Quick quiz. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions our neighboring nation, Sri Lanka? Tea, perhaps? Or the tourism industry fueled by scuba diving and the pristine beaches? Whatever it is, you’d certainly not expect cars, leave alone supercars, to be something you’d expect from this sleepy island. But they have done it, and done it in a way that will make atleast some established makers sit up and take notice.
Meet the Vega, an all-electric supercar from a software company called CodeGen.
As BBC reports, entrepreneur Dr. Harsha Subasinghe envisioned the Vega not only as an all-electric thrill machine, but a demonstration of Sri Lankans’ ability to develop advanced transportation technologies. Advanced, in this case, means a 900 horsepower and 720Nm machine that can do the 0-100 kmph sprint in just 3.5 seconds. The whole shebang tips the scales at just 1360 kilos, which may not sound like much by supercar standards, but is still commendable considering the bank of lithium-ion batteries onboard. Top speed is pegged to be somewhere around 250kmph, and the Vega can reportedly travel 250kms on a single charge.
The low kerb weight has been achieved thanks to a carbon-fibre chassis, and underneath it rests dual electric motors sending power to the rear wheels.
As for the makers, CodeGen is primarily a Silicon Valley-style developer of software for the travel and tourism industry. This all-new project is headed by Beshan Kulapala, a 13-year Intel veteran with a PhD in electrical engineering, and his team comprising of over 30 engineers and other personnel.
“Getting people to believe that a complex engineering project like a supercar can come from Sri Lanka is a huge challenge for us,” says Kulapala. “This country produces some of the best engineers in the world, but in the past we’ve been afraid to commit to innovative product development for fear of losing, or being ridiculed.”
“The lithium battery modules have a number of innovations in packaging, safety, battery management, system hardware, and firmware and software. Our eDiff [electronic differential] will also run cutting-edge algorithms to control the vehicle in different road and driving conditions,” he added.
Apparently, Dr. Subasinghe, a super car enthusiast who has driven exotic cars across the world, envisioned the project when he found out the cost of importing a Lamborghini or a Tesla Electric supercar was around US$ 1.1-1.3 million, which was available abroad for around US$ 400,000. And he’s pricing his baby at that same price point.
Do we see the Vega giving some sleepless nights to established makers like Lamborghini, Ferrari, and even its closest competitor by design, Tesla? Frankly, no. The bodywork looks too simplistic, a mish-mash of design ideas borrowed from past supercars, and that rear end is just plain ugly. As will most niche manufacturers, reliability will also be a concern.
But if you’re one of those Saudi oil barons or a Monaco price, the Vega is still worth a dekko as something that can truly stand out from the usual crop of Lamborghinis and McLarens. It is also a commendable effort for a country that ahs previously never made a dent on the international automotive scene. For that it gets out thumbs-up.