I had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Eric Rice, the CEO of Rice Advanced Engineering Systems and Research (RAESR for short). Mr. Rice’s LA-based firm is responsible for the inception of the RAESR Tachyon Speed, a fully electric Hypercar that looks straight out of a sci-fi flick! I asked him a few questions about the passion and creative process behind his first Hypercar, here are his thoughts:
In your eyes, what makes a Hypercar, a Hypercar?
In my opinion, a Hypercar is characterized by several aspects. In particular, low volume vehicle production (less than several hundred total units), a high price (over $1mill USD), high horsepower (over 1000bhp) and unique looks. I believe that a true Hypercar needs to be a complete experience that almost transforms the owner/viewer to a surreal, other-worldly experience. This experience should elevate both the owner and viewer out of the mundane into the extraordinary. A true Hypercar is a source of inspiration and motivation.
What makes a Hypercar special to you?
In my view, a true Hypercar will make everyone, car fans and non-car fans alike, drop what they are doing and take immediate notice. The experience for all that are lucky enough to be near a Hypercar leaves a long-lasting strong mental imprint. Hypercars make the world a more interesting place as rolling, visceral sculptures.
What inspired you to chase the extreme idea of building a Hypercar?
The first time I viewed the opening scene of Cannonball Run as a kid (featuring the famous black Countach in the desert), I became obsessed with cars. In particular, I was drawn to extreme (functional) vehicle design and inspired by designers such as the great Marcelo Gandini of Bertone). I also developed a passion for Motorsports (F1 and Group C endurance racing). There is, however, something special about a vehicle with insane looks and performance that can also be driven on public roads, and the quest to build cars that can excel at both (road and track) has been the goal.
It has been a long and bumpy road to arrive at where we are now, but the main impetus that has continued to push our team forward is a deep passion for what we’re doing. We are not hustling for investment money by chasing VC with the latest keywords and catchphrases. We are here to create what we believe is the ultimate EV road-going driving experience, with no compromise.
Where do you see the future of the Hypercar going?
run with the conventional (fossil fuel) ICE powertrain, however new carbon-neutral synthetic fuels may extend the life of ICE much further. Electric motors are already an incredible power density levels, and there will be continued incremental improvements in battery technology. The hypercar market will continue to be competitive, and brands will need to continue to make truly unique cars to remain relevant. RAESR plans on being at the forefront of extreme design, performance, and engineering.
How would you describe the sensation of putting the power down in a Hypercar?
The electric motor in the Tachyon Speed prototype delivers a very linear power curve, as there is only one gear. Maximum torque is maintained from zero mph to about 160mph, so the rate of acceleration doesn’t start falling off much until above that speed. This means that 60-120mph is almost as quick as 0-60mph. The sustained torque provides a feeling akin to a jet taking off. It is very difficult to match the performance of an EV Hypercar with an ICE powertrain due to the fact that EVs can always harness instantaneous throttle response, yielding a large amount of available torque, even while exiting a corner.
How often do you stretch the legs of a Hypercar at the track or the drag strip?
Since we have limited finances, not nearly as often as we would like to with our prototype Tachyon Speed. However, by the end of 2022, we are planning to push the Gen2 chassis for maximum acceleration at drag racing events.
What is the best driving road to cruise with your vehicle?
RAESR is blessed to be located near some of the best roads in the world, namely Mulholland and Angeles Crest. As we grow and build more cars, we aim to visit and drive on as many epic roads as possible. We would love to hear from car fans to know where they would like to see us drive the Tachyon!
At what point does the car become more art than car; does that point exist or is a car always a car?
While beauty is in the eye of the beholder and is quite subjective, RAESR aims to make each of its vehicles a “functional” piece of art starting from the moment the vehicle concept is born. From the first sketches to modeling in 3d CAD, to fabricating the bodywork and chassis, the whole process of creating a Hypercar is like creating a “timeless, rolling sculpture“.
What is your favorite detail on one of your Hypercars?
My favorite detail of the Tachyon Speed prototype is the fighter jet-style, tandem-seat canopy/layout.
What are you most proud of in your creation?
Given that we are a smaller startup, I am most proud of the fact that our limited team with very limited funds created something that is considered a true Hypercar by the car community. This feat shows how far hard work and passion can go! As our friend Manny Koshbin says, “Never give up!”.
What major challenges have you overcome in the creation process of the vehicle?
Our team ambitiously set out to create one of the most advanced and complicated electric powertrains. In my opinion, the biggest challenge was engineering our high voltage system. This system consists of 6 motor, 6 controllers, and an in-house designed and built battery pack.
Taking into account our small core team and limited finances, we couldn’t just “throw money” at problems that arose. The core team (the core team being myself, Chris Khoury, and Jerry Serafin) needed to roll our sleeves up in order to get creative and figure out the best (limited cost) solution to a problem. What we learned developing our powertrain in-house on the Gen1 Tachyon Speed prototype has already paid dividends, and many improvements will be showcased on our Gen2 powertrain (such as more power, range, etc…).