The EV market badly needs more affordable models, but there’s still a lot of money to be made with higher-end models. This is why so many expensive electric vehicles are still being launched, and even new luxury brands. The latest company to throw their hat in the ring is Italian newcomer AEHRA. Starting with an electric SUV that doesn’t look like it, AEHRA hopes to deliver an unparalleled luxury driving experience. But in an increasingly crowded market, can it compete?
AEHRA’s first SUV product was officially launched in Italy about a week ago. The company says it’s an SUV, but the cab-forward design and low stance really belie that categorization. In fact, while looks are always subjective, as SUVs go the AEHRA is quite handsome. It’s not a “classic” retro throwback, nor does it have the chunky look typical of most SUVs. Instead, it has clean, angular lines that are very futuristic. The only hint that this is an SUV rather than a hypercar is the relatively high roof and black wheel arches, filled with large wheels that have plenty of room to travel.
AEHRA has also maximized the wow factor by outfitting its SUV with Lamborghini-style doors that the company calls “Elytra”. These open upwards, which will always catch the attention of passers-by. The Tesla Model X’s Falcon doors are a huge crowd-pleaser, but they’re not exactly cheap to implement compared to standard doors. They are more complex, tend to require electrical and/or hydraulic action, and may be more prone to malfunction. But the Elytra doors cement the AEHRA SUV’s goal of being an upscale, ostentatious experience that makes a statement about its owner.
Although only the exterior design has been fully revealed, AEHRA has also hinted at some of the technical specifications of its SUV. The battery would be 120 kWh, but the target autonomy is close to 800 km, which would be exceptional for an electric SUV, even very aerodynamic. The latest Model S, which Tesla says has a drag coefficient of just 0.208 Cd, can only reach 405 miles from 100 kWh, so AEHRA will have to deploy sophisticated efficiency measures to achieve 25% more autonomy with a 20% larger battery, in an SUV. The company mentioned a drag coefficient of 0.21 Cd but, given that it’s no better than a Tesla Model S, aerodynamics alone won’t be enough.
The autonomy objective is even more surprising when we know that AEHRA plans to equip its SUV with a tri-motor system (one at the front, two at the rear) delivering 805 hp. That equates to 600kW and somewhere between a standard Tesla Model S and a Plaid version. This level of power will deliver phenomenal performance, but releasing it will certainly mean that 500 miles of range will not be available. Still, even though the true range is closer to 400 miles, the AEHRA SUV will be a mighty mile-charger for long drives – assuming it lives up to the specs promised.
We don’t even know what the AEHRA will look like inside yet, although the company has said it will be “minimalist”, which is a departure for an Italian design. AEHRA also said the SUV will cost well into six-figure territory, which seems to be the direction for most EVs recently. The car will be built around a full carbon fiber monocoque, which could help reduce weight for this range target. AEHRA is also following the trend of sustainability in its production processes and materials, saying the carbon in its carbon fiber monocoque will be recycled and recyclable.
It’s always good to see a bold new player in any market. The exterior design of the AEHRA SUV would be a welcome sight on public roads, although at the expected price we probably won’t see much of it. AEHRA is also promising a sedan design in February 2023 and plans to start delivering cars in 2025. If the sedan follows the same aesthetic cues as the SUV, it’s likely to be another great car. However, I wish a few other manufacturers would tackle the growing need for affordability in the EV market, now that the long-awaited $25,000 Tesla seems to be gone.
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