This is another long post – please be patient – there’s music at the end!!
It’s also one of those strange posts. I’ve actually had quite a difficult time putting it together, figuring out exactly what line to take.
On one hand, there’s a troublesome report about the NLV Quant and the owner/founder/muse behind NLV – and on the other hand, there’s the unknown possibility of the car actually being viable.
And quite aside from all that, there’s the downright curious and fascinatingly grooooooooovy.
What it all adds up to is yet another call for someone from the Koenigsegg Group to stand up and talk about their resources and plans.
The troublesome report
The troublesome report comes from a Swiss journal called WOZ, which I’m told is a reliable publication with a slightly left-wing tilt to it. This story certainly seems to be well researched and written and poses some serious questions, especially if the development of the Quant is a pillar of Koenigsegg’s bid and application for EIB loans (though personally, I think it’s Koenigsegg’s relationship with Cargine that’s more relevant in this context).
The report in written in German, so you can do a Googletrans yourself, read the original or just peruse my summary points, below.
One thing I should fill you in on, right from the beginning, is that the NLV in the company name NLV Solar AG, stands for Dr. Nunzio La Vecchia (the “Dr” title is written in the article, though I don’t see it on the NLV Solar website or his personal site. It is used on a site from another of his businesses: Juno Technology Products).
The report claims…..
- The Quant plan was a considerable part of Koenigsegg getting the nod to purchase Saab. Part of K-Segg’s appeal was their capacity to innovate and bring new environmental technologies, which the author takes as referring to the Quant.
- That La Vecchia claims a PhD, though he refuses to disclose where he obtained it.
- He’s 44, of Italian immigrant descent and quite loaded with money (more below).
One of the most curious bits, if I’m translating this correctly, is that whilst all his technology stuff appears quite brilliant, and whilst he’s got the house(s) and car(s) that display astute business acumen – no-one in scientific circles there seems to recognise him or give his theories credence. Again, this is my interpretation of an internet translation, so I might be wrong there.
The dot points continue….
…..the article claims:
- Koenigsegg and NLV Solar’s collaboration on the Quant was fairly shortly before the Geneva show where it was displayed. (The fact that they got this car designed and built so quick is mentioned on Bard Eker’s design website as proof of the capability of the Eker design group – SW). All technical information in the press material refers to NLV for further information, but when asked, they were told that all information is held in confidence for commercial reasons.
- They quote several experts in physics who have had a look at the brief information. One referred to it as ‘hot air’ and was astounded that he claims his technology is almost 10% more efficient than the best technology known commercially in current terms.
- Another said “This is a quantum car for the Auto Salon, or the headline, but not for an ecologically meaningful mobility.”
- Another said “The solar envelope is used to reach admittedly may contribute little, because the achievable performance in full sun is a tiny fraction of the maximum or the average required power”
- Dr Vecchia’s reply to these opinions: “The Quant is primarily an electric car with an accumulator.” Pressed for more he said “This is subject to commercial secrecy.”
Now that’s strange enough in itself, but then there’s the questions they raise in relations to activities concerned with bringing the Quant to life:
- His brochure claims that the company has rented over 8,000 sq meters of space from Siemens for the building of several prototype vehicles.
- The real estate broker for the property counters: “In the premises are currently no activities.”
Their conclusion is as follows:
- The experts (and the writer) all seem to agree that this project, if it is to be considered a chance, will require massive investment.
- The writer concludes that’s why Koenigsegg are in this race, because they could take advantage of NLV’s green credentials and La Vecchia could access to more funds.
It’s a case, once again, of there being this wonderful veneer of sophistication and technology but with an unknown level of depth if you scratch the surface.
And it’s the unknown that’s causing a whole bunch of questions to be raised. When I first read about the Quant, I thought the concept sounded great but it seemed like all other concept cars – fantastic idea but unrealistic for mass production and sale.
Then reports started to surface that they wanted Saab’s manufacturing capacity because they want to actually mass produce these. You then have to ask the question as to whether that’s viable or a fool’s errand and it’s upon asking that question you’re met with roadblock answers.
There are two key technologies involved in the Quant.
The one that takes the limelight is the photovoltaic solar cell coating that’s all over the exterior surfaces. This is based on iron pyrite – which is ominously nicknamed “Fool’s Gold” for its appearance, but genuinely of interest in solar technology. This is a source of contention because of the efficiency claims made about NLV’s method, which is claimed to be 50% efficient. The best anyone can do at the moment is around 42%, so this is a quantum leap.
The other is perhaps more significant as it will provide the real driving power to the car (the solar coating is glamorous and a great way to sell the idea, but in reality won’t provide much driving power). This is a battery system that reportedly will have a 500km range, will propel the car to very high speeds (270 km/h) and all that whilst carrying up to four people – with just a 20 minute recharge cycle.
One could be forgiven for asking why, if this was actually do-able in any sort of mass-market way, would GM have spent billions of dollars and several years developing the 40-mile range Volt?
Of course, this would imply that the Quant would be as affordable as the Volt, which it wouldn’t be.
Wired magazine state that it won’t come any time soon, either, saying NLV would need to start doing pregnancy scans on women now to establish contact with future customers.
Despite all this, there’s the outside chance that he’s on to something that can be made into a production vehicle in the relative near term.
The big question is whether or not this tech is genuine, or vapourware. Tesla faced similar questions (and still do, occasionally) and their way to overcome the suspiscion was to produce actual driving prototypes.
Over to you, Messrs La Vecchia and Von Koenigsegg.
The fascinatingly groooooovy
You may think from all of the above that I’m wary of Mr La Vecchia and cynical about what he does. That’s not the case. I’d just like to know more and I’d love for someone from The Koenigsegg Group to come out and address these concerns and others that have been raised.
People want to have confidence in this new operation.
Mr La Vecchia’s sizeable wallet is mentioned prominently in the WOZ article. He certainly seems to have the hobbies of a wealthy man – he flies his own plane (Swiss-Italian Bob Lutz?), has several homes and races a Maserati.
But the hobby that I enjoyed the most is his music. If I make it back to Europe, I might have to bring my bass along for a jam!
Not only does this guy run several companies, hold multiple patents and look a little like a young Elvis, he also records his own music – and I don’t mind saying that I liked it quite a lot.
In fact, in what must be a first for an automotive company, this guy even has his own Youtube channel with two freaking film clips on it. (Let’s see Bob Lutz in a Travolta suit doing this!)
If you like smooth-with-groove then you should have a listen. I could well imagine the song “Emotion” as a backing track at a Saab function, actually.
Nunzio La Vecchia is a fascinating guy. I wish we knew more at the substance level, and not just the glossy stuff on the surface.