Wiesmann ready to produce electric SUVs

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Wiesmann Project Thunderball 1

Wiesmann tells us it wants to expand its line-up – and a luxury Bentley rival is on its radar.

German specialist sports car maker Wiesmann is considering branching out beyond its trademark two-seaters into more luxury-focused models, including SUVs.

The prospect of a bold new era for Wiesmann comes under fresh ownership and with access to advanced EV drivetrain technology.

CEO Roheen Berry took charge of the car marque in 2015 when it was acquired by his family’s multinational technology firm, Contec Global.

99 weissman suv front quarter render

In an exclusive interview, he told Automotive Daily Network partner Autocar that the new 494kW Wiesmann Project Thunderball electric roadster will serve as a showpiece for a new-look lineup that will be expanded and electrified as the firm continues on the comeback trail.

“The Thunderball is to show the world what we can do. It is already quite an incredible car compared to others that do what it does, at a fraction of the price,” he said, explaining that electrification will allow Wiesmann to ramp up its production volumes and diversify.

“I won’t say electric cars are easier to make but they’re definitely faster, so we should be able to do more cars at a far quicker rate.”

Wiesmann Project Thunderball 2

One model on the cards under this expansion is a luxurious electric SUV, positioned as a rival to upcoming EVs from Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Aston Martin. It is likely to be aimed squarely at the US and Chinese markets, where the new Thunderball has received an “incredible” response from prospective buyers, according to Berry.

He didn’t confirm that a Wiesmann SUV is imminent but did hint that it’s a strong possibility. “We will see how the SUV market goes,” said Berry. “We’ve spent so much money making this platform and software, and getting so much out of it. We’re not in any hurry, but if we have enough customers and there is a demand, it would not be a very difficult transition for us to do.”

Wiesmann Project Thunderball 5

Wiesmann’s EV platform has been developed in partnership with German firm Roding, which also provided the technical basis for the radical Audi Quattro-inspired E-Legend EL1. The platform has been engineered with a focus on retaining the brand’s trademark dynamic agility while incorporating advanced functionality, such as variable regenerative brakes, which mimic a conventional gearbox, and 300kW charging capability.

An SUV on this architecture would have less of an obvious sporting focus than the Project Thunderball, but it would not signal the start of a targeted shift into the mainstream for Wiesmann. Berry said: “We always want to keep this as a very luxurious brand. We’re not trying to go out and make thousands of cars. We want to keep much more of a community feel. We want the brand to come first. It’s not about going and making massive profits. It’s about really reviving the brand and keeping it around forever.”

But he added: “I think there are quite a few SUVs coming. We’ll see where the market is, if there’s a demand, and if we want to move into that space.”

Wiesmann Project Thunderball 3

New takes on a familiar roadster

Wiesmann is also plotting a second generation of its MF3 sports car as a highly compact and agile entry point into its line-up – but has yet to decide on combustion or electric power.

Roheen Berry said a smaller, more urban-friendly sports car “will suddenly start to look very appealing” as electrification continues.

Wiesmann Project Thunderball teaser images 3

He suggested that in the future, Wiesmann could introduce “a much more affordable version of the MF3” – and even has two existing prototypes waiting in the wings – but added that whether it would use an EV powertrain or combustion engine, which potentially could be supplied by technical partner BMW, depends on evolving emissions regulations.

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