A pulse-pounding supercar aims to improve the way cars are built

A pulse-pounding supercar aims to improve the way cars are built

The Czinger 21C is a decadent supercar designed to keep car enthusiasts raging on social media. It has twisty turns, sets a record-breaking lap time – and will sell for $2 million.

Like Ford, Tucker and DeLorean before him, Kevin Czinger, the founder of the fledgling auto company named after him, plans to change the auto industry — and not just by making one-off supercars. His vision is to build a more environmentally friendly and cost-efficient digital car manufacturing system.

The 21C is made from an alchemy of data science and advanced 3D printers, producing recyclable metal alloys that eliminate the need for tools. It is a process developed by Divergent, a supplier also founded and managed by Mr. Czinger.

“When tools are digital, you have a lot more influence in designing, manufacturing and assembling,” he said during a video call.

Divergent’s technology forms the basis of the vehicles of the Czinger brand. The 21C is the statement car that demonstrates the flexibility of this system.

His performance credentials are impressive as far as supercars are concerned. The hybrid engine is a 2.99-liter V8 with twin turbochargers, which has electric motors on both front wheels. It produces 1,250 horsepower, a number that can be dialed up to 1,350 with a $165,000 upgrade package. The car runs on ethanol e85 fuel, but carbon-recycled ethanol is preferred. The top speed is 253 miles per hour.

In September, driver Joel Miller clocked a record lap time of 2 minutes 11.33 seconds at the Circuit of the Americas in the 21C, five seconds faster than the previous record. But the ambitions of Mr. Czinger go beyond the 21C’s over-the-top 1.9-second sprint from 0 to 60.

“You’re creating a new brand, so you want to show why this brand should exist,” he said. “If you’re going to say this is groundbreaking technology and dominant performance, that’s the best way to show it.” He will make 80 cars in two variants, a low-drag and a high-downforce version.

The 21C is the first of several high-profile vehicles planned for the Czinger portfolio, which will be sold by traditional luxury car dealerships, including O’Gara Coach in Southern California, Prestige Imports in Miami Beach and Pfaff Auto in Canada. The first deliveries are scheduled for late 2023 and Czinger says it is almost sold out. A four-seat coupé will be unveiled at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in August.

Mr. Czinger, the youngest of five children, has been fascinated by cars since his childhood in Cleveland. He was into building minibikes and drag racing. His older brothers were Chevrolet dealership mechanics. He attended Yale, where he was a soccer defense star and later earned a law degree. He worked as a federal prosecutor and for Goldman Sachs.

In 2006, Mr. Czinger Coda, a China-backed electric vehicle company in Los Angeles. Coda made its US debut in 2012 with a subcompact sedan, based on the Hafei Saibao, that produced 88 electric miles. It failed to attack the United States and Coda filed for bankruptcy in 2013.

In 2015, Mr. Czinger founded Divergent and showcased his first concept vehicle, the Blade, on the 2016 auto show circuit. It was the first car to feature a 3D printed body and chassis.

Mr. Czinger has the attention of the additive manufacturing industry, the umbrella for the 3D printing industry.

“Other 3D companies don’t have the software, and they don’t have the editing either,” says his son, Lukas Czinger, who is also a founding member of the Czinger brand and directs operations and production for both the brand and the company. divergent. † “There is no company that could make the rear frame of the 21C.”

The Divergent Adaptive Production System is being used to make parts for eight car brands that the company plans to announce later this year. Parts include front ends and rear frames, as well as integrated braking systems and suspension components. Divergent is looking to partner with automakers to deliver the fully integrated chassis.

“The supercar is a symbol of what could be a radical change in the way we make cars,” said John Casesa, senior managing director at Guggenheim Securities and former president of Ford Motor. “If he is successful, it will be an earthquake for the industry.

“Everything changes. Design changes. The way software is built. You use powdered metals instead of rolled steel. You print these things with these high-speed printers, and then you can assemble them with tool-less tools. You can create a Ford front end do and turn the rear into a Chrysler rear like that.”

Mr Czinger plans to build his portfolio of high-performance vehicles to compete with the Bugattis and McLarens of the world. He references intergalactic podrace scenes in “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace” as inspiration. Looking to the long term, Mr. Czinger microfactories in communities that enable new players to enter the automotive industry at a lower cost of entry.

“The biggest dream of all is not just the pure rational economy and the environment,” he said. “They are very small creative teams that have no barrier to actually physically create what they can imagine.”

Czinger and Divergent operate from offices in Southern California and a manufacturing facility that includes a 3D printing production facility in a climate-controlled room, an assembly room for vehicle subframes, a lab for dynamic and static durability testing, and additional space for crash testing, corrosion and corrosion testing. environmental testing. The company has acquired additional 3D printers from the German company SLM Solutions as part of a joint venture.

Czinger’s design is led by Dave O’Connell, who spent 25 years at Mitsubishi Motors and conceived the shape of the mid-engine 21C two-door coupe.

“I’m forgetting everything I’ve learned in over 20 years, including old-fashioned car building,” said Mr. O’Connell. “We can reduce the size of structural parts to contour the body, to give us more efficient aerodynamics. We don’t design for production or styling for production. We don’t have those handcuffs.”

The speed and flexibility of digital production ensures flexibility in the interior space. The passenger sits directly behind the driver, a tandem concept used in motorsport. “We’ve got more shoulder room than an S-class Mercedes,” Mr. O’Connell said. The process makes it easier to make custom parts such as a steering wheel variant.

Mr Czinger unveiled the 21C at an event in London in March 2020, the week the world came to a standstill. After Covid-related layoffs, he has 154 employees again. His engineers and scientists have worked at Ferrari, Pagani, Boeing and Apple, and for Formula 1 teams. He said 37 people worked on the 21C supercar.

Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst at Guidehouse Insights, called the Czinger 21 “a very niche product, but if you can find a way to use that to get a faster cycle time for the components, then it can be applied,” he said. .

“There is definitely interest in the industry,” he continued. “The automotive industry has been using 3D printing for prototype parts for a long time. You can prototype faster and go through more iterations. The goal for the industry is to be able to use it for volume production.”

BMW, Ford and the Volkswagen Group are investing in additive manufacturing. But industry experts such as John Hart, founder and director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Additive and Digital Advanced Production Technologies, warn that 3D printing may have its limitations.

“One barrier is the cost of 3D printing, which is much more than casting,” says Mr. Hart, who oversees collaboration between the MIT center and automakers. “If cost weren’t an object, there aren’t any factories today that do 3D printing as a service at the scale needed to support the automotive industry.”

Mr. Casesa first met Mr. Czinger when he was running Coda. “I found him to be a brilliant, interesting man with a lot of humility,” said Mr. Casesa, who has visited the Divergent factory twice. Despite all this talk about Industry 4.0 and 3D printing, this is kind of the real thing, and it’s just not understood yet.”