EXCLUSIVE: Re-Born Marque Accelerates Energy Innovation
This publication talks to a French entrepreneur who has brought a renowned maker of top-end cars back to life, and along the way bids to reshape battery, design and energy efficiency approaches.
One of the great names of French motor car history has come back to high-tech life thanks to an entrepreneur with an eye on the world’s energy challenges.
Laurent Tapie (son of French businessman, football club president and politician Bernard Tapie) has reignited Delage as a maker of the “hypercar” (cars worth more than €1 million ($1.08 million)) – the sort of vehicle also produced by Bugatti, Pagani and Koenigsegg. These eye-catching aristocrats of the road represent the pinnacle of engineering, design flair and performance. And Tapie is a man on a science and engineering mission. He’s taken Delage – a marque that disappeared in the 1950s – back into the limelight. It was “re-born” in 2019. One of its cars is the Delage D12, futuristic in its design. (pictured with Tapie)
Tapie and his team are developing a drag-elimination system and new power unit (having already sought a patent for these) and is working with engineers in France to build an electric turbine able to reach unprecedented levels of efficiency. Tapie argues that the hypercar, as a “showcase of technology,” will spawn interest in other fields centred on the kind of design and efficiency quality at Delage.
A problem at present is that most electric vehicles have 600-volt engines, and crash-test results suggest that this can be dangerous. With a more efficient design, the voltage can shrink to 60, Tapie told this publication in an interview. Crucially, a low-voltage electric engine does not save weight in the engine itself but it does allow a weight saving on the electric car that uses it. This is because manufacturers don’t have to insert mandatory crash tests reinforcements on cars with a 600V environment.
“We are integrating low-voltage units and we think this has big potential for electric vehicles. Existing `engines’ are very heavy,” Tapie continued.
Unless laws change to make it compulsory, Delage said his hypercars will not be 100 per cent electric. “To me the thermic engine still offers the best driving experience overall and I believe hybridization (and not full electric) is the best solution for the CO2 reduction,” he said.
“We are a technology company doing hypercars,” Tapie said.
The development of such a car is an example of how luxury brands can sometimes innovate technologies that eventually are adopted by the wider population. Within the wealth sector, financial institutions also sponsor such brands, and sponsor sports events where innovation is a theme (UBS is global sponsor of Formula 1) to build their image and connect with HNW clients.