Oullim Networks concluded a contract with Solomon Islands Resources Limited to sell SPIRRA and SPIRRA S in China. Oullim Networks will start to deliver 50 cars from 2010, and they will deliver 100 cars in 2011 and 150 in 2012.
Archive for December, 2009
“MORE fun than a Porsche.” Even a few years ago, a statement like that from a South Korean car maker was more likely to invoke derision than curiosity. But the advent this month of a twin-turbo version of Oullim Motors’ Spirra V6 gives its claim some validity, and entree to the rarefied world of the supercar.
There’s no strict definition of a supercar, but common characteristics are a top speed well above 300kmh, a turbocharged mid-engine layout, carbon-fibre body, seating for two (occasionally plus two), head-turning looks and a price set high enough to induce heart palpitations among all but the stupendously well-heeled.
The latest Spirra passes all tests except price. While it could never be called cheap and cheerful, its starting point of about $US100,000 ($108,000) for the base model is way below normal supercar territory.
In recent years, the traditional supercar names – Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Mercedes, McLaren and Jaguar – have been joined by a whole host of exotic and expensive newcomers: Sweden’s Koenigsegg, Germany’s Gumpert, the fiercesome Bugatti Veyron from France (though Volkswagen has owned Bugatti since 1998), Italy’s Pagani Zonda and American muscle in the shape of the Saleen S7 and the world’s fastest production car, the SSC Ultimate Aero.
Japan’s Nissan GT-R, which can outrun just about anything on a twisty circuit like the Nurburgring, is considered too slow in a straight line to qualify, but Toyota’s 325 km/h Lexus LFA, shown at the Tokyo Motor Show last month, will join the supercar ranks when it makes its sales debut in early 2011.
South Korea’s auto industry, now the fifth largest in the world, has come a long way since the 1.2-litre Hyundai Pony made its debut in 1975. By the mid-1980s, Korea was starting to make a name for itself as an exporter of cheap, reliable, glamour-free cars. The two decades from 1990 saw a frenetic capacity buildup, sparking fierce domestic competition and the inevitable consolidation and casualties, with Kia taken into the Hyundai fold and Daewoo and Samsung falling under the control of GM and Renault respectively. SsangYong Motors, once owned by Daewoo, is now majority owned by Chinese maker SAIC and Hyundai has become to the Korean industry what Toyota is to Japan: the benchmark performer and innovator.
For example, Hyundai’s Genesis V8 sedan, which sees its competitors as the Mercedes E-class and BMW 5-series, was voted North America’s 2009 car of the year in January. In 2011, Hyundai is due to release its Equus limousine to tackle BMW’s 7-series and the S-class Mercedes.
Oullim Motors sources Hyundai components, including the V6 engine, for its Spirra sports car, though essentially the design is the work of a former SsangYong Motors designer, Kim Han-chul.
Kim left SsangYong in 1994 to set up his own auto design and development company, Proto Motors. By the early 2000s, he and his wife, Choi Jisun -a researcher at Hyundai Motor – were ready to realise their concept of a high performance mid-engine sports car. The concept car PS-II was shown at the 2002 Seoul Motor Show and the full Spirra car appeared at motor shows in Beijing (2004) and Seoul (2005). But by the time the Spirra was ready for production in 2006, the money had run out and the project went into abeyance.
In July 2006, up-and-coming information technology tycoon and auto enthusiast Park Dong-hyuk set up Oullim Motors, and in June 2007 took over Proto Motors to revive the Spirra project. The first cars were produced in 2008 (with a showing at the Beijing Motor Show in April 2008), and in July this year the Spirra gained Whole Vehicle Type Approval (WVTA) which gives it access to the European market.
A company spokesman told The Australian this week that Spirra aims to deliver 300 cars worldwide in 2010, and will also resume a three-year contract to deliver 145 vehicles to a Dutch distributor. In addition, the spokesman said the company recently concluded a contract to supply 100 vehicles to a distributor in Malaysia by 2014.
The emergence of the Spirra poses a question for the automotive world: if South Korea is able to produce a supercar, can China and India be far behind? As 2010 approaches, it seems a whole lot more likely that the Chinese and Indian concept cars seen at motor shows in Beijing, Shanghai and New Delhi may one day hit the road.
China is the world’s largest car maker, on track to turn out more than 9.5 million cars, according to the latest data from PricewaterhouseCoopers’ automotive research unit. That puts it well ahead of Japan (8.16 million), the US (5.53 million), Germany (4.73 million) and South Korea (3.20 million). India ranks only 11th this year with 2.28 million, but by 2012 is expected to take fifth spot from Korea with 3.55 million. China will be even further ahead with an estimated 12.85 million vehicles.
China’s potential supercars include the Tong Jian S11, a hybrid shown at Shanghai in 2009 that may reach production in 2010-11; and two concept cars shown at the 2008 Beijing auto show: the Beijing 700R and the Geely GT Tiger. Geely so far is best known as a maker of small sedans that are based on Japanese cars such as the Daihatsu Charade.
In India, acclaimed designer Dilip Chhabria has created several supercar prototypes under the names DC Go, Gaia and Infidel, using a Noble GT chassis.
Written by Geoff Hiscock from The Australia ( http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/executive-lifestyle/korean-supercar-on-the-way/story-e6frg9zx-1225803199125)