} ;

Beijing 2018: Isdera returns, electrically

25 April 2018 | by Chris Maillard

German sports car maker Isdera was never really a mainstream brand, with lovely if quirky cars handmade to order and a process of ordering your own bespoke vehicle which consisted mainly of phoning up the CEO. Back in the early ’90s the firm stopped selling cars and other than the occasional oddball one-off they vanished into obscurity.

Or not. In fact, the firm was always heavily involved in engineering, design and  project management – much like British counterparts Lotus – and that continued on a very successful basis both during and after their sports car days.

Then they got involved with Chinese EV startup WM, now known modestly as Weltmeister, as consultants. Weltmeister are launching a range of low- to mid-priced EVs – the current cost of their EX5 SUV is estimated to be less than €30,000, and they had a follow-up concept SUV, the EV6, at the Beijing show (pictured at bottom). 

Isdera helped Weltmeister bring some of their ideas to production, but in the process mentioned that they used to build their own cars. Which sparked (oops) the idea of doing another one – but this time electric.

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“We hadn’t made our own cars since about 1993,” said chairman Stefan Peters. “But the opportunity of using this technology and bringing the brand back to life a little was too good to miss. We have an excellent network of partners all over Europe and the world, so we harnessed their knowhow.

“The shell of this car is a huge carbon fibre monocoque, built by one of our network who often works on Le Mans cars and so on. The doors are carbon fibre too. So it weighs less than 1700kg, aiding both range and performance .”

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Yes, of course it’s electric – four-wheel driven by two hefty 300kW motors, yet despite its 0-100kph time of 3.8 seconds (“you run out of rubber and grip well before you run out of power,” admits Stefan) it is said to have a range in the region of 500km. It is a running car too, not just a concept. “We’ve never built a car that you can’t drive, ” says the chairman, “and we’re not going to start now.”

Unusually for an electric sports car, it has a 2+2 configuration. “We thought about this,” says Stefan, “and it seems that the sort of early adopters who would enjoy this car, possibly Tesla owners, would prefer a 2+2 coupé to a supercar. Anyway, there are already plenty of those about.”

It has a vaguely Alpine-like air to it, particularly as the Isdera is relatively compact and vaguely retro, though the blue of the show car certainly helped bring that to mind. But it’s good to see Germany’s Lotus back building cars, and this one looks as though it might attract a wealthy but discerning customer base. If their sales strategy has evolved beyond just making a phone call to the boss, of course.

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Weltmeister’s concept SUV, the EX6

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Beijing 2018