Ariel Hipercar: 1180bhp hybrid supercar to launch in 2019

Published: 23 August 2017

► Hybrid supercar to launch 2019
► Capable of 0-100mph in 3.8sec
► Hipercar is its working title

British sports car company Ariel has announced it will launch a hybrid-powered supercar in 2019, claimed to be ‘one of the highest performance vehicles in the world.’

Ariel's 'Hipercar' hybrid supercar: the headlines

  • Scheduled for launch in 2019
  • Ariel Hipercar is a working title; official model name TBC
  • Total power output of 880kW (1180bhp)
  • Total torque output of 1327lb ft
  • 4WD and 2WD versions
  • 0-100mph in 3.8sec

The Hipercar will be powered by inboard electric wheel-motors and a 750V battery pack, augmented by a petrol-fuelled 35kW micro-turbine range-extender to quell range anxiety.

Two versions will be made available – one with 4WD and one with 2WD.

The forecast acceleration times are startling: Ariel claims the flagship 4WD version will be capable of 0-60mph in 2.4sec, 0-100mph in 3.8sec(!) and 0-150mph in 7.8sec. Top speed is estimated at 160mph.

Ariel HIPERCAR sketch

‘Hipercar’ is the project’s working title, standing for High Performance Carbon Reduction. The car’s official model name is still to be confirmed.

Ariel currently manufactures two car models, the Atom and the Nomad, alongside the Ace motorcycle. Work began on the Hipercar project in 2014.

More than 1100bhp promised

The wheel motors are combined with integral single-speed gearboxes and sophisticated torque vectoring technology will metre out the twist at each wheel. Each motor will develop around 220kW (295bhp) and 332lb ft of torque.

That makes for dizzying projected power and torque figures; Ariel claims 880kW (equivalent to 1180bhp) and 1327lb ft for the 4WD version. The 2WD car will develop around 440kW (590bhp).

For context, the Bugatti Chiron’s W16 powertrain generates 1479bhp and 1180lb ft, but weighs nearly two tonnes.

No projected kerb weight for the Ariel Hipercar has yet been announced, but it’s a vehicle designed with saving weight in mind. The complete motor, gearbox and inverter assembly for the Hipercar is claimed to weigh only 57kg.

Ariel HIPERCAR chassis

The car itself is built around a bonded aluminium chassis, with aluminium front and rear subframes and adjustable suspension with aluminium wishbones and Bilstein dampers.

Ariel plans to offer a choice of forged or carbon composite wheels, with 265/35 R20 Michelin Pilot Cup tyres on the front and 325/30 R21 at the rear.

The wheel motors will recharge the battery under deceleration off-throttle. However, energy regeneration won't be linked to the braking system, ‘in order to maintain feel and consistency of the brake pedal at all states of battery charge.’ Brakes are by AP Racing six-pot calipers at the front and four-pot at the rear.

Rolling chassis to be displayed in September 2017

Two prototypes are currently being constructed to be shown at the 2017 Low Carbon Vehicle show at Millbrook on 6-7 September, and will be displayed as rolling chassis without bodywork.

Ariel’s director Simon Saunders says: ‘We’re not unveiling final bodywork at this stage and it’s unusual for a car manufacturer to do things this way round.  What you usually get is an exterior concept with some vague promises about what is happening underneath and how wonderful it’s going to be. The core of HIPERCAR is the technology, the design and the engineering so that’s what we are showing.  This is an important part of Ariel’s future so it has to be right.’

Ariel HIPERCAR motor

The Hipercar is being engineered in conjunction with partners Equipmake (developing the car's APM200 motors, pictured above) and Delta Motorsport. Ariel says that part of the project’s remit is to showcase the abilities of UK suppliers and engineering companies, in particular with regards to the car’s motor, drivetrain, battery and electronics.

‘Anchoring the technology in this country and building a British supply chain is vital for the economy,’ says Saunders.

The project is partly funded by £2m from Innovate UK, and development of the 2WD model is being assisted by UK battery research project AMPLiFII.

Styling

Ariel says the new car will be ‘full bodied’, with more enclosed surfaces than the skeletal Atom and Nomad. It’ll be the first closed-body car the company has produced.

The exterior design is still being finalised, but Ariel has released the sketches shown in the gallery above to give an idea of the car’s overall design direction.

Active aerodynamics, as explored on the company's Atom AERO-P prototype in 2016, may be applied to the Hipercar for 'the generation of downforce at zero speed.'

Pricing TBC

Ariel says it will not finalise pricing until later in the project.

Director Simon Saunders says: ‘Like other Ariels we want Hipercar to represent excellent value for money for the remarkable performance on offer.  It will be an expensive car because of the technology involved but when compared to £1m+ supercars, which it will outperform, it’s going to represent excellent value for money.  This is the first true electric supercar that will cross continents, drive to town and lap a race track.’

Read all our Ariel sports car reviews here

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, occasional racer

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