“Introducing the first all-electric American super car,” says the website for Renovo Motors, a small California startup that on Friday pulled the wraps off its first creation: an iconic Shelby Daytona coupe with a 1,000 pound-foot electric powertrain that can usher the coupe to 60 in 3.4 seconds. It doesn’t look like a spaceship from the outside, encased in the timeless shell that once gripped the hearts of American racing fans. Forget the BMW i8 or the Cadillac ELR, this is the car that Tesla needs to be paying attention to.
Based in Silicon Valley (because where else), Renovo says the Coupe will begin production next year in limited numbers. Limited enough to warrant the Coupe’s price of $529,000, or 7.5 Tesla Model S sedans. Only the two cars, despite being electric, don’t really play the same field.
It would essentially be like saying that if the Tesla competes with an Audi A7, the Renovo would compete with, say, an SRT Viper. Only it costs five times as much, and if you’re into the whole ’60s racing aesthetic, it looks better, too. It’s got less horsepower at 500, but more torque, in quadruple digits. Though it’s quick to 60, its top speed tops out at a rather anemic 120 miles per hour; an unfortunate but inherent side effect of electric drivetrains.
But we don’t care.
In case the story of Tesla failed to jumpstart your enthusiasm for the return of good ol’ American ingenuity and creativity, allow Renovo to do it for you. You see, the car’s battery discharges at 740 volts. That compares to the Tesla’s 375, for a point of reference. This is all instantaneous, too, so you don’t have to use up precious runway space getting to the ideal powerband; it’s all available as soon as your foot touches the pedal. Which it won’t, unless you happen to be exceptionally wealthy and are lucky enough to snag one of the limited models. There will be less than 100 of them, reportedly.
The Renovo’s biggest selling point, according to its co-founder Christopher Heiser, is that there’s virtually nothing else like it on the road, at least yet (here’s looking at you, Rimac). “We don’t have to be the one car that our customer buys,” Heiser told Automotive News. “We have to be the one car that does what we do better than anybody else.”
The range of the Renovo is limited to about 100 miles, emphasizing the fact that this isn’t really a daily driver. That’s actually on par with EVs like the Nissan Leaf or the upcoming Volkswagen e-Golf, but it’s about half the range that the Model S offers. It’s also important to remember that one could buy about 22 Leafs for the cost of one Renovo. This is a car bred specifically for track-style, occasional use, not for grand touring, long-haul comfort purposes like Aston Martin DB9s or Bentley Continentals are built for.
But when it comes to repurposing an American artifact with a modern twist, this is how it’s done. It has the stunning good looks of classic the American racing coupes, coupled with a powertrain that makes even the most modern cars blush. It lacks the throaty roar of a V8, but welcome to the new paradigm for automotive technology; in the way CDs bumped out the cassette, electric vehicles appear to be filling in for the purposes of the internal combustion engine. Slowly, admittedly, but somewhat steadily.
If you have the finds on hand to buy a Renovo, make sure you’ve also got an account in good health to fund replacement tires. You’re going to need them.