Piëch GT: start-up supercar launches in 2028 with 1000bhp | CAR Magazine

Piëch GT: start-up supercar launches in 2028 with 1000bhp

Published: 07 June 2024 Updated: 07 June 2024

► New Piëch GT supercar previewed
► Built by Multimatic, led by Tobias Moers
► Around 1000bhp, and launches in 2028

Remember the Piëch GT concept from a few years ago? No? The original concept was revealed at the 2019 Geneva motor show and was pitched as a battery-electric grand tourer led by son of the late VW Group boss Ferdinand Piëch.

The start-up mothballed the original concept from back then to work on it further, and this is the new generation.

So here it is, the definitive Piëch GT. Still only a full-size clay model, the fetching 2+2-seater is the work of David Seesing, the man behind Forge Design in London whose most recent claim to fame is the stillborn TVR Griffith. The 1800kg sports car named after one of the European car industry giants (Toni is Ferdinand’s son and one of the master’s thirteen children) is 4780mm long, 2000mm wide and 1350mm tall. It sits on a 2780mm wheelbase, and its carbon fibre belly is filled with 16 battery modules each of which contains 312 individual cylindrical cells. The total capacity adds up to 90kWh which feeds two electric motors each rated at 375kW/550Nm for a combined output of over 1000bhp and 811lb ft of torque.

Although the first running prototype won’t be complete before late next year, Piëch is already advertising key performance figures like a top speed of 187mph, a 2.6sec acceleration time from 0-62mph and a WLTP range of 312 miles – solid stuff, but nothing the new Porsche Taycan turbo could not match for similar money. The newcomer will thus also have to score with soft assets like rarity value, the ability to generate a made to measure product and, most significantly, the allegedly truly emotional driving experience.

The design, a radical departure from the homespun initial effort, confirms the restart. It combines a subtle British touch – think Aston or Jaguar – with generic GT proportions, chunky German solidity signalling exceptional torsional rigidity and a distinct premium appeal emphasised by thin cutlines, jewel head- and taillights and machined full-frame 22-inch wheels. Although the windscreen, the rear window and the black roof form one contrasting whole, we may still see detail changes like a frunk, a lift reducing aero kit or enlarged air intakes on a TBD high-performance spin-off. We don’t know yet what the interior looks like, but Tobias Moers is adamant that the Piëch GT will offer the widest possible choice of colour and trim options and that no two cars will be same because personalisation extends to the software by inviting the user to compose an individual soundtrack, to dial in the preferred individual dynamic DNA and to even generate artificial vibrations – think movers and shakers – for an unrivalled tour de force at the wheel which makes the mind boggle.

The underpinnings of the Piëch GT are quite straightforward. The multilink suspension is steel sprung front and rear, braking is by extra-cost carbon-fibre rotors, the rack-and-pinion steering is of the variable-rate and variable-effort kind. A steer-by-wire option may be added at a later stage. There are no fancy air springs, no active anti-roll bars, no rear-wheel steering, no all-wheel drive alternative at this point. The most striking single feature is perhaps the Piëch Dual2 Drive layout which splits the propulsion duties in two, allocating an independently operating high-tech motor to each rear wheel. Motor and wheel are connected by a two-speed gearbox which can, again, do its own thing irrespective of the counterpart’s set-up and response. Both power units entertain their own separate torque vectoring, traction control and variable locking ratio properties masterminded by the Piëch Torque Controller in combination with POSA, short for Performance Oriented Software Architecture. The first gear ratio is 1:9, second is a longer-legged 1:5.

Ralph Illenberger, formerly with Mercedes-AMG and Aston Martin, details the principle: ‘The Dual2 Drive system transfers the typical sports car feeling we know from high-performance combustion-engine models to the quieter on-off realm of EVs. The key strength of the e-motor is its ability to unleash instant maximum torque at low rpm. Its main weakness is the declining torque- power curve at high rpm which kind of cushions the full-throttle high-speed acceleration. We compensate this downside by emphasising power over torque: shifting from first into second, either manually or as part of the selected drive mode, provides that familiar kick in the butt which feels like the high-speed, high-rev boost effect typical of a proper sports car.’ According to the senior power broker and his equally committed co-CEO, the power delivery is punchy and progressive rather than linear and synthetic, allegedly bringing back fond memories of an old-fashioned V8-engined crackerjack.

