It may be the first Indian car in the US… if you don't count JLR.
As buyers eagerly await the long-delayed arrival of the Tesla Roadster, another unconventional hypercar may end up arriving first. It's called the Shul, and it comes from Indian automaker Vazirani Automotive that first showed off the car at the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed. Rather than run on pure electric power like a Tesla, the Shul uses a gasoline-powered turbine to propel four electric motors on each axle. No performance figures exist for the car just yet, but the company's CEO and Chief Designer Chunky Vazirani is confident that his creation is one-of-a-kind.
“We don’t believe we have any competitors,” Vazirani told CarBuzz. “Our goal was to make the simplest battery solution out there. Through the years of internal R&D, we tried various methods including liquid-cooled battery packs like Tesla and most other brands have implemented. But we found that solution to be complex, heavy, and energy inefficient.”
“As cooling is ultimately all about the heat exchange with the air, we got inspired from the air-cooled Porsche era and brought that inspiration to the 21st century to cool batteries,” Vazirani explained. “We feel our solution is optimal when it comes to design complexity and weight. And it's so simple that anybody could build battery packs in their garage with this technology. We call this 'Ekonk' technology, which we will reveal more details in the coming months.”
The Indian automaker also announced a new venture called Vazirani Design, a design studio that will aid in EV design development. Vazirani will open up its studio for clients who wish to develop their own EV products.
“With electrification, the barriers to entry for creating vehicles are much lesser. With our technology, we want to make it even easier for startups to create EVs. I think this will lead to new brands emerging in their respective home markets,” he said. “We are happy to design a variety of unique mobility solutions for different companies around the world. “This could be designing their battery packs for their performance and range targets, or it could be the full vehicle design development, starting with the type of vehicle, occupant packaging, and performance targets.”
Vazirani's battery technology is extremely efficient and modular, meaning it could be used for other applications besides a hypercar. When asked about future models after the Shul, the CEO confirmed that “we have plans for other vehicles as well. But we would always like to be niche and do things in a unique way.”
As a company that hails from India, Vazirani has its finger on the pulse of the Indian car market. “The idea of owning an EV in India is an aspirational one, as the market is in its very nascent stage,” the CEO explained. “High custom duties of about 250-300% makes importing EVs every expensive. But we do have local brands like Tata and Mahindra, who have rolled out a few vehicles that seem to kick start the trend. EVs are far from even 1% of vehicles sold, which leaves tremendous opportunity in the near future.”
Even though the Shul hypercar is being developed in India, it will actually be built in Europe because that's where most of Vazirani's suppliers are located. Since the Shul will be built in Europe, “the EU and the US will probably see the Shul on the roads even before the Indian market.”