There are a lot of startups that are attempting to revolutionize the motor vehicle today, and brands such as Faraday Future and Lucid are promising great things from their electric motor vehicles. Dubuc Motors may not be making waves on the mass market, but it can be included among the electric upstarts. Headquartered in Quebec, its tiny team of engineers has created a completely modern sports car with an innovative powertrain and a lightweight, dazzling body. We talked to Mike Kakogiannakis and Mario Dubuc, the founders, about the project.
The two men joined forces in 2003, and they have been working together for some time now. Dubuc hails from a family that was into engineering, and he has a history of tinkering with automobiles. Kakogiannakis, though a car enthusiast, has no mechanical background or any direct links to the automotive world. He was, instead, a prosperous property investor, before dabbling in the motor vehicle business after being introduced to Dubuc.
According to Kakogiannakis, they realized the moment they met that they had the same passion for cars. They began working on ideas for 40 hours every week and conducting market research on their ideas, a process that helped validate them. In the course of the next ten years, they created prototypes and eventually they reached a point where they had accumulated a lot of great content. They decided to put it into practice, and in 2013, they left their jobs to concentrate on developing the ultimate sports car.
Instead of following the path of petrol-powered cars, the two men decided that their car would be powered by motors and batteries. While that seems a lot more logical today, it was much more difficult to procure and develop electric components in 2003, when the project commenced. It is important to remember that the Tesla Roadster was only launched in 2008. Even then, what was dubbed 'the roadster of the future' experienced some severe setbacks in its early life. If electric car technology is still seen as young in 2017, imagine how fresh it looked fourteen years ago.
Kakogiannakis recalls that when they started, electric cars had not been used until the Tesla was released. Electric car parts were not as widely available as they are today, and they were much more expensive. He notes that as time goes on, components are becoming more available and cheaper.
Since embarking on the project, the team has worked its way through approximately ten different prototypes, trying to figure out the best way of constructing an electric car. After narrowing down the designs, Dubuc has built two prototypes—one to show prospective customers at car shows and the other one for testing purposes.
The Tomahawk is not meant for the mass market, nor is it a family car. Kakogiannakis and Dubuc are crystal clear on the fact that they are not targeting huge sales figures like Faraday Future or Lucid Motors. Rather, they want to focus on filling a specific market niche. To begin with and as a minimum, their target niche is sports cars that have room for passengers.
According to the company, the car is a two-plus-two, but it does not suffer from the problem of insufficient space, unlike the majority of four-seat coupes. While cars such as Subaru BRZ and Audi TT have seats at the rear that are only suitable for kids, Dubuc is steadfast in his belief that the Tomahawk is not a conventional two-plus-two.
He insists that it is a genuine two-plus-two that can sit two people at the back. In front, you can sit a 275-pound, six-foot-five individual while a person who is five foot nine inches tall can sit at the back. Dubuc adds that the car cannot be considered a four-seater since this will make it sound like an SUV or sedan. He says that it would be preferable to call the car a two-plus-two sports car.
In theory, the focus on the practicality of the car does not seem to have weakened its performance. If the final car matches its alleged performance figures, it will go from zero to 100 km/h in an impressive 3 seconds and it has a stated top speed of 257 kilometers per hour. It remains to be seen whether it can do this without exploding into a blazing ball of broken hopes and dreams. These are real sport car numbers even though they come up short when you compare them to the ridiculous Model X and Tesla Model S. The car’s estimated range is 370 miles (or 595 kilometers), using the EPA testing cycle.
The whole electric system is enclosed in a custom-made aluminum chassis, covered in strongly-scalloped body panels also made of aluminum. While it cannot be described as pretty, it is undoubtedly distinctive. Therefore, if you are purchasing a locally-made niche car, that is likely to be part of the appeal. The entire package is supported by an independent double-wishbone suspension combined with air springs that ensures the ride height is adjustable. Regrettably, we will have to wait for the Consumer Electronic Show of 2018 to have a proper look. However, the preliminary specification sheet definitely reads well.
Dubuc says that presently they are building two pre-production cars that are scheduled to be completed by the end of this year—just in time to be unveiled at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronic Show. He adds that people will see the vehicle as a show car, while the other one will be for testing.
Even though the launch of the car is set to be a huge moment, the hard work will still continue. Getting approvals for the car to be driven on American roads is a complicated process. The team will require around ten cars for certification and crash testing purposes. Other things remaining equal. The team hopes to construct 1500 Tomahawks every year. The cars will be sold to customers who desire an electric car but are not happy with what is being offered by Tesla or other established manufacturers.
To pull it off, Dubuc plans to raise money through Start Engine, a capital crowdfunding service. Currently, it has gotten reservations of over six million US dollars. In contrast to conventional crowdfunding sites where people contribute money hoping to receive the finished product, Start Engine allows individuals to purchase shares in the company. The team asserts that the money that will be raised using the service will be utilized for all the certification and crash testing work that is needed for the car to be ready for road use.
Naturally, the whole process is hard work for Kakogiannakis and Dubuc, but they appear to be unfazed by the challenge. Rest in confidence that we will be closely monitoring their progress.
Kakogiannakis states that if you truly love something, it is easy to overlook any pain that you may experience as you pursue your goal. He adds that working for 13 or 14 hours every day is always a pleasure for them. And he concludes by saying that they know they have a great product and are excited to soon be servicing an untapped market.