2017 Thunder Power Sedan: An Electric Car Concept with Untold Potential


“Wants to take on Tesla” is quickly becoming an overused cliché in automotive journalism. But it’s impossible to look at this battery-electric concept car, the Thunder Power Sedan, and not think of Elon Musk’s fastback four-door. In proportions, promised performance, and presentation overall, it’s clear that this previously unheard-of automotive startup wants to be cross-shopped with the Model S.

Just look at the specs: Thunder Power says its sedan will pack either a 308-hp or a 429-hp chassis-mounted battery pack, offering just over 400 miles of range, with a quick-charge function that gives 186 miles of range after just 30 minutes of charging. The company says the 429-hp model will do zero to 62 mph in less than five seconds and will top out at 155 mph.

Oh, and Thunder Power also says this four-door sedan will be the first in a whole range of vehicles. “The flexible chassis design based upon a unique modular system allows the range to be extended from sedan to SUV, compact, and crossover variants,” the press release claims. Sounds a lot like that other electric-car startup, the one whose sports-sedan underpinnings will eventually power a gull-winged crossover and a compact sedan.

The styling, too, is at least vaguely Tesla-reminiscent, with its low-set ovoid “mouth,” somewhat generically bulbous profile, and a dashboard defined by one enormous digital display. We won’t go so far as to call it a Model S knockoff—there are only so many ways you can package a sedan and still have it look like a conventional four-door. And some of the design decisions, like that rippling-pond grille, are a bit more, uh, adventurous than the reserved Tesla.

So where did this concept come from? The short answer is Taiwan. Thunder Power started out as Motomax, a Taiwanese tool-and-manufacturing company founded in 1987. A name change, a new Milan-based R&D team, and a body designed by Zagato, and this is where they are today.

One member of the team that spawned this brainchild is worth mentioning. Thunder Power’s press release names Dr. Ing. Peter Tutzer, formerly technical director at Lotus and an engineer on the Bugatti Veyron project, as chief technical officer. Tutzer’s name was recently attached to failed supercar startup Laraki, a Morocco-based offshoot of a luxury yacht maker that has shown three different, equally outrageous supercar designs, and whose website and Facebook profile remain under construction, having last mentioned a car project in 2013.

But as any good stockbroker’s fine print will assure you, past performance (whether good or bad) does not guarantee a future outcome. For now, all we have to go on is Thunder Power’s own claims, and the two vehicles the nascent automaker had on display at the Frankfurt auto show. The street car looked well-built for a concept, if sparsely detailed. The seats were unadorned; the dashboard held only a full-width digital touch screen instead of buttons and dials. To Thunder Power’s credit, there was an all-wheel-drive racing variant on display, perhaps promising a commitment to motorsport that’s been noticeably absent from Tesla to date.



Thunder Power says it will launch a production vehicle in Europe in 2017, China in 2018, and the U.S. sometime after that. Production will take place both in China and at an as-yet undisclosed European facility. Can this company, unknown just weeks ago, crack into the electric-car market? Thunder Power faces significant resistance, and the best we can say about the company at the moment is that it has unknown potential.

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2015 Frankfurt auto show full coverage


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