Renovo Coupe: The Electric Dream Car For Gasoline-Crazy Gearheads

Renovo Coupe: The Electric Dream Car For Gasoline-Crazy Gearheads

A Silicon Valley startup just revealed the latest piece of electronic future-tech, a 500-horsepower, all-electric supercar that does zero to 60 faster than a Porsche 911. But the most important part of the Renovo Coupe isn't cutting-edge at all: It's that gorgeous body, designed in 1964.

Over at Jalopnik, our pal Damon Lavrinc spoke with the founders of Renovo, getting all the details you'll want to know about this beast. You'll find Damon's full coverage below.

Impressive numbers are great, but no kid ever fogged up a showroom window talking about curb weight. Even more than killer performance, the greatest thing Renovo's got going for it is that classic body.

Sharp-eyed readers already know it: It's the Shelby Daytona Coupe, one of the most beautiful and recognizable race cars ever built.

That design, straight out of 1964, was draped essentially un-altered over the Renovo's 21st century electric car guts. With that gorgeous body, the Renovo Coupe offers something for nearly everyone: Electric car nerdliness for techies, scorching performance for thrill seekers, and a hallowed design for traditionalists.

That's sort of the gearhead ideal for electric cars: As the technology matures, it opens up a whole world of opportunity to wrap zero-emission electric drivetrains in the beautiful, legendary designs of yesteryear. Not everyone wants to restore a long-neglected classic car by hand; stuff that classic look with a no-maintenance electric powertrain and you might convince a whole new crowd to break away from anonymous me-too-mobiles and embrace zany, unique designs. Hell, Neil Young already did it with his LincVolt, a jaw-droppingly gorgeous 1959 Lincoln Continental now powered by batteries.

There are a ton of caveats and what-ifs that could hobble Renovo before a single car hits the road. The auto industry is tough, and all the good intentions and beautiful designs in the world won't do squat without a solid business plan. Even if Renovo can manage to hack it, you probably won't see one in your cul-de-sac: The Coupe is definitely going to be very expensive and have a very limited production run.

Still, most of the electric and alternative-fuel vehicles out there today look like anime golf carts. Even Tesla's designs, while beautiful, don't stray too far from the design norms of today. Renovo could blow the doors off the trend of safe, staid, conservative car design (even if the design Renovo is using doesn't actually belong to Renovo). The potential to shake up the norm is electrifying.

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Original post by Damon Lavrinc on Jalopnik

The Renovo Coupe Is An Electric Shelby With 1,000 LB-FT Of Torque

The Renovo Coupe Is An Electric Shelby With 1,000 LB-FT Of Torque

Every year, some company with more ambition than experience puts out a press release and a rendering and a litany of promises about revolutionary, all-electric performance. Then silence. It's the cult of ego and vaporware. Renovo is not a member, and it's out to prove it with an electric Shelby Daytona with 1,000 lb-ft of torque.

Rather than putting on a relentless parade of hype, Renovo has been in stealth mode since its founding in 2010, and Pebble Beach is their coming out party.

The Renovo Coupe Is An Electric Shelby With 1,000 LB-FT Of Torque

For four years, Renovo's CEO Christopher Heiser and its CTO Jason Stinson have been working under the radar on new breed of supercar that takes the latest EV technology and wraps it in something dripping with American performance heritage. Yup, that's a factory modified Shelby Daytona CSX9000, just in time for the car's 50th anniversary.

"We wanted a chassis that could handle the performance levels we had in mind, but also something classic and undeniably American," Heiser told Jalopnik. "We're proud to be here, to be doing this in the U.S."

The Renovo Coupe Is An Electric Shelby With 1,000 LB-FT Of Torque

That chassis, along with the body and suspension, is modified to withstand the rigors of the twin sequential motors putting out 500 horsepower to the rear wheels. Obviously, the headline figure is the torque – 1,000 lb-ft – available from a standstill and able to push the Renovo Coupe from 0 to 60 mph in under 3.4 seconds. But it's the packaging and weight that's more impressive.

"A 5,000-pound supercar wasn't going to work for us," says Heiser. So the company developed a new breed of patent-pending lithium-ion battery tech that's focused on performance and safety, with high heat tolerances, and the ability to charge and discharge rapidly. It's also compact enough to both shift the weight distribution for optimal handling and deliver a surprisingly low curb weight of 3,250 pounds – that's 24 pounds less than a Ferrari 458.

The Renovo Coupe Is An Electric Shelby With 1,000 LB-FT Of Torque

But that battery pack is also small, coming in at just 30 kWh (6 more than a Nissan Leaf), so range is pegged at about 100 miles.

"We could've put bigger batteries in for a 300-mile range," says Heiser. "But then it would've been 4,500 pound car." So instead they focused on charging. A standard Level 2 charger will top up the packs in about 5 hours – nothing revolutionary – but Heiser confessed that he wants the Coupe to spend lots of time at the track, so they've got a separate port for a fast-charger, which can juice the cells up in 30 minutes. "Fast charging is a really important part of the EV strategy and even bigger in the performance EV strategy," says Heiser.

The Renovo Coupe Is An Electric Shelby With 1,000 LB-FT Of Torque

With the lackluster range and the insane stats, it's easy to dispatch Renovo as yet another contestant on Who Wants To Build A Supercar? But after spending time with both Jason and Chris, their technical acumen, engineering chops, and fanatical devotion to the driving engagement proves otherwise. And based on their history and experience, I'm skeptical betting against them.

Heiser has a degree from Carnegie Melon and worked in robotics, software, and a range of start-ups (your phone probably uses his camera software), while Jason spent 18 years at Intel doing some seriously impressive chip work and still lectures at Stanford on the subject.

"I've always been a car guy," Jason says. "I've got a small collection of vintage cars that I wrench on. I'd still be at Intel, [but] I wanted to be a part of this history – a new chapter that's being written."

The Renovo Coupe Is An Electric Shelby With 1,000 LB-FT Of Torque

Living in the Bay Area, they met through mutual friends who worked at Tesla, and their love of both cars and technology brought them together to form Renovo. And Peter Brock, the original designer of the CSX9000, has been advising them from the start.

"This shape was nearly perfect 50 years ago, and physics doesn't change much over time," says Brock. "When the Renovo team approached me with the idea of incorporating my work into their designs, I was thrilled. The finished product definitely carries the spirit of the original car strongly into the future."

Part of carrying it into the future was also updating the interior, but putting an absolute premium on the driving experience. There are new gauges and displays and a selector that allows the driver to adjust the brake regeneration on-the-fly, but, according to Heiser, "we don't want to distract our customers from the joy of driving the car."

The Renovo Coupe Is An Electric Shelby With 1,000 LB-FT Of Torque

Production is slated to begin in the first quarter of next year in Silicon Valley, with deliveries happening a few months later. They're focusing on small batches ("very, very small – fraction of what P1 and LaFerrari," says Heiser) and sales will be limited to the West Coast before Renovo goes nationwide.

With over four years of R&D under its belt, the support of Shelby and Brock, and a keen understanding of the underlying technology and how to market something that's a niche within a niche, Renovo has a solid shot at bringing a proper electric supercar to the road. And they're not just trotting it out to Pebble this week to show off their handiwork – they're giving rides and drives. That's a level of confidence rarely seen, and we'll know more this weekend when we saddle up for a spin.


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