- ABOUT US _ Drive is an Automotive Design Consultancy building long term relationships with design-driven companies worldwide, designing products that enhance their brand's DNA and position in the market place.
Drive were approached by Zenos Cars because of their experience of designing for a startup car company. Zenos Cars’ business plan involved the design and build of a range of cars. The E10 concept marked the culmination of an intense design and development period. Drive and Zenos worked hand-in-hand to lay down the foundation for a “lightweight, affordable, fun to drive” car, that fitted a new range of thrilling and accessible sports cars.
The new startup company founders Ansar Ali and Mark Edwards, explained their unique market proposition with a few key words that would define their brand. Drive had to create a design language that would embody all of their aspirations, for a completely new British sports car brand. The E10 would be a mid-engined, carbon fibre tubbed car priced at less than £25,000.
“Drive’s strength was their listening, understanding and articulating the market and our type of customer needs – the way they interrogated, challenged and interpreted them were in alignment with how we saw it.” Ansar Ali
A challenges during the initial design process was achieving the delicate balance between a friendly, approachable look fitting the brand values, with a thrilling, lightweight track day car. With affordability in mind, Drive wanted to highlight the innovation of the carbon composite material and reflect the intelligence of the styling. The break up of panels, wings and tub allowing ease of production and lower repair costs compared to the single clam mouldings used on competitor products. Drive’s designers, working closely with engineers and composite manufacturers Bright Lite Structures, developed the final break down of parts and assemblies.
The close relationship between Drive and Zenos, and the openness of the management team were key to ensure that the design and business needs aligned at every stage of he project.
The public’s response to the car’s design was measured by the 40 deposits taken from customers before they had even seen it run. This justification of the product, only raised the pressure to deliver on their promise to have the production model ready for January 2015. Drive and Zenos launched into a rapid production development phase sensitive to the fact that the car’s appearance couldn’t alter significantly, but taking the opportunity to tune the car’s character and balance.
This phase involved working with suppliers on feasibility whilst ensuring manufacturing costs were kept on target keeping to the business plan and budget. The secret of the E10’s affordability relative to its performance, is off-the-shelf Ford components engine, gearbox, and brakes. The innovative composite tub made from recycled carbon fibre that offers 70 per cent of the lightness and stiffness of pure carbon-fibre for a tenth of the cost.
The interior’s design, built around the ideal driving positon, the quality of the panels and fit had to exceed what would be expected at the cars price point. This approach saw Zenos Cars has take more than 110 deposits and a first year production run being approximately 70. For Zenos’s founders Ansar Ali and Mark Edwards, the E10 represents the culmination of a dream.For Drive Design, it provides a mobile showcase for its design strategies for startup companies searching for the kind of collaborative, ground-up design approach that only Drive can deliver.
“Drive completely believed in and understood our vision right from the beginning. They committed themselves in every respect to developing the design of the E10, and helped us deliver a car that looks fantastic, great handling and well engineered” Ansar Ali.The Zenos E10 project is the essence of what we do at Drive. We work with clients, like startup Zenos, and help them take their idea through to production whilst understanding the business needs.
23hrs 55mins and the suspension collapsed.
Challenge yourself, be prepared, don’t assume, have a plan, be adaptable and never give up.
3 weeks beforehand I was offered a drive in the ’96 Nurburgring 24 hours race – a complex track, new car, lack of recent racing – a challenge and opportunity I just couldn’t miss.
But could I do myself justice and not let the team down?
At the time I was working in the Mitsubishi Design Centre near Frankfurt, so meeting the UK team wasn’t possible but driving the legendary 13 mile Nordschleife was! The GP part of the circuit would be learnt at the event itself. With fellow designer Tony Pettman strapped in taking notes, 3 laps were completed before the brakes and tyres cried enough. Not perfect preparation but I gathered as much information as I could to reduce the uncertainties.
Arriving for the race, being a UK team, I had assumed the car would be right-hand drive. It wasn’t. The track picture in my head had to move by a metre and initially approaching left corners the right wheels were touching the grass and I was missing the clipping point. During my first practice laps, times dropped by 10s of seconds, but I was soon on the pace.
The team’s plan for the race was to coincide the fueling and brake maintenance stops, so 2 hour stints for the 3 drivers for a consistent and fast but not punishing pace. This was a marathon not a sprint.
The race for us wasn’t about outright victory, that was for the works teams and this time included the only female winner Sabine Reck (Schmitz). We aimed to win our class and after 18 hours the class leader was just over a lap ahead, when an unexpected failure cost us 5 laps or 55 minutes, fixed by our resourceful team who had been awake all night. A top 3 finish became the goal and the strategy changed to longer stints driven flat out.
