well, standing only 1,418mm tall with a frontal area of 2.4m2. A drag coefficient of just 0.28 results from “innovative aerodynamic solutions” (about which neither Lvchi nor IDEA are more forthcoming).
A pair of aluminum subframes attach to the composite shell over the axles, each carrying two 185kW electric motors and a differential. The transfer box incorporates a two-speed gearbox and provides all-wheel-drive capability. Total power is 740kW (1,006ps) at 13,000rpm, with 1,540Nm of torque. Lvchi quotes a 0-100km/h (0-62mph) time of 25 seconds and a 286km/h (178mph) maximum speed, while the NEDC range between charges is 652km (405 miles).
The 100kWh lithium-ion battery pack is incorporated into the floor and transmission tunnel. As a result, the Venere promises spacious surroundings for four occupants, and easy access – the composite shell dispenses with a traditional B pillar and employs rear-hinged doors.
A traditional-style steering wheel is fitted but the cabin is otherwise devoid of switches and knobs. All functions are accessed through touchscreens, including a large unit incorporated into the top of the transmission tunnel. Full autonomy will be part of the car’s development.
Lvchi intends to start producing the Venere in Turin, Italy, putting it on sale in 2019 at a yet-to-be-revealed price. By that time the brand will be well into its ambitious growth plans.
A performance electric saloon, the Urano, was unveiled in Shanghai in January, and at Geneva Wang revealed that in September 2019 a two-seat EV will be launched into the Asian market on a new electric platform. From 2020 it will also underpin a three-door four-seater and a European five-door hatchback.
A mid-sized platform will form the basis of new MPV, SUV and saloon models to be revealed in October 2019, swiftly followed by an electric sports car and a hybrid coupe on a larger S platform. By 2023 Lvchi will be selling 500,000 cars a year, with its Italian plant joined by three in China and technology support being employed in Italy, the UK and the USA.
Wang describes the Venere as the future of electric cars. “We have a detailed plan to become one of the most recognized EV makers. Venere is how we present ourselves to the world,” he says.
Equally, Domenico Morali, president of joint partner IDEA, sees the Venere as a bold indication of what the brand stands for. “We gladly shared IDEA’s historic know-how and expertise to come up with this incredible car,” he says. “First we prove, then we talk. This is why we are here with a performing prototype.”