Founded in 2007, Zenvo Automotive remains Denmark’s sole automotive manufacturer. On this week’s Mobility Moments, Troels Vollertsen, founder of Zenvo Automotive, discusses the brand’s upcoming plans for a hybrid hypercar, the TSR-S, and the recent upgrade to the company’s factory in his home town of Præstø.
Describe Zenvo’s new hypercar.
The TSR-S is our latest vehicle and has considerable engineering and technology advancements to make it not only a pioneering hypercar but also one of the first to feature the Centripetal wing.
It’s as close to a race-car without being homologated and compared to the TS1, it has evolved and has fully optimised aero and weight for track purposes as well as being a pleasure to drive on the road and use day to day. Not to mention the carbon fibre wheels, which have been made completely in-house by Zenvo.
Our team does all of the R&D on carbon structures to create our optional carbon fibre wheels in a number of finishes.
What’s it like to drive?
Really the experience is defined by tactility, power and engagement. I’ve never set out to build a car that’s just crazy fast with no feeling, it has to be fun to drive. I also think there is a place for a car that gives you the tingles, that you can use all the time.”
By nature of it being twin supercharged and over 1000bhp there is a lot of go, but it’s a linear delivery and not berserk. Our in-house dog box gives a super-fast and direct gearchange it has a lot of character, a gunshot-like action at high speed but still nice and easy when you change modes.
I miss the old feeling of analogue supercars, with actual buttons not touch screens and an interior focused around the driver. So in all Zenvo cars we use aluminium switchgear made in-house, and there’s nothing superfluous. We focus on experience, quality and individuality.
Describe the upgrade to the factory and the key benefits?
During Covid-19 we had a number of staff out of the office and we [the management] thought it would be the perfect time to upgrade our substantial factory in Præstø, Denmark. Zenvo has always done a lot in-house from stand-alone ECU departments to its carbon fibre and advanced materials sector, as well as engine and gearbox capabilities, so we wanted to enhance and extend that capability and internal infrastructure.”
We’ve upgraded with the production line for the future and current series of vehicles in mind, especially with our hybrid powertrain development.
We now have a new, revised bespoke dyno room and our carbon composite division, engine and gearbox subdivision, ECU and wiring department and more have benefited from considerable upgrades. And we now have a new joint interior and paint facility to finish off the run of improvements. I’m also especially proud of our workbenches, which are made out of lovely warm woods and carbon fibre.
What is the production process for developing a Zenvo hypercar?
Each Zenvo is made entirely by hand. We have limited production to five cars per year, which ensures we have enough time to work with each client on their bespoke build and specification. For example, we wait until the end to finish the bottom of the door panels as you can tailor those in carbon fibre weave e.g. putting ‘Zenvo’ on the bottom, which is still a bespoke offering to our brand.”
In terms of the entire process, it’s created in-house including the development, homologation, testing and production build. We take a long time in R&D as well as ensuring all of our cars are compliant for multiple different territories.”
We are constantly developing at Zenvo, none more so than the engine and emission standards. We’re keeping an eye on the technology advances and regulations as well as innovating our own to ensure we’re constantly within regulations but also maximising power and bhp.”
How are you embracing hybrid-powertrain technology?
We are working on a new series of cars which will be hybrid. We have already got a hybrid gearbox, which we have publicised to a few outlets, and will be in production from next year.
It’s a change and adaptation from our seven-speed unit to create a hybrid eight-speed gearbox. It’s really clever – we’ve integrated a hybrid electric motor to ensure that gears are more accurate and faster but also recover energy at the same time. We also use that motor as a starter motor as well as using it to blip the throttle on downshifts faster than the engine could on its own.
The hybrid motor will work as reverse gear as well, which frees up space in the gearbox for an extra forward gear, thus taking us to an eight-speed.
Will Zenvo ever develop a fully-electric hypercar?
With hybrid technologies enhancing the way we drive, I think for now let’s just leave it that we will use petrol and electricity together, but not pure EV (electric vehicle). That’s not in our DNA as a hypercar manufacturer.
What will urban mobility look like by 2030?
For us, in 2030, our core focus is to stay true to our DNA as a hypercar brand. We will focus on cutting-edge technologies, lightweighting, creating bespoke, limited edition hypercars that have a Danish feel as well as being leaders in craftsmanship and quality.
In terms of the wider picture, I’ve seen the automotive industry change a lot as a whole, some for good and some that has needed more work. In 2030 if I can avoid driving in traffic jams [being in an autonomous car] but then spend time in a Zenvo on the weekend on local tracks and roads, then I’d be happy. I think it’s all about balance but also having time for your passion.