For 2.5 hours I had the exhilaration of driving quickly around the notorious Nurburgring, through smoke and smell of campers’ BBQs. The ABS failed half way through my stint but still the lap times came down as each lap I learnt more about this incredible circuit. Handing over driver duties the speed was maintained – never giving up. We closed in on 3rd place, when with 6 minutes left the front suspension of the Subaru collapsed approaching the finish line having completed 100 laps.
Our car, the only Mercedes, passed the stricken car to complete 101 laps for 3rd place in class, a great team effort.
Events outside our control can disrupt our plans, the last year being a perfect example, but at Drive we adapted as individuals and a team, with new methods, technologies, clients and projects. I often challenge myself, not always successfully, but it can have its rewards, as it did on this occasion.
https://bit.ly/3zZTaAK Nurburgring Track
Drive recently demonstrated Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Experiences at our studio to a number of our clients.
Attendees were able to experience virtual reality environments created for design review, new yacht interiors and as well as walk around and sit in virtual vehicles.
Drive have been creating both Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) applications for automotive and transportation clients, drawing on our experience of design, digital modelling and high quality CG imaging techniques.
Recent Projects have included a VR train interior for a b2b exhibition, an AR App for the MG SUV launch, car configurator and a b2b sales and promotional App for Mirus Aircraft Seating.
Our creative team embrace these immersive technologies because Virtual Reality as a storyteller, has the power to connect, communicate and engage audiences by enabling them to experience a story in a way no other media can.
McLaren Special Operations’ marketing department commissioned us to produce a number of CGI car images for their car brochure. This animation shows the the work that goes into creating a CGI car image for a brochure.
We believe a CGI visual should tell a story, and this one captures the moment when a young boy becomes fascinated by cars, as he sees the special edition McLaren MSO 650S.
After discussion and signing-off the storyboard content of the shot, we arranged the photo shoot to take place in London. Following a scout of suitable locations, one in Holborn was decided on and the shoot was set up.
On the day, the models were positioned and talked through their poses, while the photographer set up the equipment. A number of shots were taken to get the composition right, using VRED to position a cgi car and place the models on the trial back plates, and we then waited for appropriate natural lighting.
British weather being what it is, it soon became clear that we were going to have to re-work the photos in post production to replicate the requisite sunny day look.
We shot the models with backplate and support material for the lighting and reflections of the CG car and then reviewed all of the content before heading off to our retouching suite.
The following movie shows the build up of the CGI car image through removal of unwanted elements in the scene, added dappled lighting and adjusted shadows to give the image the warm sunny afternoon appearance.
Get in touch to discuss your requirements or just to get some advice on what is possible.
Drive is often asked to provide business design advice for startup mobility vehicle projects. Many low volume vehicle manufacturers have benefited from our understanding of the challenges that businesses face in developing and establishing a successful vehicle in the market.
Niche vehicles have always provided opportunities for entrepreneurs to build successful businesses but now more than ever they are providing a solution to specific transportation problems. This is leading to opportunities for OEMs to use niche vehicles to expand their brand into new mobility markets, become leaders by redefining a market or exploiting new technologies.
Low volume vehicles provide unique challenges in the product offering, manufacturing constraints and the commercial demands. Drive have been involved in numerous projects and have built up experience of the various approaches to the business proposal, from designers wishing to produce their concept, technology led business opportunities and brand experience products. Many low volume manufacturers such as Hennessey, Apex Motors, Delta Motorsport, Zenos Cars, Caterham Cars and Lightning Car Company have benefited from Drive’s expertise at various stages during their projects.
Whilst the funding for niche vehicle projects is provided from varying sources depending on the circumstances, the necessary underlying business case has to be rigorously tested and proved just the same, before investing of valuable time, resources and money. Drive’s in depth experience can help build the background to the project, give crucial investor confidence in the participating parties and provide experience and guidance throughout project timeline.
Through the development and refinement of the design our experienced team maintain the initial design intent whilst answering the engineering and economic challenges posed by these unique projects.
Drive’s understanding of the difficulties facing niche vehicle manufacturers (NVMs) trying to establish a company or product make them ideal partners to be involved in the development of a robust product concept and commercial strategy, whilst helping identify design and manufacturing efficiencies through collaboration with strategic partners.
Not every venture can be the success that everyone is looking for but minimising the risk by being fully aware of the undertaking at the start, with suitable gateways mapped out so that owners and investors can make informed decisions before embarking on the next phase, help to increase the chances of a sustainable business.