The lawns of Pebble Beach fill with classic cars every August, and many automakers use the gathering of thousands of wealthy enthusiasts to pitch their newest models. Today, a San Francisco electric-vehicle start up unveiled its first car here — and while the shape will be familiar to any Shelby fan, the power system is billed as thoroughly modern.
Renovo Motors, a startup founded by two Silicon Valley veterans four years ago, says it plans to start building copies of this Coupe early next year. Based on the modern recreation of the Shelby Cobra Daytona chassis built by the late Carroll Shelby's shop, the exterior was refined by original designer Peter Brock. It retains all of the original Shelby cues, with the only hint of the different power source coming from the side exhaust pipes that have no opening.
Underneath the classic shape lies what Renovo claims is a new way of building electric performance cars. The biggest hurdle to electric sports cars comes from the massive weight of the batteries and the time it takes to recharge; in the upcoming Formula E electric-car racing series, drivers will simply switch cars during pit stops. Renovo says it's tackled both challenges by using a modular series of lithium-ion batteries that allows it to shift their weight around the car for maximum performance. And a fast-charge system will in theory recharge the batteries in 30 minutes, with a 5-hour recharge time in a Level 2 plug.
As for performance, Renovo says the twin electric motors produce more than 500 hp and 1,000 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels, enough to hustle the 3,250-lb. car to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds. The range is 100 miles, and Renovo says the driver will be able to adjust brake regeneration from the cockpit for greater efficiency.
The firm says it will start building production models next year, at a full supercar price: $529,000. It's not the first time a few strangers have shown up at Pebble Beach with a supercar ready to set the world on fire; in most cases we are still waiting for the heat to match the light. But Renovo seems ready for the scrutiny, offering rides in a prototype to prove its bona fides. We'll have more from inside later today.