Drive were approached by Zenos Cars because of our experience 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 company founders Ansar Ali and Mark Edwards, explained their unique market proposition and we extracted 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.
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 understand designing for a startup car company like Zenos. We help them take their idea through to production whilst understanding their business needs.