The other innovation Piëch claims will make a big difference are the batteries and the elaborate cooling system which ensures the drivetrain’s thermal well being even on the track and when hooked up to a 500kW fast charger. In essence, the GT uses the same industry standard 21700 cells as a wide variety of hand-held power tools. Among the available suppliers are household brands like Samsung and Panasonic as well as dedicated specialists like EVE (China), Molycell (Taiwan) and Universell (Germany). Cost is not the main issue here. With cell tariffs ranging from 2.80 to 4.00 Euro for a 4.5amp item, the price for the complete power pack varies between 16,000 and 20,000 Euro – that’s less than a tenth of the complete vehicle’s asking price. More decisive are factors like energy density, heat resistance, degradation and safety. Since cooling is key, Piëch has embarked on a multi-redundant sealed total immersion layout which entertains two oil circuits, two water circuits and two just-in-case chillers to ensure maximum stability even under extreme operating conditions. Quips Tobias Moers: ‘We can feed energy at a constant maximum 500 kW from beginning to end, boosting the state of charge from 10 to 80percent in under ten minutes which is not bad at all in view of the current infrastructure limitations.’

The modular vehicle architecture fuses a carbon fibre monocoque with an aluminium front end subassembly and a steel rear axle module. Although the wheelbase is defined by the size of the battery, there is virtually no limit to the number of potential body styles. While Tobias Moers rules out a four-door coupé (‘everybody has one, but the market doesn’t seem to like them’), a CAV crossover, a proper SUV, a extended-wheelbase saloon fit to accommodate 19 battery modules, a high-performance coupé and any type of bespoke few-offs are all on the shortlist. ‘We won’t do a facelift,’ says Moers. ‘Instead, the plan is to use the Mk1 platform over two relatively short five- year cycles with either a complete redesign or a broadening of the range at the halfway point.’ While some start-ups embark on a strict online sales and marketing strategy, Piëch will do things the traditional way and appoint a bunch of high-end luxury dealers with an initial focus on the Middle East and Europe, to be followed by North America and the Far East.

Having worked with Multimatic before when he ran the show at AMG (AMG one) and Aston (Valkyrie), Tobias Moers saw no reason to look for a new R&D partner when he signed the dotted line at Piëch. This time, however, the focus is not on the small manufacturing facility in the UK but on a bigger and more streamlined factory near Toronto, Canada. The idea is to build an initial batch of 2000 cars in 2028 and 2029, to increase the output to 4500 or even 5000 units with the addition of a second four-door model (think GT-4), and to reach an initial ceiling of 7000 to 8000 vehicles per annum at the beginning of the second life cycle in 2033 when a Purosangue type CAV is likely to join the fray. Toni Piëch expects the company to break even in 2029 and to be profitable the year after, with a solid EBIT of 14percent earmarked for the series one products. Right now, the company has 70 mainly small investors and 30 full-time employees, but these numbers are bound to soar as the second round of financing is due to generate around 100m Euro, more than double the initial investment. Middle East funding is pivotal with Arab family offices and local wealth management funds among the most prominent backers.

‘The magic is in the brand,’ claims Toni Piëch (picture above, left) who arrived at the Stuttgart makeshift launch location in a white Ferrari F12 on Swiss plates, not in his Urus or the Huracan, and certainly not in the unique Bugatti voiture noire that was his late father’slast special commission. ‘The brand depends of course on the product which is 80percent Tobias. My role is to be the entrepreneur who must hold this enterprise together by convincing our backers that we are here to stay.’ On the R&D side, Piëch’s number one ally is perhaps the Bosch Engineering Group (BEG) who agreed to mastermind the complex integration of hard- and software by means of a highly flexible central control unit and an ultrafast CAN bus connection. Not dissimilar to the Hand of God black box under development at the BMW M GmbH for the next all-electric four-motor 1000bhp M3/M4, the BEG brain power must integrate the individual talents of the Piëch GT into a pace-setting new entity which has total driving pleasure written all over its sleek body. ‘We could never afford to develop our own cells,’ acknowledges Tobias Moers, ‘but we can buy the best batteries that are out there on the market. ‘We could not fund that byte-powered megabrain either, but we can buy the top-notch know-how others – like the Chinese manufacturers – have helped to establish. At the end of the day, it’s the mix that makes the difference. And as a team, we are confident that this very special mix is spot-on in more ways than one.’

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel