What's all this about?
Falling into that Geneva Motor Show category of 'what the hell are we looking at here, then?', this is the Vanda Electrics Dendrobium and it's Singapore's first hypercar.
Singapore's first hypercar?
Precisely. Never mind that, though, there's a technical partner involved in this brilliant lunacy and you should recognise the name: Williams Advanced Engineering.
The F1 team?
Yup, that's the one. The team that competes in a hybrid era of Formula One, and the outfit that supplies every battery in the Formula E series and which had a hand in the (sadly) stillborn Jaguar C-X75 project. All this information should give you a clue as to what powers the Dendrobium.
Is it a nine-litre, quad-turbo V16?
You're not funny, y'know. The VE Dendrobium is, of course, an entirely electric hypercar. At the moment, it's purely a concept, but the Singaporean company has every intention of building it if reaction to the car in Geneva is good; the first examples could be on the roads by 2020 if the green light is granted. It would pack two inboard-mounted electric motors on each axle, with a single-speed gearbox with diff at the front, and a multi-speed gearbox and diff at the rear. Power would be provided by the latest lithium-ion battery and there would be enough of it to propel this two-seater from 0-62mph in around 2.7 seconds and on to a top speed in excess of the magic 200mph.
I take it that it's light, then...
Ah. Well, the Dendrobium has a composite monocoque chassis, carbon-fibre body panels, carbon ceramic brakes and lightweight alloy callipers behind the 20-inch front, 21-inch rear alloys... but it still tips the scales at 1,750kg. Which is portly.
Why do I spot one red seat, and one black?
It's to make the driver feel special. The rest of the cabin is black so that bright red chair signifies the privilege of controlling the Dendrobium. Plenty of carbon fibre and also swathes of low-carbon-produced, high-end leather from Scotland's prestigious Bridge of Weir company clothes the surfaces, while the stitching on the seats is said to be inspired by muscle fibres. There's a digital cluster and two more displays, which are for the rear-view cameras - trust us, these won't make it to production. Note also the hexagon motif, obvious in the air vents, which links to the front grille and headlight bezels outside.
Let's get onto the outside.
The doors and the roof all open in an automated, synchronised fashion. Once they are open, the car is said to resemble the flower of a genus of orchids that is native to Singapore. Do you want to have a guess what that genus is called?
I've got a feeling it might be dendrobium...
And you'd be right. Although we reckon that, from the front three-quarters, with all its apertures open it looks more like a seriously hacked-off funnel-web spider that's rearing up for a fight. But we digress. The rest of the car has a motorsport-like appearance and influence, with exposed double-wishbone suspension, a teardrop body shape culminating in a tail that houses the plug-in port and a light that displays the charge level of the battery, as well as an aerodynamic underfloor, rear double-diffuser and a front splitter. We are happy to go on record as saying we really like the look of the VE Dendrobium, as it's got a properly futuristic vibe and an identity all of its own.
So has Vanda Electrics made anything else?
Yes, it has, actually. And these are suitably crackpot vehicles by the name of the Pro Ant Truck and the Motochimp mini-scooter. We really like this company and this car, the more and more we read...
Matt Robinson - 7 Mar 2017