Business

Family business poised to take on Tesla with 3D printed supercar

Father and son team, Kevin and Lukas Czinger, have created a hypercar that could undermine Elon Musk’s reputation as the sector’s top innovator.

Their Divergent 3D initiative is backed by Chinese/Hong Kong investors, led by Li Ka-Shing’s Horizons Ventures, and Blue Ivy Ventures representing Yale alumni. Its VC investors include Synapse Partners and Dan Skaff’s Radicle Impact.

3D printing is central to the Czingers plan to manufacture 80 cars under their C21 brand, which will retail at $2 million. In due course, they want to use it to supply other markets. 

The Czingers want to develop autonomous manufacturing facilities which can smooth out assembly line hitches

The C21 seats two people, one behind the other, to achieve aerodynamic thrust. It has V8 engines powering the front and back wheels, plus an electric motor taking its power to 1,250 horsepower and producing a top speed of 281 mph. 

Kevin Czinger

Its relatively light body is made from carbon fibre, aluminium and titanium, helping the car accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 1.9 seconds. 

In August, the C21 set an all-time record for a circuit of California’s Laguna Seca race track, beating McLaren Senna into second place.

Reviews have broadly been positive – sometimes glowing. In a recent blog, Will Lockett said: “The Czinger can  accelerate like a Tesla and beat any Ferrari, Porsche or McLaren around a track.”

He likes the way the Czingers have used A1, virtual reality 3D printing and advanced robotics to make cars fast, efficient and easy to drive. They have merged software and hardware applications to create an adaptive production system. 

Over time, the Czingers want to develop autonomous manufacturing facilities which can smooth out assembly line hitches. 

Because different parts are produced on the spot using 3D printing, the Czingers can update, and customize, each car for each customer.  Robots can slot together parts without any need for tools.

Longer-term, different countries would each have a Czinger factory, using 3D printing to manufacture models on the spot, potentially eliminating supply chain problems. Clients could even have the opportunity to buy “made-to-measure” cars customized to fit their bodies.

It is too early to say whether the C21 hybrid rollout will lead to the creation of car models for the masses But it could lead to significant cost savings compared to the large amounts of capital rivals have sunk into their traditional assembly lines. The Czingers’ modular factories would also save on carbon emissions, compared to electric cars. 

At the Geneva Motor Show this year, Kevin Czinger, a former CEO of Coda Automotive, told Top Gear: “I want this car company to be five blocks ahead of anybody else on the planet in creating these tools and expressing them as the cutting edge of the mind.”

He has teamed up with SLM Solutions of Germany to develop its 3D printing options.

Tesla’s share price has fallen 12.5% this month following an official probe into its solar panels, Elon Musk’s share sales and market setbacks.

But growing competition for electric vehicles could pose greater risks for Musk. 

According to Lockett: “If I were Elon, I would keep one eye on Czinger. Right now, they are one of the few companies with technology advanced enough to eclipse Tesla.”

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