The rebirth of luxury: Spain’s ‘Rolls Royce’ returns with a £1.3m electric supercar

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A luxury car brand once hailed as Spain’s equivalent to a Rolls Royce or Bentley and a favorite of the royal family is wowing critics with a new design it hopes will restore the brand’s global reputation.

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Hispano Suiza’s ‘Carmen’ is a lightweight supercar made largely of fiberboard and powered entirely by electricity. The supercar costs £1.3½, has 1,005 Ƅhp and can accelerate to 62ph in under three seconds with a top speed of 155ph. The model shown at the Geneʋa Motor Show last week is the first production vehicle from the firm, which rose to popularity in the Roaring Twenties, dating from its original incarnation only in 1968.

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A luxury car brand once hailed as Spain’s equivalent to a Rolls Royce or Bentley and a favorite of the royal family is wowing critics with a new design it hopes will restore the brand’s global reputation.

According to its creators, the two-seater, 4.7-inch-long Carmen is aimed at the emerging “hyper-luxury” market, which combines hypercar performance with higher-end levels of luxury. The Carмen uses batteries used in Formula E, an auto racing division that uses only electric cars, to produce all the power at its rear wheels, with a speed electronically limited to 155 mph.

“We capped the top speed because we don’t think it makes the most sense,” said technical director Luci Marti, who spoke to Top Gear. The car weighs just 1,690kg, made possible with lightweight material in the interior and fiberboard in its frames. According to Hispano Suiza, the new model is said to be one of the “cars with the most carbon fiber in the world”.

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Hispano Suiza’s ‘Carmen’ is a lightweight supercar made largely of fiberboard and powered entirely by electricity. The supercar costs £1.3½, has 1,005 Ƅhp and can accelerate to 62ph in under three seconds with a top speed of 155ph.

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This is the first production of a vehicle from the firm, which rose to popularity in the Roaring Twenties, since its original incarnation only in 1968.
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According to its creators, the 4.7-inch-long two-seater Carmen is aimed at the emerging “hyper-luxury” market, combining hypercar performance with Bentley levels of luxury.

Miguel Suqué Mateu, great-grandson of the founder and current president of Hispano Suiza Fábrica de Automóviles SA talks about the realization of the new model: ‘Making a dream come true that we had for years, to see the Hispano Suiza on the road again, In all the world.’

He said: ‘Back in 1900, when Hispano Suiza started, the world’s first electric car was made, but the prototype was never produced industrially. Now, 119 years later, in March 2019, Hispano Suiza has its first 100% electric car, with great features and manufactured in Barcelona, the realization of my great-grandfather’s dream”.

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Mr. Luci, who spent three years at Koenigsegg, which produced the world’s first 300ph car, said: “Even though I come from Koenigsegg, this is a dream.” ‘There, we had the old chassis, engine and suspension, here they gave me a blank sheet of paper and said ‘build the car. I was like ‘seriously, can I put everything I learned into this chassis?’. I don’t want to compete with the performance of a Koenigsegg or a Rimác’.

The Carmen has been entirely designed and manufactured by QEV Technologies, a Barcelona-based company that researches and develops electric vehicles and also runs the Mahindra team in Formula E, an electronic car racing series.

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The lightweight cardboard fiber chassis of the Carmen ‘supercar’ which, according to Hispano Suiza, makes it one of the most carbon fiber intensive vehicles in the world, and means the vehicle can reach top speeds of 155 ph , fully powered by electricity.
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The two-seater’s interior is also fitted with lightweight material inside, all of which contribute to its top speed, the car’s manufacturers say.

The Hispano Suiza has been owned for four generations by the Suqué Mateu family, which is trying to reclaim its brand as a luxury supercar. However, the brand has not produced any new models during the 1970s, as after World War II the company turned to aerospace design and manufacturing and today exists as a subsidiary of the French manufacturing giant Safran.

The full name of the model is Carmen Mateu, in honor of the mother of the current president, who was the granddaughter of the original founder of the firm. Annual production of the Carmen will be six cars and the total production number will be limited to 19, its manufacturers say.

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When asked who the car is aimed at, Mr. Marti explained that it’s definitely the same luxury market that appreciates the vintage-inspired designs of early 20th-century cars (pictured), but hopefully with less incorporations of younger people who also know Hispanic. Swiss brand

In the 1920s and 1930s, the brand was recognized as top of the range in luxury vehicles that put it on a par with Rolls-Royce and Bugatti today. It was supposedly a favorite of Spanish monarchs, as well as members of the Roths𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥 family, and even Picasso.

When asked who the car is aimed at, Mr. Marti explained that it’s definitely the same luxury market that appreciates the brand’s vintage-inspired designs, but hopefully with fewer additions.

He said: ‘We are after a new market; collectors above all and perhaps to a lesser extent young, and on the other hand those who know what Hispano Suiza is. The style is heavily inspired by the 1938 Hispano Suiza Duonnet Xenia, so you won’t really turn young if you remember that. The teardrop shape, coated rear wheels and round headlights are a direct nod to a car from 81 years ago, an attitude unique in the electric car segment.

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The pre-WWII Hispano Suiza range that epitomizes its ‘classic’ design. The Spanish brand disappeared entirely at the end of the war, but a factory in Barcelona has begun producing a real: the Carmen model is named after the mother of the company’s president, Miguel Mateu, who was the founder’s grandmother.

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Video: Hispano Suiza presents the ‘Carmen’, its new electric hyperlux car м>

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